At a special Friday night meeting that lasted nearly four hours, the Westminster School District Board of Trustees took two major actions: setting a date for the reopening of in-person instruction and declining to ask the Orange County District Attorney to investigate allegations against Board President Frances Nguyen.
The board voted 4-1 (with Jamison Power dissenting) to start to send students back into the classrooms as of Monday, Oct. 19 in a hybrid model. Parents will also be able to choose “distance learning” instead. Back-to-school operations will take place not all at once, but by groups or grade levels.
After a lengthy presentation, WSD Cynthia Paik stated the district administration’s recommendation to begin Oct. 12. However, Power suggested that the district was under “artificial pressure” to act, and that – because of the many concerns raised by parents and teachers in the lengthy public comments –“There needs to be more time.”
His suggestion to table the matter until the meeting of Oct. 8 failed for the lack of a second, and the board went ahead with the decision to re-open Oct. 19.
A proposal to send a letter to the OCDA’s office formally requesting that agency to look into claims that the board president may have violated the law or vacated her seat failed on a 2-2 vote, with Khanh Nguyen and Frances Nguyen voting no.
Critics of Frances Nguyen – currently representing Area 1 – allege she violated residency requirements necessary to serve on the board by moving to a location just outside the WSD limits when she filed nomination papers to run for an Area 4 seat.
An attorney retained by the district recommended that WSD allow the district attorney to investigate the issue. An internal inquiry would be “futile,” he said because she stated she would not agree to be interviewed.
The controversy over her status comes a month after Xavier Nguyen resigned his post as trustee for Area 2 after being charged with perjury and filing fraudulent nominations papers in 2018. Applications are being sought from the public for a provisional replacement to serve as trustee through 2022.