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Irvine Unified School District: Meet the Candidates – Agran’s Hostile Takeover vs. the School Board’s Picks

Posted by Brenda McCune on October 29, 2012

Everything in Irvine seems to be about slates of candidates battling for control of the City. The Democrats’ slate consists of Councilman Larry Agran for Mayor with Beth Krom and PK Wong for Council. The Republicans’ slate consists of Councilman Steven Choi for Mayor with Christina Shea and Lynn Schott for Council. Agran’s slate has governed Irvine for years, and it seems Agran wishes to gain control of Irvine’s schools.

Agran is attempting to gain control of the Irvine Unified School District Board. Many big-city mayors have tried this such as when Richard Riordan and Antonio Villaraigosa each attempted to gain control of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board. But the one major difference is these mayors have only attempted to gain control of failing school districts. Irvine Unified schools are some of the best in the country. It makes no sense for a councilman to try to gain control of a successful school district.

Regardless of whether you support or oppose Agran’s governance of the City of Irvine, it doesn’t make any sense to try to give him control of the Irvine Unified School District, which by all accounts is running quite well under the current school board. After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

There’s two major slates of three candidates each, plus three more minor candidates. One slate is part of Agran’s hostile takeover while the other slate is the one backed by all five IUSD school board members and seeks to continue doing what Irvine schools have done for years.

So here’s a run-down of the IUSD candidates:

Agran’s Hostile Takeover Candidates

  • Omar Ezzeldine – He is Agran’s biggest puppet. Ezzeldine is Agran’s appointee to the City of Irvine Finance Commission, and recently began serving as its Chair – when he’s actually there. The man misses a significant percentage of the Commission’s meetings. He is repeatedly quoted on Agran’s campaign literature. He claims eight years of involvement in the Irvine Public Schools Foundation, yet several active board members had never even met him before the school board race began, and they’ve never seen him at a foundation event. I guess that could be the saving grace for those opposed to Agran’s attempt to seize control of Irvine public schools: Ezzeldine will probably miss half the meetings thereby making it harder to implement the seizure. Interestingly, his children don’t even attend the Irvine public schools, but attend a private school.
  • Carolyn Inmon – She seems to be searching for an office she can win. When she ran for Republican Central Committee in June 2008, she came in ninth. In November 2008, she unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Republican College Board Member Dave Lang.
  • Cyril Yu – He’s a prosecutor with one daughter in an IUSD school, but has only lived in the Irvine School District for 3 years.

School Board’s Irvine Education First Candidates

  • Paul Bokota – Bokota’s qualifications for IUSD are impressive and directly applicable to the Irvine School Board position. He’s a Harvard-educated business attorney who spends countless hours volunteering in IUSD. His Irvine public school service includes: IUSD Finance Committee (for 6 years), IUSD Revenue Enhancement Committee Chairman, PTA President, School Site Council, Irvine Public Schools Foundation Legacy Partner, three-school PTA Member, and Harvard Alumni Admissions Interviewer for Irvine high school students.
  • Lauren Brooks – Brooks is similarly committed. She’s been an international business executive and a teacher in Hong Kong. An Irvine resident for over a quarter of a century, she’s was named IUSD’s Volunteer of the Year and awarded the California PTA’s Golden Oak Award, the PTA’s Highest Honor. She’s served on School Site Council, Irvine Unified PTA Council Executive Board for a decade, PTA President at two schools, PTA Parliamentarian, PTA Legislative Action Chair, PTA Grad Night Chair, Irvine Public Schools Foundation Executive Board Member, Irvine Public Schools Foundation Community Relation Co- Chair, Irvine Public Schools Foundation Legacy Partner, IUSD Accreditation Committee, IUSD Principal Selection Committee, IUSD Curriculum/Homework Committee, IUSD Health & Wellness Committee, and Irvine Children’s Fund Board. On top of that, she’s gone to Sacramento for the last decade as an IUSD volunteer advocate, and she co-founded and co-led the IUSD PTA’s annual high school student advocacy trip to Sacramento.
  • Michael Parham – An Ivy League-educated business executive, former PTA President, and the only incumbent running, Parham is currently the President of the Irvine Unified School District Board and has served two terms on the School Board. Considering how happy Irvine voters are about their schools, surely Parham comes in first. Parham serves as the IUSD Board Representative to the Emergency Response committee, the City/District Liaison Committee, and the California Association of Suburban School Districts.

Minor Candidates

  • Michelle Ollada Alipio – A school nurse, she’s seemed very nervous and ill-prepared at candidate forums. She was the only candidate to seek the OC GOP endorsement. Several OC GOP Central Committee Members admitted that they only voted to support her out of deep respect for her sister, Yvette. They indicated they weren’t particularly impressed by Michelle and wish it had been Yvette running instead.
  • Bob Vu – His ballot designation is Educator/Scientist/Entrepreneuer. He’s clearly a brilliant man, but he doesn’t seem to have any IUSD experience. In most districts and cities, it would be no big deal if he had no district experience, but in IUSD, voters love the status quo and want people with direct district experience.
  • Margaret Brown – Um, yikes:

Brown’s exit marks the second time in three years she has left a school district while helping to process a large bond-funded construction schedule. In 2010, she resigned from a similar position at the San Ramon Valley Unified School District amid complaints of sexual harassment lodged by four male colleagues.

Brown received a $200,000 payout from the Northern California school district when she left after five years on the job, according to a lawsuit filed by one of the plaintiffs in July 2010.

http://articles.glendalenewspress.com/2012-01-24/news/tn-gnp-0125-lead-planner-out-at-gusd_1_bond-funds-citizens-bond-oversight-committee-margaret-brown

Here’s a relatively dry story: http://www.sanramonexpress.com/news/show_story.php?id=2296

This story, wow, don’t read this one near your children: http://sanramon.patch.com/articles/alleged-rogue-randy-employee-prompts-sex-harassment-lawsuit-against-school-district

One complainant could be a frivolous lawsuit by one disgruntled employee. Four complainants is a lot.

So that’s the choice IUSD voters face: Agran’s Hostile Takeover vs. the School Board’s picks, plus a trio of minor candidates.

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