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Orange Unified parents file lawsuits against district over abrupt firing of superintendent

Parents of Orange Unified School District students have filed two lawsuits this month alleging that the abrupt firing of Superintendent Gunn Marie Hansen and Assistant Superintendent Cathleen Corella earlier this year violated the Brown Act — California’s public meetings law — according to Voice of OC.

The lawsuits challenge the legality of a Jan.5 meeting called for by the district’s newly elected conservative majority on the school board. Parents and staff of the district were still on holiday when the meeting occurred, and the four-member majority voted to fire Hansen and Corella with replacements already lined up despite no prior public discussion.

Later that month, the board’s temporary replacement for Hansen abruptly resigned after public outcry over Hansen’s firing.

In January, EdSource filed a public records request for all communications between members of the school board about Hansen’s possible dismissal. A Jan. 4 email that the district released — the only document provided to EdSource — showed that board President Rick Ledesma and two other members laid out the strategy for voting without debate at the closed-door meeting the following day, at which Hansen would be fired and her replacement would be hired.

Madison Miner, the fourth member to vote for Hansen’s dismissal, denied prior knowledge of the meeting, and Ledesma has stated that the meeting complied with the Ralph M. Brown Act. The litigation should reveal whether Miner or another board member communicated about the meeting before it was held. Under the Brown Act, a majority of an elected board may not discuss with one another anything on the agenda, including how members are going to vote.