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Wheels Start Turning At OJUSD Meeting

Monday evening did not prove to be business as usual for the monthly board meeting of the Oakdale Joint Unified School District.

Though beginning promptly at 6:30 p.m. as per usual, it was the Public Comments portion of the meeting which grabbed the board’s attention as members from the OJUSD transportation department shared some concerns.

A fair representation from the department filled the first two rows of the OJUSD Tech Center in support of fellow bus driver Kat Songer, who read a letter to the board. Songer shared concern for the manner in which positions have been filled in the past year, noting a lack of application requirements being met by candidates chosen for both a Trainer as well as a Dispatch position.

Songer alleged while addressing the board that other drivers were passed over with full qualifications in both cases and suggested favoritism as the culprit by the Supervisor of Transportation.

“Is the board aware that these dedicated school bus drivers for the Oakdale Joint Unified School District were lied to multiple times by the district administration, as well as their direct supervisor with regard to the driver trainer position?” Songer asked.

She noted documents supporting what she had brought before the board would be presented to each board member for review.

“We ask the board to please do not ignore this continuous mistreatment of the Oakdale Joint Unified School District employees,” she said. “We’re just asking for your help.”

CSEA Labor Relations Representative Carl Walter also addressed the board, reiterating much of the same outlined by Songer. Walter noted a sense of encouragement as well as hope that the injustice would be rectified by the board upon review. Additionally he noted a lead custodian position which was assigned to what he termed a ‘questionable’ recipient.

“I think the district needs to take a look at this and do a better job because you have a pattern now,” he said.

Following a passionate plea from an audience member who did not take the podium, Board President Mike House addressed the speakers, as well as those in attendance.

“Thank you all for coming. I appreciate it,” House said. “We recognize as a board, it’s not easy to come, stand up and as you say “air a bit of dirty laundry.” As a board we appreciate the effort that takes and the time you took to come down and explain things to us. We will do some investigating.”

As per board policy, no action was taken following on items presented during the Public Comment portion of the meeting.

Members of Oakdale Sunrise Rotary were also in attendance. They presented the board with a check for $7,500 as a donation for the Drive to Survive driver training program. The program is offered for Oakdale High School students during summer school.

The Oakdale Livestock Judging team was acknowledged by the board for its recent achievement as Reserve National Champions in Livestock Judging, an honor earned earlier this year in Indiana. It is the highest level achieved to date by the OHS FFA Livestock Judging teams.

“For them to get second was really outstanding,” Ag Department Chair Isaac Robles told the board. “I’m not surprised because I know the level of work they put into it.”

First readings were offered on varying reports, as well as the approval of the 2019-2020 school calendar.

As is tradition the meeting began with the leading of the Pledge of Allegiance by elementary school students. Sierra View Elementary school students Bailey Stepp, Hayven Smith and Jayci Volonte did the honors.

The next OJUSD Board will be hosted on Monday, Jan. 14 at 6:30 p.m. Meetings are held at the OJUSD Tech Center and Staff Development building, 331 Hinkley Ave., Oakdale.