The Rossmoor Community Services District Board will host a special community meeting on June 22 to allow further community discussion, an update by OC Sheriff’s Department on their security plan, and a possible vote on the Orange County Board of Education plan to hold town halls about ethnic studies in their small community later in the summer.
An item sure to come up for discussion is a possible conflict of interest for RCSD Board President Jeff Barke. Barke’s wife, Mari Barke, a member of the Orange County Board of Education and Rossmoor resident, played a key part in the OCDE’s selection of the Rush Park auditorium as a site for town halls about ethnic studies. The Barkes, who are very active in local conservative politics, are lightning rods for local progressives who played a key role in ousting Jeff Barke for the school board in 2018. In 2020, Barke was the leading vote-getter in the RCSD Board member election.
The Los Alamitos School District, which includes Rossmoor, recently voted to establish guidelines for an elective Ethnic Studies program at Los Alamitos High School. It was the weeks-long over-reaction by both sides to that controversy that has concerned many Rossmoor residents who fear it might draw outside “professional activists” with their own agenda — beyond simple discussion — to the town hall.
Many, especially progressives but also less political residents of the community in the far western northwestern edge of the county, feel Rossmoor is a strange choice for county-wide forums on controversial educational topics. They contend a large number of outside attendees can lead to associated traffic and parking problems, and the possibility of violence.
Other residents have said they appreciate the opportunity to learn more about the pros and cons of the ethnic studies curriculum.
The OC Register has more details.