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Searching for a Site for a New Orange County Jail

September 25, 1988

It is with extreme concern and dismay that I express my disappointment in the recent decision of the Orange County Board of Supervisors to disapprove the purchase of the Kennedy school site for the Santa Ana Unified School District. In making that decision, the supervisors have made young, innocent, low-income minority children the victims of an ugly, political battle.

The Santa Ana district has received approval from the state for the construction of a new elementary school at the location being disputed. Do you know how difficult it is to obtain state approval for building projects? The state is in an "over-award" status wherein more projects get approved than there is funding available. Funding is thus awarded on a first-come basis: the sooner you have the acquired property, the sooner the dollars will flow for construction--providing funds are still available.

Campuses in Santa Ana are desperately overcrowded. We have grown at the rate of about 1,000 students per year for 10 years--and we're still growing. We desperately need to open a school on that site.

It is indeed a shame that the persons most affected by the supervisors' decision are the very people who are excluded from the political process either due to their lack of political savvy and clout or due to their limited English capabilities. I realize that the parents of the children most affected are not ones who are necessarily eligible to vote. But is this a reason not to pay attention to their concerns?

I urge the supervisors to reconsider their decision and to save all of us a lot of grief, anger and taxpayer funds by alleviating the necessity of litigation.

The property in question is too small for a jail. It is located in a residential neighborhood. And we have already received approval for the school building project. The supervisorial decision has placed the Santa Ana district and, most importantly, the children of the Minnie Street neighborhood in a real bind. Please understand that my concern is based solely on the need to provide access to an equal educational opportunity to poor, minority children.

AUDREY YAMAGATA-NOJI

Member, Board of Education

Santa Ana Unified School District

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