By Sentry Staff

Constituents within the Panorama Heights portion of the Orange Unified School District want to secede from that body and join Tustin Unified.

Parents in Panorama Heights submitted a petition to the Orange County Department of Education requesting the transfer. By law, 25 percent of voters residing in the proposed territory to be reorganized must agree with the change. The OC Registrar of Voters confirmed that of the 132 signatures submitted, 97 were valid. Ninety-seven is exactly 25 percent of the impacted district voters.

Trustees of OUSD were told at their April 14 meeting that if the transfer takes place, 54 students would be required to leave the district.  Panorama Elementary would lose 24; Santiago Charter, nine; other area elementaries, 9; and 12 would move from OUSD high schools to TUSD’s Foothill High. The district estimates those transferring students would translate into a $404,707 loss for OUSD.

Neither TUSD nor Orange Unified has offered an opinion on the secession. The County Committee on School District Organization will hold public hearings, May 17, to hear testimony from the petitioners and the position of both governing boards. The 11-member district organization committee is independent from the Department of Education and has jurisdiction over all school district boundary changes, annexations, reorganizations or transfers.

If the committee determines that all of the criteria needed to allow the transfer has been met, and if both boards agree, the county will okay the move.

If even one of the criteria is not met, the petition will be denied. If either TUSD or OUSD disagree with the change, the county will call an election.

The OUSD board will discuss the issue at its May 12 meeting and decide whether it wants to oppose, support or remain neutral on the secession. The May 17 public meetings will be held in both districts. The first is at  6  p.m.  at  the  Orange Unified District Office, 1401 N. Handy St., and the second at 8 p.m. at the Tustin District Office 300 S. C Street.

Panorama Heights parents want to join TUSD