Countywide : Job Loss Is ‘Political,’ Schools Employee Says


The only challenger for the county schools superintendent’s seat last June is protesting what he calls a “political” decision by the superintendent not to renew his contract.

Darrell Opp, head of a vocational program for county schools, said the decision by schools Supt. John Dean to allow Opp’s contract to expire was retaliatory and that Dean had threatened as much.

“He said, ‘I feel I need loyalty from my employees,’ ” Opp said. “I see this is just typical political retaliation.”


Dean said he did not in any way threaten Opp’s job. “Number one, that is illegal,” Dean said. “Number two, there’s no way I would do something like that.”

Dean said that officials have been consolidating the Department of Education for about 18 months and that Opp’s position is being combined with others. As a result, Opp’s contract will not be renewed. At that point, Opp is “certainly welcome to apply” for the new position, Dean said.

“He has a contract and we’re intending to fulfill that contract,” Dean said. “I kind of resent his saying he’s been fired.”

The contract has renewed automatically for the past five years and requires notification by the superintendent to end.

Opp also said he does not believe that Dean has the authority to decide whether to renew his contract. Opp’s program, the Central County Regional Occupation Program, serves the Orange, Santa Ana and Garden Grove school districts, and Opp maintains that the superintendents of those districts have control over his contract.

Dean said Opp’s contract “is with me,” and Dean has the authority not to renew it.

Ron Walter, superintendent of the Garden Grove Unified School District, said Dean did not check with him before terminating the contract, and that whether Dean has the authority to do so “is a legal issue yet to be resolved.”