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Orange County

Orange Trustees Review Lawsuits

Education: In the first regular session since the recall, school board members discuss pending legal issues.

July 20, 2001|DENNIS McLELLAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The new board of Orange Unified School District began its first regular session Thursday by focusing on some old business.

In a closed session, trustees met with the district's new lawyer, Spencer Covert of Tustin-based Parker & Covert LLP, to evaluate 10 pending lawsuits and other legal matters. The district's high legal fees were an issue in a recall election last month in which three board members were voted out of office.

Thursday's public session began with a series of three-minute statements by residents, many of whom took the podium to congratulate the new trustees and voice a common theme: that the troubled school district is poised to move forward.

A few speakers had negative messages, among them former trustee Linda Davis, who was recalled. She said she has serious concerns about the district's future under its new leadership.

The Orange Unified board, which had had a conservative majority since 1993, became known across the state for its controversial opposition to bilingual education, social services in the schools and a gay-straight student club. Many conservatives in the community supported those positions. But an increasing number of parents grew concerned about the exodus of experienced teachers.

In June, voters in the district recalled Davis and two other conservative board members and replaced them with trustees more sympathetic to the teachers union. Teachers and parents contended that the old board was driving away teachers with its hard-line stances and low salaries.

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