Letters to the Editor Dec. 13

Caring spirit of Ojai
A couple of days before Thanksgiving, I stopped off at Vons to get a few items for our dinner. The store was unusually crowded with shoppers and overflowing shopping carts. When I finished shopping, the front of the store was jammed up with customers, carts and long lines. There was no room for an orderly line, so we all verbally agreed to who would be behind whom in the jumbled traffic jam of bodies and carts.
The lady next to me was cheerfully talking to a young boy sitting in his cart on top of his food about his favorite sport, soccer. A man to my right was telling anyone who would listen that his wife had just been in a traffic accident and was not hurt. While I waited, I felt a glow of friendship, kindness, and acceptance from those around me. I was thinking how nice it was to be in Ojai.
When my turn came to check out, the checker was cheerfully working at hyper speed. She was taking pride in her efficiency and prompt service. Each customer thanked her and mentioned her speedy work. I again thought how lucky I was to be in Ojai.
When I got home and unloaded my groceries, I began to develop a slow panic as I noticed my purse was not in the car! After a thorough search, I confirmed it was missing and ran into the house to call Vons and the Police Department. My husband calmly said, “I’ll go down to Vons and find it.” While the missing purse did not contain much cash, it did have credit cards, driver’s license and other important documents. I was miserable thinking of all the time, stress and work that laid ahead of me, but my husband reminded me that we lived in Ojai and it would probably still be in the cart where I left it.
A short while later the phone rang and I skeptically picked it up, wondering what the message would be. We live in Ojai! My purse was turned in to Vons’ lost and found and the contents were totally intact!
We are indeed blessed to live in a town full of kind, honest, neighbors who look out for each other because we care.


OUSD Board needs to act
Ojai Unified School District Board President Thayne Whipple is under federal indictment by the U.S. Department of Justice. He is charged with various financial crimes related to political donations supporting Trump and is specifically charged with obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI. I believe having a public official in Ojai under such a federal indictment is unprecedented. I am making a public call for Mr. Whipple to resign from his position immediately, and am seeking answers as to why the OUSD Board has refused to ask for his resignation.
I have spoken to numerous parents who have been forced to take their children out of OUSD for various reason under his administration. If you have been silenced by OUSD, now is the time to come forward.
The Board refuses to act — the same Board, led by Whipple, that has guided OUSD to the very bottom of California school rankings. Two of our schools, in a district of seven core schools, are among the lowest-performing in the state — the entire state of California. We have had numerous incidents of serious bullying, social media posts from student teams with the worst racial offenses. We have had 8-year-old girls told they should die, for being other than white on our elementary campus. We have had students forming human swastikas at Matilija Junior High School. During the events around this incident, the Board failed even to follow state laws related to victim rights.
Ojai deserves better than a Board that thinks this status quo is acceptable. — and that a federally indicted board president should be allowed to stay. Mr. Whipple, step down immediately for the good of the community.


Community has serious concerns
When the school board closed Summit Elementary School, the Upper Ojai Neighborhood Council members voted unanimously that they wanted to have a traditional public school on the Summit School campus. An Ojai Unified School District 7-11 Committee recommendation was to have a public charter school on the campus that has served the community for 107 years.
There are several issues that must be addressed by the board regarding the future of Summit School before the vote. Among them are:
1. The school district — without any public meeting — appears to have a plan to partially privatize Summit School by placing OUSD independent study students on the campus in partnership with a private vendor.
2. The school district administration appears to have disregarded the school board’s vote to surplus Summit School and its vote to submit a waiver to the California Department of Education. Instead, it appears the administration is attempting to manufacture a use by the school district that keeps out public uses, without regard to transparent procedures.
3. The school district is attempting to have a concentration of, and isolate, nonvaccinated students in Upper Ojai, by not requiring OUSD independent study students to be vaccinated. This is in addition to the enrollees at the vendor who are not currently required to be vaccinated.
4. The school district did not avail itself of the opportunity to seek answers from the Summit Charter School Board regarding its questions concerning Proposition 39 prior to involving the law firm of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo. This has convoluted the process, and not in favor of students, and especially those parents who signed the intent-to-enroll forms on behalf of their children.
5. OUSD has continued support for a use of Summit School that has perpetuated an eyesore for the community — a fire hazard and a hazard to children on the property. Since the school was closed, the outside area has received minimal upkeep. On the north side of the school, there are dead branches and wood stacked against the building. An inspection by the Ventura County Fire Department would be able to verify this situation.
6. The presentation at the Nov. 5 public hearing, given by the Ventura County Office of Education employee, was biased in that she spent a significant amount of time describing what the law will be in July. That did not pertain to the Summit Charter School petition and promoted confusion by some attendees. It appeared to create a distorted outlook by educators involved in this presentation.
These are all serious concerns that must be responded to prior to the board’s vote on the petition.

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