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Rancho Ortega Blog discusses matters of public interest in South Orange County, including the communities of San Juan Capistrano, Ladera Ranch and Rancho Mission Viejo.

The writings of Don Juan Ortega on the Rancho Ortega Blog are the personal views of the author. This blog is not authored by nor does it have any affiliation whatsoever with any other person, place or entity using the name "Rancho Ortega" (or any similar name).

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Santa Margarita Catholic HS Students Report Threat Against School

A big congratulations to the students of Santa Margarita Catholic High School for doing the right thing and confidentially reporting an apparent threat against the school. Story from NBC News here. It’s a relief to know that the threat was not credible, but it is nevertheless disturbing that threatening gun violence is becoming a common [...]


One of the interesting things about writing this blog is that most of our communication with readers occurs through the back channel. We have also found that our audience includes many of the people involved with the issues about which we write, and that is gratifying because it means we are providing useful information. We [...]

New CUSD School in Rancho Mission Viejo Has a Name, But Don’t Ask Us How to Spell It

The Capistrano Dispatch is reporting that Capistrano Unified School District has selected a name for the K-8 school being built in Rancho Mission Viejo’s Planning Area 2:

Capistrano Unified school board selects name for its next K-8 campus in Rancho Mission Viejo: Escencia School.

We’re still confused by the proper spelling of Esencia/Escencia. We’ve usually [...]

Capistrano Unified Names New Superintendent

Capistrano Unified School District has named a new Superintendent to replace the retiring Joseph Farley. CUSD has named Kirsten Vital as Farley’s successor. Vital is currently serving as Superintendent of the Alameda Unified School District in Northern California. Alameda is a high-performing school district, but it is only about 1/5 the size of Capistrano Unified [...]

SWAT Team and Police Helicopter to Visit Ladera Ranch Schools on Thursday

While students at Ladera Ranch Elementary and Middle Schools will receive some exciting visitors, Ladera Ranch parents should not be alarmed to see police swarm these neighborhood schools. According to the public announcement, on this Thursday, June 19, 2014, “the Ladera Ranch Elementary and Middle Schools will be visited by South Orange County law enforcement [...]

OC Weekly Article on Talega Mello Roos Refund Dispute

The OC Weekly published an article — one admittedly written with a distinct viewpoint — about whether Capistrano Unified School District ought to refund a portion of Talega’s Mello Roos tax assessments. We wrote extensively about Mello Roos in this article, wherein we cited the Franchise Tax Board on Mello Roos as follows:

In 1982, [...]

Final Names Selected for Rancho Mission Viejo School; Don Juan Ortega Casts His Vote

According to this article in the Capistrano Dispatch, the Capistrano Unified School District has narrowed down the list of names for the new K-8 school that will be built in Planning Area 2, the Village of Esencia, in Rancho Mission Viejo. Among the finalists are:

Barbara L. Banda, a local woman who helped bring Native [...]

Rancho Mission Viejo School Gets a Principal

Rancho Mission Viejo Company will be building a new K-8 school in Planning Area 2, the Village of Esencia. The planned Capistrano Unified School doesn’t have a name, nor any buildings, nor any students yet — but it does have a principal. Read more at the Capistrano Dispatch here.

Congratulations to Five Distinguished CUSD Elementary Schools

Congratulations to the five Capistrano Unified School District Elementary Schools that were named California Distinguished Schools for 2014:

Bathgate Elementary, Mission Viejo Chaparral Elementary, Ladera Ranch Don Juan Avila Elementary, Aliso Viejo Oxford Preparatory Academy, Mission Viejo Vista del Mar Elementary, San Clemente

Congratulations to the faculty, students, staff and parents at each of these [...]

Capo Unified Open Forum with Superintendent Farley

Parents with questions about Capistrano Unified’s search for a new Superintendent have an opportunity to address those questions to the District’s current Superintendent. CUSD Superintendent Joseph Farley will hold a public forum tomorrow, Wednesday, March 19, 2014 from 7-8 PM at San Clemente High School. The forum will be held at the SCHS “Little Theater.” [...]