Interim superintendent of Orange Unified quits after a month in the post

Orange Unified

Edward Velasquez

The interim superintendent of the Orange Unified School District has resigned after just a month on the job.

In a message posted on the district’s website  Edward Velasquez wrote, “It is with sadness that I announce that my last day as Interim Superintendent will be Thursday, February 16.” He did not give a reason for the sudden resignation.

A district spokesperson, Hana Brake, told the Orange County Register that Velasquez  “feels like the focus has been taken off of where it should be — the students.”

Velasquez had been expected to stay in the post for two months or longer. He was hired following the sudden firing last month of Superintendent Gunn Marie Hansen at a school board meeting called on 24-hours-notice while Hansen was out of the country. Another administrator, also not at the meeting, was placed on administrative leave. The vote was taken in a closed session.

Angry parents dubbed the meeting “the Thursday night massacre.”

Board President Rick Ledesma offered no reason for the firing, as parents complained that a new, conservative majority on the board intended to turn the district to the right.

EdSource is pursuing board members’ emails and other communications from the district about Hansen’s firing. But the district has not responded to a Public Records Act Request sent to it by EdSource Editor at Large John Fensterwald on January 13.

In an email to district leaders sent Wednesday, EdSource’s lawyer, Duffy Carolan, wrote the district was in “complete failure” of the act’s requirements and demanded a response. “We insist that the Board comply with the law and immediately provide EdSource with a determination on the request and a timetable for the production of responsive records.”

Almost immediately into his tenure Velasquez encountered controversy over an online library app that some parents complained allowed younger students to access books meant for older students. Some parents and board members also challenged the appropriateness of other books available through the app.

But Velasquez defended virtual libraries, calling them “critical resources for our students,” according to the Register.

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