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Trustee Wants Full Audit of Benefits Trust

July 09, 1998|LESLEY WRIGHT

In a move expected to heat up controversy between teachers and the Orange Unified School District board, Trustee Kathy Ward tonight will call for a full audit of the trust that administers health benefits.

Ward, a bank executive who was elected to the board in November, said last month she reviewed financial documents for the trust and found what she called significant problems.

"There are too many questions and not enough facts," she said. "That's why I personally want to see this trust dissolved."

Ward said she also will ask the board to hire legal counsel to look into trust actions.

The Orange Trust, run jointly by the district and the teachers union since it was created in 1985, has been a source of contention for years. Some community members have accused the trust of overcharging the district for benefits covering about 1,800 teachers.

The Orange Unified Education Assn., which represents teachers, said the charges are groundless and accused trustees of trying to destroy the fund so they could have more control of benefits. Trust directors have managed to contain health costs while other districts have seen their bills soar, representatives said.

"The OUEA trust directors welcome a full audit," said union head Suzanne Vaugine, when Ward made her charges.

The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. at district headquarters, 1401 N. Handy St. Information: (714) 997-6221.

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