Group alleges Breach of Charitable Trust by Board and CEO

July 28, 2017.  Parents of students at Speech and Language Development Center, Inc (SLDC)* in Buena Park and donors have filed a lawsuit for Breach of Charitable Trust against the school. The lawsuit, pending in Orange County Superior Court, alleges that the Center’s Board of Directors and recently hired CEO have violated SLDC’s 62-year old Mission (To assist children and adults with special needs maximize their potential through education and therapy provided in an environment nurturing growth and inspiring achievement) by gutting the school of its most senior education administration and putting bureaucratic concerns ahead of students’ needs.  Pursuant to an ex parte application heard on Wednesday, July 26, the court expedited the matter and set a hearing date for August 11, 2017.

Maria Mantia, parent of two students currently enrolled at SLDC, says, “In two swift moves the Board and CEO ousted four senior staff members who have a collective 131 years of knowledge and experience carrying out the Mission and providing a uniquely successful program that meets our kids’ complex needs – needs that cannot be met by the public schools. Our families have spent years fighting for our children to attend SLDC and we are opposed to any plan which will water down SLDC’s program to more closely resemble public school programs. We’re trying to protect our kids and the Board and CEO have essentially been non-responsive to our concerns.”

 The lawsuit follows unsuccessful attempts by parents, staff and donors to meet with the Board to resolve their concerns. A petition calling for the reinstatement of the former principal Dawn O’Connor and her three vice principals was signed by more than 500 individuals.  The litigation seeks the appointment of Ms. O’Connor to be sole Charitable Trustee, to dissolve the existing Board of Directors and to “implement procedures for selection and installation of a new Board of Directors charged with preserving and furthering SLDC’s charitable purpose.”

  Petitioner’s counsel, Matthew S. DeArmey, stated, “Petitioners deeply appreciate the Court setting an expedited hearing date to protect these special needs children.”

*Founded in 1955, SLDC is a non-profit school and therapy center, serving nearly 300 children and young adults who have special needs in language, learning, and/or behavior. SLDC students have a variety of diagnoses, including a high percentage of students with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. The Center serves students from four counties and is certified by the state Department of Education and licensed by the state Department of Social Services.

*Donations will help pay for the mounting Legal Fees*
  • Michael Bier 
    • $250 
    • 63 mos
  • Jenny Mayfield Blackstone 
    • $50 
    • 63 mos
  • Leah Gallagher 
    • $50 
    • 63 mos
  • Lori Bosi 
    • $250 
    • 63 mos
  • Jan and Neal Veis 
    • $200 
    • 63 mos
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Organizer and beneficiary

Joni Fay Hill 
Buena Park, CA
James Harker 

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