There are two vacancies on the Orange Unified School District Board of Education stemming from the successful recall of Trustees Rick Ledesma and Madison Miner on March 5 in a recall campaign spearheaded by teachers unions and the Democratic Party of Orange County. OUSD includes Anaheim Hills.

Prior to the recall, the OUSD Board was controlled by a four member majority that was politically conservative and charter school-friendly and opposed by three union-friendly trustees: Kris Erickson, Ana Page and Andrea Yamasaki.

Now, Erickson, Page and Yamasaki are in the driver’s seat.

Tonight, the remaining five trustees will take up the question of how to fill those vacancies.

The OC Registrar of Voters certified the recall election results on March 22, starting the 60-day clock for dealing with the vacancies in Trustee Areas 4 and 7. The OUSD Board has until May 21 to either to either appoint provisional trustees to those seats or leave them vacant until the November 5 general election. Either way, state law requires holding special elections for Trustee Area 4 and 7, consolidated with the general election.

According to state law, leaving the seats vacant would not impair the Board ability to function and govern.

The political question before the Board – or really, the controlling pro-union majority – is whether to leave those seats vacant or fill them with political allies who can run as incumbents in the November special elections.

The teachers unions and the Democratic Party made the recall of Ledesma and Miner a top priority and worked hard for their ouster.

In Zoom calls in January 2023 – as the recall campaign was getting underway – Orange Unified Educators Association leaders said recalling Miner and Ledesma was a top priority in order to cripple the Board’s conservative majority – whom they viewed as “enemies” – and prevent it’s pro-charter school approach from “spreading” to other school districts.

On a Zoom call in early 2023 – in which OUSD Trustee Kris Erickson participated – Roger Urroz, the full-time executive director of the OUEA, said the CTA leadership “very worried” that the new conservative majority on the OUSD Board would succeed and endanger union-dominance of other districts.

“I’ve already been in touch with the higher up at CTA, I’ve been in constant contact with my Region 4 manager,” Urroz. “They are very concerned. They’re seeing it as Orange is the ‘pilot’ if you will. If they can succeed here in Orange, then they know they can go to other districts and do the same thing. So CTA is very concerned, very worried.”

In a January 2023 Zoom call Orange Unified Educators Association President Greg Goodlander said he was “collaborating with my union counterparts in other unions” and had already spoken to 700 union leaders at the [California Teachers Association] State Council and generated contributions for the recall.

Goodlander had also set meetings with teacher union activists from other districts, such as the Capistrano Unified and Brea-Olinda Unified school districts to recruit union members from those districts to help with the recall qualification campaign.

“My message is ‘don’t think this is Orange and I don’t need to worry about it, because if we fail in this, it will empower our enemies – to spread, basically,” said Goodlander.

Given those concerns from the OUEA and state teacher union leadership, and their close relationship with the new Board majority, it would b surprising if Erickson, Page and Yamasaki chose not to press their advantage by appointing two more political allies to the Board.