Letters to the Editor:

Serious issue faces OC Board of Education, with serious implications for NMUSD

The Orange County Board of Education (OCBE) has a very serious decision to make on March 6th that will impact an entire district of over 22,000 students. Charter schools can add important choices for parents seeking a high quality, unique education for their children, but only high-quality charters should be approved by the OCBE.

Recently, an outside organization petitioned the Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD) to be approved as a charter school in our community. The International School for Science and Culture (ISSAC) provided a poorly written petition, presented by an educational leader that did not impress our parents. The NMUSD found significant academic and financial deficiencies and denied the ISSAC petition. ISSAC then appealed that decision to the Orange County Board of Education (OCBE).

The Orange County Department of Education (OCDE) Staff Report of January 31, 2019 to the OCBE indicates serious deficits in the petition to establish the ISSAC Charter School in the NMUSD. Those deficits include: An incomplete schedule that does not include all required courses; a schedule and course of study that puts into doubt their students’ ability to demonstrate proficiency in math and science; no assurance of English language instruction for English learners; insufficient funding for special education; enrollment projections and budgets that may not be sufficient...among other glaring deficiencies in the loosely written ISSAC plan, which did not result in significant community support.

The OCBE demonstrated at the February meeting for the ISSAC appeal a pre-determined philosophy to support charter schools, regardless of quality. During that meeting, public comment was severely limited and community members who asked to speak about ISSAC were denied the opportunity to do so. One has to question their commitment to the Brown Act. 

Voters need to hold our elected leaders responsible for doing the homework required to carefully determine whether a charter school in their districts will meet state and district standards. The OCBE’s reputation is at stake in this decision but more importantly, the future of the students they serve is at stake. We all expect due diligence to be done, the findings of the NMUSD and OCBE expert staff to be respected, and critical decisions to be made on the merit of each individual school and not a predetermined philosophy that is beholden to outsiders and political PACs. Great charters need to be approved and inferior charters need to be denied.

ISSAC is a substandard proposed school with substandard leadership that does not belong in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, or any school district.

Ruth Sanchez Kobayashi

Newport Beach

Poorly conceived charter school will only serve to harm our students and community

The Newport-Mesa Unified School District is committed to excellence in our schools. We are clearly cognizant of current California legislation that supports the establishment of charter schools. As a Board, we are aligned in our commitment that all schools in our district must be outstanding schools. We are open to the idea of adding a charter school in our district, but only an excellent charter.

Charter schools work best when they serve a need that is not being met in a school district or where local schools are failing. This is not the case in Newport-Mesa. Even in areas with high concentrations of English language learners, our schools have targeted programs in place to meet the needs of these students; and we are experiencing gains in academic achievement.

In September 2018, The International School for Science and Culture (ISAAC) petitioned to be an approved charter in our district. This charter did not come from within the Newport-Mesa community, but instead was initiated by an outside group. This outside group had already presented the same charter (with a different name) that had been denied three times in another district.

In October, a public hearing was held in our board room which demonstrated virtually no local interest in or support for ISAAC. After much evaluation and review, our Board determined that this charter is not consistent with sound educational practices, based on factual findings. Among others, these findings include that the charter makes faulty assumptions, presents an unsound educational program for pupils to be enrolled, is highly unlikely to successfully implement the program set forth, and presents unrealistic and unsustainable budgetary projections.    

In December, ISAAC appealed the NMUSD denial to the Orange County Board of Education (OCBE). On February 13, 2019, the OCBE agreed to an extension for ISAAC to address the county’s perceived weaknesses, which are numerous. 

Unfortunately, it became clear to those of us in attendance at this meeting that the Orange County Board is unwilling to look closely at the quality of ISAAC. Two of the board members present at the February meeting wanted to approve the charter that day as presented, even with the flaws pointed out by their own county staff. These pro-charter board members are openly vocal about approving any charter school that comes their way. One of the most unfortunate situations of the day was that the OCBE was unwilling to allow comments from any Newport-Mesa concerned citizens; something we feel is a clear violation of the Brown Act. 

Approval of an unsuccessful charter will put our district and our students at risk, as well as our taxpayers who fund our local schools. If this charter is approved on March 6, the OCBE will indemnify the County so as not to be financially liable. It is NMUSD that will be left to foot the bill. We should all be alarmed at this academically and financially flawed charter being approved. A failed charter would most likely put future charter applications at risk. The Orange County Board of Education should be encouraged to make the right decision for our community, and not be driven by politically and ideologically motivated reasons.   

We are elected guardians of taxpayer dollars and take that responsibility seriously. We hope the OCBE will take its responsibility seriously when they make a decision impacting our local community and our local taxpayer dollars. 

NMUSD Board of Trustees

Ashley Anderson

Michele Barto

Dana Black

Martha Fluor

Charlene Metoyer

Vicki Snell

Karen Yelsey

Hutchins Consort to present annual special event

The Hutchins Consort is the only professional ensemble in the world performing on the acoustically matched octet of violins designed and crafted by the late Dr. Carleen Hutchins. The Consort performs a regular concert season in San Diego and Orange Counties, as well as touring extensively from the Eastern Seaboard to the Pacific Northwest, in Italy, Mexico and Ireland. These funds are being raised to expand our multi-generational educational outreach collaborations with schools, libraries and children’s museums. Our new collaborations include a July residency at the Rufus Porter Museum in Maine and programs with “Classics for Kids” in San Diego.

The Hutchins Consort will present our annual special event, “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” on Sunday, April 28 at Sherman Library and Gardens in Corona del Mar. Upon arrival, guests will be welcomed with a champagne reception and silent auction, followed by a concert of “favorite floral music”. The program will be eclectic – from Leo Delibes’ “Flower Duet” to possibly Louis Armstrong’s “Honeysuckle Rose” or Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Flowers that Bloom in the Spring.” Our guests will then enjoy a gourmet dinner catered by renowned Pascal’s.

Tickets can be purchased through Ms. Sharon McNalley by phone at 949.675.3656 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dr. And Mrs. Robert Egan 

Co-Sponsors and Board Members