🗳 Candidates tied! And other close races for school boards in O.C.; Trespasser arrested at Los Alamitos High School; ⛄️ Fun things to do with kids this holiday season

The O.C. school district hiring a superintendent; 🏈 H.S. football semifinals are this week; ♻️ The local program helping students go green.

The O.C. school district hiring a superintendent; 🏈 H.S. football semifinals are this week; ♻️ The local program helping students go green.

Helping you better understand, navigate and participate in the TK-12 public school experience in Orange County.

In this week's newsletter...

November 15, 2022

  • FIRST BELL 🔔 🗳 Election 2022: A tie and other close races for school boards in O.C. as vote count continues.
  • SECOND BELL 🔔 Trespasser arrested at Los Alamitos High School. Plus, the O.C. school district hiring a new superintendent.
  • EXTRA CREDIT 📌 A guide to local family-friendly activities this holiday season.
  • RECESS 👏🏼 ♻️ The local program helping students do their part to protect the environment.

A sign directs people to a Vote Center in Seal Beach. Votes from the Nov. 8, 2022 General Election are still being counted and several school board races in O.C. are very close. Photo by Jeannette Andruss.

Spotlight Schools is a nonpartisan, hyperlocal newsroom covering education in Orange County and this is our weekly newsletter.

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Yours in knowledge,

Jeannette Andruss, Co-Founder and Chief Editorial Officer


This Week's Top Story

🗳 Election 2022: A tie and several close races for school boards in O.C. as vote tally continues

Vote counting continues almost a week after polls closed in the Nov. 8, 2022 General Election as vote-by-mail ballots are tabulated. In Orange County, there’s an estimated 176,541 total ballots left to process, according to the Nov. 14 update from the O.C. Registrar of Voters who oversees local elections. 

While winners are being declared in some races, the outcome remains unknown for a number of close contests including races for multiple school boards in Orange County. 

At least seven races for local school boards are extremely tight with candidates currently within one percentage point of each other.


So far, the biggest nail-biter this election could be the race for Trustee Area 1 on the Los Alamitos Unified School District Board of Education. The latest election results update from Nov. 14 shows incumbent Marlys Davidson and challenger Colin Edwards tied with 930 votes each.

The lead has changed in this race more than once. Two hours after polls closed, Davidson led. In the following days Edwards pulled ahead but not by more than 20 votes. Over the weekend, Davidson inched back on top with a lead of seven votes and now the candidates are even.

Table showing Nov. 14 election results update from the O.C. Registrar of Voters' office website.

According to Education Code section 5016, if there is a tie after all the votes are counted, local school districts choose how to resolve it either with a runoff or deciding the "winner by lot."

Meanwhile, in the race for the other seat on the ballot for the Los Alamitos school board, incumbent Diana Hill leads with 55.80% of the vote to parent and former teacher Rona Goldberg’s 44.20%. 


There have been lead changes in the race to represent Trustee Area B on the Cypress School District Board of Education. Right now Troy Tanaka, a parent endorsed by the teachers union, leads Jon Peat, a Cypress city council member who is terming out this year. Tanaka has just 15 more votes than Peat at this point. Peat had been ahead of Tanaka in recent days, on one day by a single vote. 

Table showing Nov. 14 election results update from the O.C. Registrar of Voters' office website.

In the other race for Cypress school board, incumbent Sandra Lee has 69.72% of the vote, well ahead of her opponent Kyle Chang.


There are two tight races in the Orange Unified School District. In Trustee Area 1, incumbent and current board president Andrea Yamasaki has 24,721 votes or 50.71% of the vote compared to Angela Williams, a parent and teacher, who currently has the support of 24,028 people representing 49.29% of the vote.

Also in the Orange Unified School District, in the race to represent Trustee Area 4, incumbent Kathy Moffat has 49.30% of the vote and is trailing challenger Madison Klovstad Miner, a parent and teacher, who has 50.70%, which amounts to 694 more votes out of the more than 49,000 tabulated in the contest so far.

Table showing Nov. 14 election results update from the O.C. Registrar of Voters' office website.


Three candidates vying to represent Trustee Area 4 on the Santa Ana Unified School District Board of Education are very close. Sylvia Iglesias leads with 1,856 votes as of the Nov. 14 update but Katelyn Brazer Aceves was only 51 votes behind in second place. And Andrew Linares was 176 votes behind Aceves.

Table showing Nov. 14 election results update from the O.C. Registrar of Voters' office website.


In other tight school board contests, candidates are competing for third place in races where up to three seats are on the ballot. These elections are held district wide, meaning voters there can consider all of the candidates running. 

Candidates are battling for the third and final seat on the ballot in contests for the Fountain Valley School District Board of Trustees, the Ocean View School District Board of Trustees and the La Habra City School District Board of Education.

Table showing Nov. 14 election results update from the O.C. Registrar of Voters' office website.

Spotlight Schools is not asking for comments from any of the candidates in these close contests until the final election results are announced. That could take several days. The results must be certified in Orange County by Dec. 8.

Read more about these tight races, find out more about the ballots that are left to count and whether a predicted “red wave” impacted school board races in California in our full story on the Spotlight Schools website.


Other Stories We're Following

Police investigating trespassing arrest at Los Alamitos High School

File photo of Los Alamitos High School. Photo by Jeannette Andruss.

A 23-year-old man was arrested for trespassing on Friday, Oct. 28 after allegedly being seen in a female bathroom on the campus of Los Alamitos High School, according to the Los Alamitos Police Department.  

This all happened as classes let out for the weekend. Students reported a suspicious man outside of the gym area on campus, according to an email sent to high school families on Nov. 8 from principal Christiana Kraus. The message said campus security “immediately responded” to the students’ reports and “followed the individual off-campus where he was arrested by the Los Alamitos Police Department.” 

Police reported getting a call at 2:24 p.m. but they are still trying to determine who made the call. 

“Detectives are investigating the incident,” Robert Acosta, public information officer for Los Alamitos police, said in an interview on Thursday, acknowledging rumors are circulating in the community that the man may have taken videos while on campus. 

Acosta did not identify the man nor where he is from, saying only the man’s phone has been confiscated and will be examined only after a judge signs a search warrant in the case. Acosta said the man voluntarily gave police his phone but officers could not get into it because of a passcode. 

“We’ve asked a local judge to approve a search warrant,” said Acosta, noting the request was delayed by the Veterans Day holiday but is expected to be approved quickly.

“According to at least one report, he was seen inside the female bathroom,” said Acosta, yet saying to this point, “all this bathroom stuff is uncorroborated.” Detectives are seeking and interviewing first hand witnesses and seeking witness statements. 

“While the [Los Alamitos Unified School] District is currently working closely with the Los Alamitos Police Department during this ongoing investigation, we have confirmed that, at this time, there is no evidence that the individual arrested made any recordings,” reads part of the Nov. 8 message from Kraus. She adds, “Campus supervisors have also closely examined all areas of the gym, locker area, and team rooms and found no evidence of cameras or recording devices.”

Read more about the story and details on campus security measures in the full story on the Spotlight Schools website

David N. Young contributed reporting and writing to this story.

Westminster School District searching for new superintendent

Westminster School District Superintendent Cyndi Paik, Ed.D., resigned her position effective Oct. 25. Photo by Jeannette Andruss

The Westminster School District is looking to hire a new superintendent. 

Cyndi Paik, Ed.D., resigned from the position on October 25. According to a message from the district, Dr. Paik’s departure “was due to personal matters.” 

“Dr. Paik has been an important part of our district for several years, and her legacy will live on. We wish her well as she takes on new challenges and thank her for her service to the WSD community and students,” read the district’s statement. 

This week the district named Charles Hinman, Ed.D, as the Interim Superintendent for WSD. Dr. Hinman most recently served as superintendent for the West Covina Unified School District for six years before his retirement in July 2021. 

At their Nov. 10 meeting, the board trustees approved a timeline for the process to fill the position which you can see here.

🏈 Los Alamitos to face Mater Dei in CIF-SS semifinal

Los Alamitos High School running back Damian Henderson scored four touchdowns in the team's win over Long Beach Polytechnic on Nov. 11. Photo by Marja Bene.

Veterans Day featured one of the state's most anticipated CIF Division 1 football playoff matchups. 

On Nov. 11, the Los Alamitos Griffins hosted the Long Beach Polytechnic Jackrabbits in Veterans Memorial Stadium in Long Beach, which both teams use as their home field. Max Preps had Los Alamitos (9-2) ranked #42 in the country while Long Beach Poly (10-0) was ranked #22. 

This highly anticipated matchup lived up to the hype and was an absolute shootout. 

On the third play of the game, Long Beach Poly intercepted a pass from Malachi Nelson and returned it to the eight yard-line. Three plays later the Jackrabbits scored on a short pass to take a 7-0 lead. The Griffins responded by methodically marching down the field and scoring on a four-yard touchdown run by Damian Henderson.  

Long Beach Poly took the ensuing kickoff back 75 yards for a touchdown. Once again, Los Alamitos would march down the field and score on a nine-yard touchdown pass to USC commit Makai Lemon, who was being defended by LSU commit Daylen Austin. 

After going three and out, Long Beach Poly shanked their punt, giving Los Alamitos the ball at mid-field. The Los Alamitos offense wasted no time and scored just a few minutes later, taking a 21-14 lead with less than a minute to go in the first quarter. 

The Los Alamitos Griffins offense would score a touchdown on the next two drives, making it five consecutive drives that ended with a touchdown, giving them a 33-28 lead at halftime. 

Long Beach Poly got the ball to start the second half and failed to score. Los Alamitos marched down the field, scoring a touchdown on a 45-yard touchdown run by Damian Henderson. The subsequent drives for each team ended the same way. Long Beach Poly failed to score and Los Alamitos scored on a 44-yard touchdown run by Anthony League. 

The Griffins were able to hold on for a final score of 52-42 and advance to the CIF-SS semifinal game at Mater Dei to be held November 18 at Santa Ana Bowl. Tickets can be purchased at gofan.co

It’s worth noting that Mater Dei’s famed football coach, Bruce Rollinson, recently announced he will retire at the end of the season.

This story was reported and written by Michael Claborn. Read his whole story here.

  • 🏈 See the rest of CIF-SS football playoff matchups here
  • PLUS: High school student-athletes take part in signing day // The O.C. Register

Other Stories We're Reading

  • O.C. Board of Education’s ‘controversial’ curriculum ban tabled until further notice // Voice of OC
  • Students call on CA’s Board of Education to address school safety, equity and mental health // EdSource
  • More electric school buses coming to Southern California // The O.C. Register
  • O.C. education and law enforcement leaders discuss dangers of fentanyl and prevention strategies // OCDE Newsroom 
  • Parents differ sharply by party over what K-12 children should learn in school // Pew Research 
  • Ballot measure would allow noncitizens to vote in school board races in Oakland // EdSource
  • O.C. high school students show creativity in their parking spots // L.A. Times
  • English language learners share success stories at Capistrano Unified // CUSD Insider

🎁 Save the Date: Nov. 29 is Giving Tuesday

Did you know Spotlight Schools relies on donations from readers like you to power our independent and hyperlocal journalism? On Nov. 29, we are participating in the national fundraiser for nonprofits known as Giving Tuesday and we would love your support. Stay tuned for details on how your contributions can lead to a more informed Orange County.


Meetings // Events // Opportunities // Resources


HAPPENING TODAY: The Los Alamitos Unified School District Board of Education is scheduled to hold a workshop at 4:00 p.m. and a meeting at 6:00 p.m. today. 

On the agenda for the 4:00 p.m. workshop: 

  • Los Alamitos Elementary school will make its presentation to the board and honor its “Hero of the Heart” award winner, Autumn Bignami.

You can watch the workshop streaming live on YouTube.

On the agenda for the 6:00 p.m. meeting

  • Discussion on lease agreement in construction of new, second gymnasium at Los Alamitos High School. 
  • Agreement allowing FaZe Clan, Inc. to film, tape and/or record football team activities at Los Alamitos High School and at away games.
  • Cost amendment in purchase of two new Blue Bird T3RE 3904 school buses.
  • Approval of the book Refugee by Alan Gratz for district’s 5th graders.

You can watch the workshop streaming live on YouTube.


Need help finding something to do during the winter holidays? KidsGuide is out with its 2022 Holiday Guide for family-friendly winter events in Orange County and beyond. Start filling up your calendar now at this link or by clicking on the flier below.


Your Dose of Good News

♻️ Program helping local students go green

Students in Price Elementary's recycling club learn about composting as part of a collaboration with OCDE's Inside the Outdoors and O.C. Waste and Recycling. Photo courtesy the OCDE.

Local elementary school students are going green with the help of a collaboration between the Orange County Department of Education’s Inside the Outdoors program and OC Waste & Recycling

Children at Adelaide Price Elementary School in Anaheim are using what they’ve learned in a new curriculum from the agencies, first launched in 2021, to make composting and recycling a part of campus culture. 

Students want to do their part to protect the environment and motivate others to join them in the effort. 

On Thursdays on campus, you might hear students chanting “Who recycles? We recycle! What do we recycle? Bottles and cans. Bottles and cans” at morning drop-off. That’s when the school’s recycling club collects items to bring to the recycling center. 

“What this does for our students is it brings the textbook to life. We are to connect the standards to real world practices,” Principal Dr. Monica Munguia Valencia told the OCDE Newsroom

To mark America Recycles Day on Nov. 15, Inside the Outdoors and OC Waste & Recycling representatives paid a visit to Price elementary.

With the help of  Environmental Education Services and Programs founder Alan Piercy, students learned about composting and how it reduces the amount of generated waste in our environment.

Read more about this Earth-friendly effort that nearly 20 local schools have participated in at the OCDE Newsroom.

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