In 2006, Trustee Karen Yelsey told the  Daily Pilot that the limit for any trustee serving on the N-MUSD board should be 12 years. Yelsey also told the Pilot that rubber stamping staff recommendations was an issue.

Since then, Yelsey has drunk more than her share of district Kool-Aid. One year ago, during the height of the term limit debate, and probably realizing that she goofed in 2006, Yelsey flip-flopped and said 16 years is a good length. And as for the rubber stamping, well, nothing has changed.

But, Yelsey has filed the paperwork to run again, just as I told you months ago that she would.

There are a few important criteria for the taxpayers in Yelsey’s area. The first is stewardship: Has the candidate proven to taxpayers that he or she is fiscally responsible? The answer for Yelsey is no, she has not proven this. Yelsey has voted repeatedly to authorize record legal fees to ward off lawsuits, records requested through CPRAs, and failed to stop costly blunders such as the “Estancia Three”: Poles, Pool, and Stink.

Worse, Yelsey has supported undeserved raises and bonuses to the superintendent, who has been at the top of a heap of unprecedented blunders since he has had the job.

And so much more…

The next is accountability: Has the candidate taken responsibility for mistakes? Has the candidate demanded accountability from district staff for their mistakes?

Once again, the answer is “no.” Some people believe that saying “I’m sorry” or “It’s my fault” is a sign of weakness. But multiple reputable studies have shown the opposite: Strong people take ownership, weak people make excuses, point fingers, or say nothing.

Yelsey has yet to take ownership for her part in any of the incredibly long string of blunders, mismanagements, and fiscal mistakes that have plagued the district for years.

Last but certainly not least is academic performance. There are four N-MUSD schools in Yelsey’s area. Following each of the schools is the percentage of students who did NOT meet the state standards for English and math in 2017:

Andersen Elementary                                  E: 17 M: 15
Harbor View Elementary                            E:17  M: 23
Lincoln Elementary                                      E:25  M:30
Newport Coast Elementary                         E:20  M: 23

That part of the district is probably looking at these scores and thinking what I am thinking: Not good enough.

I’m also thinking, “What happened? How did these scores sink so badly? 30 percent of the kids at Lincoln FAILED to mee the math standard??? How did that happen?”

Ask Karen Yelsey what happened. And if she gives you any response other than, “I am sorry and I am going to work harder to improve these scores and demand more accountability from the highly-paid district staff,” she does not deserve your vote.

One of the reasons for the relatively poor math results is Yelsey’s failure to stop the progress of Swun Math before it spiraled down, out of control, and was recently replaced. Swun Math was replaced only after a cacophony of parent and teacher complaints, led by Newport Beach parent Erica Roberts, became too loud and too numerous to ignore.

During the math debate, Yelsey said, “Maybe the community should have been involved a little earlier.”

Then there is foot-dragging on school safety and, oh, so much more. The list of district waste and mistakes includes during the Yelsey Years includes but is not limited to:

  • Grade hacking scandal
  • Prom draft
  • Swun Math
  • Area lawsuit
  • Boss/Huntington lawsuit
  • Rats on campuses
  • Estancia pool
  • Estancia poles
  • Estancia stink
  • Caldecott termination
  • Skyrocketing legal fees
  • Tainted musical instruments
  • Campus safety delays
  • CdM sports complex delays
  • Poor Smarter Balanced scores
  • Mariners Gold Ribbon application scandal

It is Yelsey’s right to run. But is it right for her to run? I don’t believe so. I believe that she has served long enough and that it is time for someone else to try to do better.

And just so you know that it’s no longer just Steve Smith – the “lone wolf” that Vicki Snell labeled me back in 2014 – here is a list of local resources where you can find more details on what is wrong with the N-MUSD:

Newport-Mesa Community for Students – Facebook:

Newport-Mesa Community for Students – Website:

John Caldecott:

Costa Mesa Brief:

Steve Smith