The short story on last Tuesday’s school board meeting is that every staff recommendation was rubber stamped 7-0. It’s the type of scenario against which Trustee Karen Yelsey railed during her first campaign nine years ago, but she has since decided to go along with everyone else on everything. She also told us that 12 years is enough time for a Trustee to serve. Just sayin’…

The big news is that the meeting was packed long after the board gave out their first awards of the new year. Those left in attendance wanted to know why the new athletic facility at Costa Mesa High wasn’t getting the same amenities as other schools. Little things like… a locker room.

The board attempted a pre-emptive strike against those in attendance by showing an archived video of a meeting from March, 2014 in which they claim that all of this was settled. The video was their way of showing everyone how public and transparent they conduct their business, but it didn’t work. It was also their way of saying, “Tough luck,” folks.

Instead,  speaker after speaker got up and expressed their dissatisfaction with the facility plans, with no comments or sympathy from the board. Why? Because, as I have written countless times, they don’t care.

BTW, there is no truth to the rumor that the board plans to change their motto to “Let them eat cake.”

What the board failed to state but which was hilariously represented in the video, was that the meeting in March, 2014 was public alright – about three people were in the audience.

And speaking of mottos and related things, is it just me or does that image of beings in the N-MUSD logo look like two visitors from another planet?


A couple of speakers presented their plans to implement Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for some schools, which was met with the usual bobbing heads until Trustee Vicki Snell had the audacity to offer a mild challenge. In a roundabout way, Snell asked about best practices for the program.

A best practices approach to anything uses past experience by others to increase implementation efficiency, reduce cost, reduce duplication of effort, and reduce costs. The three best practices questions are:

  1. What worked?
  2. 2. What didn’t?


3. If you could start over, what would you do differently?

These questions were my mantra during my campaign last year but no one on the board dares challenge any presenter with such common sense. It’s a lot easier to just throw up your hands, declare, “Well, you’re the expert!” and rubber stamp whatever is in front of you.

John Caldecott was there, fresh from his victory at the Appellate Court level, and he hinted that the documents he has been receiving.

Last night, he addressed the board to inform them of “Erroneous district California Public Records Act (CPRA) legal positions decimated by the published decision that will ultimately cost the District $500,000 for no reason.  The legal positions were amateurish and simply designed to delay and frustrate CPRA requestors by tapping public funds to pay attorneys.”

Caldecott also wanted them to know that the documents reveal,  “Reports [that] detail  the Superintendent’s use of his official capacity to retaliate by terminating a Whistleblower for making protected reports of improper gov activities,” and that, “the Superintendent has been reckless with his intentional actions.”


I’m saving the best for last…


According to Caldecott, “A new CPRA response shows that [Deputy Supt. Paul] Reed has received hidden compensation totaling [$339,346.67] above his Board approved annual salary statements over the last [9] years.  The District response acknowledges the Board has never approved the specific amounts awarded each year on a public agenda.  The District has been hiding the compensation from the public eye.”


Reed was not at Tuesday’s meeting.


If you want to see the documents he has already received and watch as they come in, you can visit Caldecott’s website at


So what happens next in this case? I can only guess, of course, but that guess would be that the board is looking for an exit strategy. If Caldecott is even half right about this, the board will have no alternative but to throw one or two – maybe more – people under the bus.


The more I think about it, the more I believe my exit strategy is the way to go. It’s simple, inexpensive, and will put to rest any doubt about whether John Caldecott is telling the truth. It works like this: Caldecott filed a sworn statement accusing Frederick Navarro of a lot of stuff. All Frederick Navarro has to do is sign his own sworn statement declaring that he didn’t do any of what Caldecott claims he did.


I’d buy a ticket to that.


Oh, yeah, in their personal comments section, the trustees wanted you to know that they went to some schools, participated in some stuff, and didn’t do anything to improve academic performance at Costa Mesa’s schools.


Nah, I’m kidding. They did all that other meaningless stuff but they really don’t want you to know that they didn’t do anything to improve academic performance at Costa Mesa’s schools.


Steve Smith