D.A. to Review CUSD Critic's Complaints

Parent Dawn Urbanek raised questions about how Capo Unified handled its budget this year.

The Orange County District’s Attorney’s office is looking into complaints filed by a parent and frequent critic of the Capistrano Unified School District.

Deputy District Attorney Ray Armstrong of the special prosecutions unit confirmed he was investigating the complaints but declined to reveal specifics.

“All I can say is we’re reviewing it,” Armstrong said.

Parent Dawn Urbanek submitted several complaints to the D.A.’s office last month. Among her accusations:

  • Parents were shut out of the collective bargaining process with teachers and other unions as district officials attempted to trim millions from the CUSD budget. Capistrano Unified spokesman Marcus Walton said the district afforded the public many opportunities to address the school board. (See PDF).
  • CUSD started negotiations with unions in January, about three months before it was authorized to do so by the school board. As evidence, Urbanek cited an email from Patricia Koch, the representative assigned by the Orange County Department of Education to oversee CUSD’s precarious finances, which says, “They are starting to negotiate with CUEA next week beginning with a possible early retirement incentive that would be tied to class-size increases.” It was dated Jan. 5.
  • The district illegally supported Prop. 30 instead of remaining neutral. Urbanek filed a similar complaint with the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission, which chose not pursue the matter. When Patch asked CUSD for comment, Walton forwarded remarks from Superintendent Joe Farley. "Districts are entitled to use their resources to educate trustees, employees and the public about the fiscal impact of budget-related initiatives," Farley wrote in an Oct. 4 letter to Urbanek, a copy of which was also sent to the D.A.

It's unclear which of Urbanek's complaints the D.A. is looking into.


fact checker November 16, 2012 at 06:12 PM
The dire conditions did not appear from dust two years ago. And there are plenty of oversights that keep districts from misdeeds. The DA is there to investigate crime. For some reason there are a group of people with tenuous ties to CUSD (many of whom have no children who attend schools there) who feel that the DA will do their bidding. Many things have been investigated at their insistence with the end result of not one finding of criminal activity. In short, Dawn is wasting the time and money of both district and county employees in her campaign to bring down public schools (her words are testament to this goal). What a shame.
shelly November 16, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Dawn, Do you feel you were bullied? And is there apathy from the Las Palmas teachers?
shelly November 16, 2012 at 09:30 PM
I would suggest that people read and check things out for themselves because things that are reported as facts are often dressed up opinions.
Dawn Urbanek November 16, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Fact Checker- I asked the District Attorney to investigate the issue of "Public Disclosure" because - unlike past years- there was no effort made on the part of CUSD to "inform" the public about collective bargaining issues and the budget and more importantly to allow the public to voice its opinion about those issues. Of the 26 meetings listed by the CUSD only 3 were open to the public. At one of those meetings, what was disclosed to the public was not what was actually being negotiated.
shelly November 18, 2012 at 01:03 AM
OC Mom, You state all over the place that choice is good in education but it seems that it is only good if people choose what you choose. Do you not think that many of us are happy with our choices? So if I start criticizing OPA would you not leap to the defense? And your comment, "I don't have a Psych degree, but obviously the teachers are making some parents feel needed when they volunteer and some how that is filling a void in their lives. I just don't understand after volunteering on campus and seeing the apathy of some teachers how other parents don't see it." Really? Is this comment really kind or necessary? Or are you planning to hang up a shingle and give all the parents who do not agree with you therapy? And why exactly is it mandatory for OPA parents to volunteer? I disagreed with Dawn and told her directly how I felt. I did not go around gossipping or "just talking to other moms" and not one bullied Dawn. And if she says this she is being dishonest.


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