Capo Unified Board of Trustees Goes ‘Round The Bend

If you have ever wondered if an elected body could collectively lose its mind, the Capistrano Unified School District Board of Trustees has answered that question in the affirmative.

Last week, CUSD trustees voted 6-1 (Trustee Jim Reardon being the lone dissenter) to place an $889 million local school bond on the November ballot (with interest and fees, the real cost to taxpayers would be $1.8 billion). Let’s leave the insanity of that vote for another editorial.

At the same meeting, the same Board of Trustees also voted (with Reardon again the lone dissenter) to sue the cities of Mission Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita, as well as the respective mayors of those cities – Frank Ury and Tony Beall. The reason?: the city council’s of both cities have passed resolutions opposing the planned billion dollar bond.

It’s beyond astonishing that a group of duly-elected officials — led by Trustee John Alpay — would marshal public resources to launch such a direct assault on free speech. It’s chilling.How could these six trustees have sat on that dais and thought to themselves, “Yes, this is a good idea. Using litigation to silence opposing opinions is a legitimate use of our power and resources.” Before pressing the “aye” button to vote for this attack on the 1st Amendment, did none of them pause to reflect on whether this was a wise or just action?

It’s behavior one would expect from politically correct campus speech police, not grown-up elected representatives. Perhaps at their next meeting, the CUSD Six can declare the entire district a “safe space” within no micro-aggressions against the billion dollar bond are permitted? Or someone can remind them that government exists to secure our natural rights such as freedom of speech, not suppress them.

The CUSD Six justify their actions by claiming it is a misuse of public funds for Mission Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita to adopt a policy position on a school bond. This is ridiculous. City councils – and school boards, for that matter — adopt policy positions on legislation, initiatives and issues all the time. The CUSD Board of Trustees wants to extract $1.8 billion from the pockets of Mission Viejo and RSM taxpayers to fund a vague school facilities bond and they think the real misuse of public funds is those cities’ elected officials saying that’s a bad idea?

Their raising the “misuse of public funds” argument doesn’t pass the smell test of credibility. Does anyone think the CUSD Six would be suing if Frank Ury, Tony Beall and their respective city councils were supporting the Billion Dollar Bond? These trustees are abusing their power to punish a difference of opinion, not improper involvement.

Whenever they believe their interests to be threatened by legislation or ballot initiatives, public school districts are generally egregious in their abuse of public resources for political purposes. The Capistrano Unified School District has been no exception in this regard, and it takes a special degree of gall for the CUSD Six to point an accusing finger at others.

This lawsuit will fail. Trampling the 1st Amendment generally a poor legal strategy. Furthermore, it will backfire politically on the CUSD Six and their misguided Billion Dollar Bond campaign.

The CUSD Six are:

Amy Hanacek – Trustee Area 1

John Alpay – Trustee Area 3

Martha McNicholas – Trustee Area 4

Gary Pritchard – Trustee Area 5

Gila Jones – Trustee Area 6

Lynn Hatton-Hodson – Trustee Area 7

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