Saturday, November 15, 2014

Los Angeles Schools Win Teacher Sex Suit By Blaming 14-Year-Old Girl

The LAUSD school board members are pretending that they were clueless as to how a lawyer would defend the school district in a teacher-sex-with-a-14-year-old lawsuit. No, it's worse than that. They're acting as if they're morally superior: they removed the lawyer for doing exactly what he understood he was hired to do. The Council of School Attorneys has very uniform standards about how to conduct litigation. Education attorneys understand that schools hire them to keep secrets and to disregard the basic rules of decency in their efforts to win cases.

The board itself should have resigned en masse.

The board's decision to remove the lawyer was purely political. It wouldn't have happened except for public criticism. Usually school boards get rid of lawyers who are too decent during court cases.


Los Angeles Schools Win Teacher Sex Suit By Blaming 14-Year-Old Girl
BRIAN MELLEY
Huff Post
11/14/2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles school district on Friday removed a lawyer who successfully defended it in a sexual abuse lawsuit in which he told jurors that a 14-year-old girl who had sex with a male teacher shared responsibility despite her age.
The trial victory spared the cash-strapped district a potentially pricey verdict, but news of the trial strategy and remarks by attorney W. Keith Wyatt that it was a more dangerous decision to cross the street than to have sex with a teacher drew criticism.
"Mr. Wyatt's comments yesterday were completely inappropriate, and they undermine the spirit of the environment we strive to offer our students every day," Dave Holmquist, general counsel for the school district, said in a statement. "Our deepest apologies go out to the young woman and her family, who were hurt by the insensitive remarks of Mr. Wyatt."
Wyatt, who had worked with the district through an outside firm for 27 years and had 18 cases pending, would not comment.
The girl who lost the case is appealing because the judge allowed evidence of her sexual history to be presented and because Wyatt blamed her for consenting to the sex even though she was too young to do so.
"She lied to her mother so she could have sex with her teacher," Wyatt had told KPCC, which first reported the story. "She went to a motel in which she engaged in voluntary consensual sex with her teacher. Why shouldn't she be responsible for that?
The teacher in the case, Elkis Hermida, was sentenced in 2011 to three years in prison for lewd acts against a child.
The Los Angeles Unified School District claimed it was unaware of the relationship between the teacher and student and was cleared last year of wrongdoing by a civil jury in Los Angeles Superior Court. The girl was not awarded damages for the emotional trauma she said she suffered during a five-month relationship with the teacher.
The case exposed an apparent inconsistency in the standard for sexual consent in California criminal and civil cases.
In criminal cases, a 14-year-old girl is too young to consent to sex with an adult. Wyatt, however, cited a federal court decision that said a minor could consent to sex in some circumstances.
The federal case cited by Wyatt relies on a California Supreme Court decision about jury instructions in an incest case, said Mary Fan, a law professor at the University of Washington. The creative application of the language was probably never envisioned by the state's high court.
"Some language plucked out of the original case has grown to monstrous proportions," Fan said. "Pretty soon it looks like a viable argument. When a court accepts it, it just grows into its own beast."
Lawyers and advocates for sexual abuse victims said the legal tactic was surprising.
"I was shocked. I've done sexual abuse cases against school districts before and I've never seen the persistence of this argument," said Holly Boyer, who filed the appeal for the girl. "I've never seen this at all that the victim willingly participated in this and that they should bear some responsibility in their injuries."
While Wyatt had argued that the teacher and girl went to extreme lengths to hide their relationship, Boyer said there were enough warning signs that the school should have been aware of the teacher's conduct.
He was seen hugging other girls and began to groom the victim at age 13 through texting, phone calls and exchanging photos, Boyer said, adding the sexual abuse began when the girl was 14 and some of it occurred in the classroom.
Boyer also plans to argue that the girl's sexual past should not have been allowed into evidence. Typically, such evidence is barred in criminal cases by rape shield laws, but not always in civil actions.
"It's terrible, but not unusual that a school would try to muddy the waters" by presenting such evidence, said Fatima Goss Graves, a vice president at the National Women's Law Center. "The law on whether and when that sort of evidence is permitted is sort of murky and one of the reasons why Congress is looking at additional law ... that looks more like a criminal rape shield law."

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Teachers grade Common Core: C+ and room for improvement

Teachers grade Common Core: C+ and room for improvement
A survey of teachers on Common Core education standards showed mixed results. Half of teachers surveyed think Common Core standards help students with critical thinking, but their enthusiasm has waned.
By Stacy Teicher Khadaroo
CS Monitor
OCTOBER 3, 2014

"Teachers feel more prepared to teach the Common Core State Standards and are already starting to see students improve their critical thinking skills. But the enthusiasm has dipped since last year, and only half say the new standards will be positive for most students.

Those are some key findings in a survey of 1,676 K-12 teachers in the 43 states that have adopted Common Core, released by Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation...

The survey found clear progress on implementation of the standards. Twenty-five percent of teachers said implementation is complete in their schools, and another 39 percent said it is mostly complete (up from 13 and 33 percent last year).

In schools where implementation was fully complete in 2013-14, most teachers agreed somewhat (62 percent) or strongly (24 percent) that implementation was going well.

Seventy-nine percent of teachers said they feel somewhat or very prepared to teach the new standards, up from 71 percent a year ago.

In schools where implementation is under way or complete, 53 percent of teachers said students have already improved their ability to think critically, use reasoning skills, and present their ideas based on evidence; 50 percent said students are better able to comprehend informational texts; and 46 percent said students are working more collaboratively with peers.

However, the percentage who said they are enthusiastic about the standards declined from 73 percent to 68 percent. And the percentage who said implementation is or will be challenging has climbed from 73 percent to 81 percent.

Teachers are split on the impact on students: 48 percent said Common Core will be positive for most students, 17 percent said they will be negative, and the remainder said they won’t make much difference. Last year, 57 percent said the standards would be positive and only 8 percent said they would be negative.

Teachers are concerned with what will happen to students who have the longest road to travel to meet the standards and how student scores on new assessments will affect teacher evaluations.

But “the teachers who were more negative were also less involved with implementing the Common Core,” and tended to get information more from the media than from their own districts, says Margery Mayer, president of Scholastic Education. The survey findings suggest that when it comes to Common Core implementation, “the more you do it, the more you love it,” she says.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Drop the Assault Charges Against Bullied Teen, Eric Martin

Drop the Assault Charges Against Bullied Teen, Eric Martin
Petition by Lindsay Ryan
Kingston, United States

Early this fall, Eric Martin was a ninth grader about to begin the next chapter in his life, high school.  Before the school year had begun, Eric's parents visited with school staff to discuss concerns over years of documented bullying Eric had endured since first grade.  Highland Spring High school administration assured the Martins the school had active and effective zero tolerance bullying prevention policies, and not to worry about their son's safety.
Described by his family as a "soft-spoken, creative 'still waters run deep' personality," his transition into high school was not safe and made difficult when he became a target for bullying and harassment from fellow students.  On September 4th, after repeated bullying, including gay slurs and inaction from school staff, a fellow student called Eric an abusive word, then moved closer to him to continue to harass him.  Eric asked him to leave him alone, but the bully continued to verbally harass him and then threateningly postured near him.  Eric felt intimiated and that he needed to protect himself.  Eric admitted to lunging first, but only because he could sense that the bully and his friends were going to physically attack him.
What followed was not a fight, but a horrible beating that left Eric in the hospital for nine days and his assailants with little injury. Eric's attackers viciously beat him, causing him to have a broken hand and a traumatic brain injury (TBI), leaving him unconscious by the end. This brain injury will permanently impact Eric's life. He continues to receive medical treatment for his injuries seven weeks later.
Most surprising is Highland Springs High School, because of their Zero-Tolerance Bullying Policy, has decided to file assault charges against Eric for his behavior, twelve days after the incident occured. Also, they allege that he has made threats against the school and will not permit him back on school grounds without him signing a student threat document. His mom, Mary Martin refused to allow Eric to sign the document. Recently, Eric has been allowed to attend another high school in the district. The Martin family has hired a lawyer to fight against the charges brought against Eric. His first court appearance was earlier this month with his trial date set for November 21st. They have also started a GoFundMe campaign account to help pay for the medical, legal, and education fees. 
The Martin family, Tammy Motola, their family advocate, myself and many others do not think the school has chosen the right path. We demand justice for Eric Martin!  We are asking the school to drop the charges against Eric and discuss another course of action for addressing the situation.

See petition.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Results for Nov. 4, 2014 election CVESD and Sweetwater Union High School District


SWEETWATER UNION High School Trustee Area No. 1
Vote for: 1
ARTURO SOLIS 3060 45.42% [winner]
 BURT GROSSMAN 2628 39.01%
JEROME O. TORRES 1049 15.57%

SWEETWATER UNION High School Trustee Area No. 2
Vote for: 1
 KEVIN J. PIKE 3587 27.32% [winner]
ADRIAN ARANCIBIA 3121 23.77%
KEVIN O'NEILL 2257 17.19%
DANA TOOGOOD 2095 15.95%
BERTHA J. LOPEZ 2071 15.77%

SWEETWATER UNION High School Trustee Area No. 3
Vote for: 1
FRANK A. TARANTINO 3124 35.05% [winner]
RICHARD F. ARROYO 2017 22.63%
JIM CARTMILL 21.34%
CHRIS SHILLING 20.98%

SWEETWATER UNION High School Trustee Area No. 4
Vote for: 1
 NICHOLAS SEGURA 36.50% [winner]
DERRICK W. ROACH 26.69%
FELIPE NUNO 19.81%
TINO MARTINEZ 10.96%
VALLEY P. COLEMAN 6.04%

 SWEETWATER UNION High School Trustee Area No. 5
Vote for: 1
 PAULA HALL 40.88%  [winner]
WILLIAM MCLEROY 25.41%
MARCELINO MARTINEZ 19.71%
THOMAS 'TOM' SCHAAF 14.00%


CHULA VISTA ELEMENTARY SEAT NO. 1
Precincts: 171
Counted: 171
Percentage: 100.0%

Vote for: 1

FRANCISCO TAMAYO

10922

36.74%

BARBARA  MAJCHRZAK

8304

27.94%

GEORGE CAMERON

6170

20.76%

HECTOR R. GASTELUM

4330

14.57%




CHULA VISTA ELEMENTARY SEAT NO. 3
Precincts: 171
Counted: 171
Percentage: 100.0%

Vote for: 1

LESLIE RAY BUNKER

17992

61.20%

RUDY RAMIREZ

11407

38.80%




CHULA VISTA ELEMENTARY SEAT NO. 5
Precincts: 171
Counted: 171
Percentage: 100.0%

Vote for: 1

EDUARDO REYES

17687

60.29%

JOSHUA R. SMITH

7511

25.60%

WILLARD HOWARD

4137

14.10%

from San Diego Registrar of Voters

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Sign the petition: Stop NPR from gutting its climate coverage

Stop NPR from gutting its climate coverage.

Credo
Nov. 2, 2014
Sign the petition: Stop NPR from gutting its climate coverage.

National Public Radio just made the baffling decision to drastically reduce its staff dedicated to covering climate change and the environment, leaving just one part-time reporter on the beat.1

It’s unacceptable for one of our major sources of journalism in the public interest to essentially abandon it’s coverage of climate and the environment by reducing the staff covering it from four full-time journalists to one part-time reporter...
 
NPR’s decision is part of a disturbing anti-science trend within the news media. According to a study released last year, the number of newspapers that included a weekly science sections has shrunk from 85 to just 19 in the past 25 years.3 That’s why it is so crucial for NPR to provide meaningful coverage of climate change that is honest with the American people about the scope of the problem and what must be done to address it.

Tell NPR: One part-time reporter is not enough. Reverse the decision to slash your team of reporters covering climate change and the environment...

"One part-time reporter covering climate and the environment is not enough! Reverse your decision to radically reduce your coverage of climate change and the environment."


NBC News
Nov. 2, 2014

Pollution and climate change due to human influence is “clear,” and the observed effects are “unprecedented,” according to a report released Sunday by a United Nations panel.
The 116-page report is the fifth since 1990 prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The latest installment synthesizes the findings of the previous four reports and presents new conclusions that environmental scientists arrived at since the fourth report was released in 2007.
Economic and population growth have contributed to greenhouse emissions, which are “higher than ever,” and caused the earth to warm, the report concludes.
“The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, and sea level has risen,” the report said, adding that this has caused extreme weather all over the world. “It is very likely that heat waves will occur more often and last longer, and that extreme precipitation events will become more intense and frequent in many regions.” The risks that these extreme weather conditions present affect a wide range of people but are most devastating to disadvantaged populations, the report said.
The report recommends allocating finances to encourage people and governments to come up with new ideas to tackle climate change. IPCC vice chair Jean-Pascal van Ypersele wrote on Twitter that “ordinary people” can make choices that reduce climate change, “but policymakers have responsibility to facilitate.”
Still, the report warns that “even with adaptation, warming by the end of the 21st century will lead to high to very high risk of severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts globally.”
“We can't prevent a large scale disaster if we don't heed this kind of hard science,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday in response to the report. “The longer we are stuck in a debate over ideology and politics, the more the costs of inaction grow and grow.”

Friday, October 31, 2014

Shame on California Teachers Association (CTA) for opposing Prop 46; is CTA in the pocket of the Medical Association?

The California Medical Association has been wining and dining Democrats.  California Teachers Association seems very vulnerable to such attentions.  CTA has been campaigning to protect negligent doctors, keeping shamefully low caps on damages for extreme harm to patients.  Prop 46 is a positive step in the right direction for protecting patients in California.  Why is CTA opposing it?  CTA is playing politics and ignoring basic principles of fairness.

We test kids who play basketball.  We test pilots.  Why don't we test doctors?  Think of how many lives would be saved if more doctors were thinking clearly when they see patients, and if doctors had to pay a reasonable amount when they ruin lives.  See below Consumer Watchdog press release and LA Times article.




Doctors That Harm - The Real Stories Insurance Companies Against Prop 46 Don't Want You To Know: Dr. Carl Bergstrom
Lisa Cohen lisa@lisacohen.org

 CARMEL, CA: Dr. Bergstrom was arrested based on a report of sexual assault after a night of drinking.

During the trial, the prosecution produced an audiotape which Dr. Bergstrom had accidentally created when he left his office dictation machine on. Dr. Bergstrom was heard buying cocaine, using cocaine, and trading cocaine for sex on the 5.5 hours-long audiotape. Dr. Bergstrom admitted at trial that he traded prescription drugs for cocaine.

The audiotape also recorded Dr. Bergstrom issuing medical orders, dictating patient chart notes, and providing telephone consultations to patients after using, and while under the influence of, cocaine.
During the trial, two other women testified that they were similarly assaulted by Dr. Bergstrom. Both testified that they believed that they may have been drugged.

Dr. Bergstrom was ultimately sentenced to prison for felony sexual battery. As a result, Dr. Bergstrom's medical license was revoked.

Proposition 46, the Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act, will enact the first law in the nation to require random drug and alcohol tests of physicians in hospitals, modeled after the Federal Aviation Administration testing program that has successfully reduced substance abuse by pilots. Doctors found to be impaired on the job will have their license suspended. If Prop 46 had been in effect, Dr. Bergstrom's drug abuse may have been detected, possibly preventing threats to patient safety in the process.

Hall of Shame: Insurance Companies Backing No on 46

NorCal Mutual Insurance Company    $11,000,000.00
The Doctors Company    $10,500,000.00
Cooperative of American Physicians    $10,161,489.04
Kaiser Foundation Health Plan    $5,000,000.00
Medical Insurance Exchange of California    $5,000,000.00
The Dentists Insurance Company    $1,620,000.00
The Mutual Risk Retention Group    $1,000,000.00

All Insurers:     $44,613,583.22

Total:     $59,169,984.79


Insurance companies have spent nearly $45 million dollars to oppose Prop 46 in order to shield dangerous doctors like Dr. Bergstrom from punishment, at the expense of patient safety, in order to protect their already substantial profits. In total, the opposition to Prop 46 has over $59 million dollars in their warchest, outspending consumer and patient safety advocates more than 8:1.

Learn more about Proposition 46 and the campaign for patient safety at: www.yeson46.org

Your Neighbors for Patient Safety, a Coalition of Consumer Attorneys and Patient Safety Advocates - Consumer Attorneys of California Issues
Initiative Defense Political Action Committees
Kabateck, Brown, Kellner, LLP





A voter guide to California's boring but important ballot propositions
George Skelton Los Angeles Times
Oct. 30, 2014

...Prop. 46 would return the limit on medical malpractice pain-and-suffering payouts to the same dollar value it was in 1975. Inflation has greatly eroded it.

Doctors, hospitals and insurers have raised more than $55 million to kill the measure. They claim it would cause healthcare costs to skyrocket. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office, however, calculates the increased cost as practically infinitesimal: less than 0.5%.

Back in 1975, then-Gov. Brown and the Legislature set the cap on noneconomic damage awards at $250,000. If that had been adjusted annually for inflation, it would be $1.1 million today. That's where Prop. 46 would reset it.

Opposition ads are demonizing trial lawyers, contending Prop. 46 is all about enriching them. But it's really about securing justice for malpractice victims, who now have difficulty hiring lawyers because the potential awards are so low.

The measure also does two other things. It would require drug and alcohol testing of hospital doctors. And to fight pain pill addiction, it would force doctors to use a state database that tracks patients' prescription histories.

It's long past time to bring the medical malpractice cap into the 21st century. And there's nothing wrong with requiring hospital doctors to undergo drug testing, as pilots and bus drivers do. Controlling pain pill addiction through modern technology also makes sense...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pope says God is not a magician who waves a wand



Pope says evolution, Big Bang are real



VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has waded into the controversial debate over the origins of human life, saying the big bang theory did not contradict the role of a divine creator, but even required it.
The pope was addressing the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which gathered Monday at the Vatican to discuss "Evolving Concepts of Nature."

"When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so," Francis said.

"He created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they would reach their fulfillment."

Francis said the beginning of the world was not "a work of chaos" but created from a principle of love. He said sometimes competing beliefs in creation and evolution could co-exist.

Pope Francis tells an audience that the Big Bang does not contradict the "creative intervention of God". He says, "on the contrary, it requires it". Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Newslook
"God is not a divine being or a magician, but the Creator who brought everything to life," the pope said. "Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve."
Unlike much of evangelical Protestantism in the U.S., Catholic teaching traditionally has not been at odds with evolution. In 1950, Pope Pius XII proclaimed there was no opposition between evolution and Catholic doctrine. In 1996, St. John Paul II endorsed Pius' statement.
Some wondered if Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wanted to change that when he and some acolytes seemed to endorse the theory of intelligent design, the idea that the world is too complex to have evolved according to Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection.
Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn of Vienna, a close associate of Benedict, penned a widely noticed 2005 op-ed in The New York Times that said "Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense — an unguided, unplanned process … is not."
Giovanni Bignami, a professor and president of Italy's National Institute for Astrophysics, welcomed Francis' comments, saying he had buried the "pseudo theories" of creationists.
"The pope's statement is significant," Bignami told Italian news agency Adnkronos. "We are the direct descendants from the Big Bang that created the universe. Evolution came from creation."
Giulio Giorello, professor of the philosophy of science at Milan's University degli Studi, said he believed Francis was "trying to reduce the emotion of dispute or presumed disputes" with science.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Did UCSD deal in good faith with C.H.E. Cafe?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 22, 2014
CONTACTS:

MEDIA ADVISORY
SAN DIEGO – On Tuesday, October 21, 2014, at approximately 10:00 a.m., San Diego Superior Court Judge Katherine Bacal issued a ruling in favor of UCSD in the eviction lawsuit filed by the Regents of the University of California/UCSD at the behest of a select core of administrators (“Administration”) against the C.H.E. Café Collective over the use of the iconic 34-year old, vegan, student-controlled venue and creative space, the C.H.E. Café.
Upholding the Collective’s main legal theory, Judge Bacal rejected the Administration's claim that the dispute resolution provisions of the lease did not apply to the termination at issue in this case. However, she also found there was insufficient evidence that a formal request for dispute resolution had been made by the Collective, thus permitting the Administration to terminate the lease at will. Yet, the Administration had acknowledged a request for dispute resolution had been made but had argued it was mooted by a previous lawsuit filed by the Collective that was later dismissed.  In addition, the Collective was reassured in various conversations that it was protected by a ‘holdover status’ provision in the lease and that it did not need to worry about an eviction. 
Completely disregarding these earlier reassurances, the University filed its eviction lawsuit and argued in court that dispute resolution was never formally requested by the Collective.  
Ignoring the true facts and history of negotiations, the Administration was able to convince the Judge that the formal requirements for invoking dispute resolution had not been followed by the Collective, and the Court ultimately held that thus the Administration had a right to terminate the lease with the Collective.   
"I am glad the judge sided with our position that the dispute resolution provision portion of the lease applied to this termination," stated Bryan Pease, attorney for the Collective. "I am just a bit perplexed that the basis for ruling in favor of the University was lack of evidence that dispute resolution had been requested, when there was evidence before the Court that it had been, and when both parties addressed it in closing arguments. The University misled its own students throughout the last several years by consistently asserting that dispute resolution did not apply, and that the Collective did not need to formally request dispute resolution as part of the lease terms. Unfortunately, apparently applying the same tactics, the University was able to convince the Court that it had the right to evict the Collective at will.”   
Katherine A. Bacal is a judge for the Superior Court of San Diego County in California. She was appointed by former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in January 2008 to succeed Thomas C. Hendrix. 

Education

Bacal received a bachelor's degree from the University of Redlands and a J.D. from the University of Texas at Austin.

Career

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

New Jersey school cancels football season amid criminal bullying probe

New Jersey school cancels football season amid criminal probe


The football season at a storied New Jersey high school has been canceled amid "significant and serious" allegations of harassment, intimidation and bullying.
Sayreville Schools Superintendent Rich Labbe made the announcement late Monday during a meeting with the parents of football players. The development follows word of a criminal investigation by the county prosecutor, which Labbe said he could not discuss. Labbe says Prosecutor Andrew Carey told him there is credible evidence to indicate pervasive, wide-scale and generally accepted forms of harassment, intimidation and bullying within the program.
"We can set the standard right now for all kids, for all school districts in Middlesex County, in the state and in the nation that we are not going to stand around and allow kids to do this to one another," Labbe said. "We are going to start holding our students responsible for doing the right thing and reporting these kinds of behaviors."
"We are going to start holding our students responsible for doing the right thing and reporting these kinds of behaviors."- Schools Superintendent Rich Labbe
Sayreville's team has won three sectional titles over the past four years and is widely regarded as one of the state's top public school football programs. The Bombers string of 20 consecutive playoff appearances will now come to an end, The Home News Tribune reports.
The district canceled and forfeited a game that was scheduled last Friday. A criminal investigation is ongoing and details will not be released until its completed, authorities said.
Labbe said he could not discuss the future of the coaching staff, some of whom may face criminal charges. He announced last week that prosecutors were investigations allegations of a "significant and serious nature" within the program. The alleged victims and perpetrators have not been identified, he said.
"Right now our focus is on several things," Labbe said. "First and foremost, our focus is on the victims involved in this case. We want them and their parents to know that we are here for them and willing to do anything and everything to help so that they feel safe once again in our schools. Secondly, we do have to remember that this is a criminal investigation in which all parties are innocent until proven guilty. We also have to do everything in our power to cooperate with law enforcement, which primarily included staying out of their way."
Sayreville Athletics Director John Kohutanycz reportedly discussed the level of supervision school district officials provide for children before, during and after competitions and practices. Counselors have also been made available for any student who may have been impacted by the situation.
"We are standing up together as a Board of Education and as a district in saying no to bullying in Sayreville," Labbe said. "And we are inviting others to join us in our stance."
Also last week, an assistant football coach at the high school resigned amid allegations that he possessed steroids. Labbe said the allegations against the former defensive coordinator were the focus of a separate investigation and were not related to the cancellation of last week's game.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ninth Circuit says Sweetwater fired coach for demanding equal treatment of girls

Sweetwater board members got in trouble for having dinner with contractors, but who's going to hold them accountable for firing a coach because he demanded that the law be obeyed?

Monday, September 22, 2014


     (CN) - A San Diego high school must face claims that it fired the softball coach for demanding equal treatment in the girls' sports program, the 9th Circuit ruled Friday.
     The ruling stems from a 2007 class action filed by five girls on the softball team at Castle Park High School in Chula Vista. Among other things, the girls contended that Sweetwater Union High School District discouraged girls from participating in athletics by giving boys more opportunities to play sports; gave boys better practice facilities, locker rooms and equipment; publicizing boys' events more than girls' events; and giving boys' sports programs more funding.
     They also claimed the school district fired Chris Martinez, the girls' softball coach, after two of the girls' parents filed complaints under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits sexual discrimination in education.
     U.S. District Judge M. James Lorenz concluded      in February 2012 after a 10-day bench trial that Sweetwater had discriminated against female athletes and had retaliated against Coach Martinez in violation of Title IX.
     A three-judge panel with the 9th Circuit affirmed Friday.
     Sweetwater had claimed in its defense that the discrepancy between female and male participation in Castle Park athletics correlated to the school's lower female enrollment generally. It also said that girls' participation in sports was on the rise, but that Castle Park girls were not interested enough in certain sports to merit permanent teams.
     In siding with the girls Friday, the 9th Circuit highlighted that the disparity between girls' enrollment at Castle Park and girls' participation in sports was never less than 6.7 percent, and was often as high as 13 percent.
     As such, 47 girls could have played sports if opportunities were available to them, according to the ruling.
     Since Sweetwater could not explain why 47 girls were not enough to maintain at least one competitive team, its defense fails, the court found.
     Equal proportionality also would not help Sweetwater pass Title IX's "effective accommodation" test because it lacks a steady history of expanding girls' sports programs at Castle Park, the court found.
     In fact, it cut the girls' field hockey team twice despite active interest in the sport and enough athletes to sustain a team, the ruling states.
     Sweetwater also failed to show that testimony from two of its expert witnesses - retired superintendant Peter Schiff and assistant principal Penny Parker - had been improperly excluded. Neither could support their opinions with clear, reliable methodology, according to the ruling.
     "Schiff and Parker based their proposed testimony on superficial inspections of the Castle Park facilities," Judge Ronald Gould wrote for the court. "Even if a visual walkthrough, without more, could be enough in some cases to render expert testimony admissible under Rule 702, it certainly does not compel that conclusion in all cases. Moreover, as the district court found, Schiff and Parker's conclusions were based on their 'personal opinions and speculation rather than on a systematic assessment of [Castle Park's] athletic facilities and programs.' But personal opinion testimony is inadmissible as a matter of law under Rule 702, and speculative testimony is inherently unreliable." (Emphasis and brackets in original.)
     As for the exclusion of 38 Sweetwater witnesses, the court found that Sweetwater improperly waited 15 months after the conclusion of discovery to disclose them.
     "The theory of disclosure under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is to encourage parties to try cases on the merits, not by surprise, and not by ambush," Gould wrote.
     "That another witness has made a passing reference in a deposition to a person with knowledge or responsibilities who could conceivably be a witness does not satisfy a party's disclosure obligations," he added. "An adverse party should not have to guess which undisclosed witnesses may be called to testify."
     It was neither justifiable nor harmless to spring a long list of new witnesses on the plaintiffs a mere eight months before trial, and the District Court did not abuse its discretion by excluding them, the ruling states.
     Pointing to the trial court's finding, after reviewing some contemporaneous evidence, that improvements to the softball facilities were still inadequate, the appellate court said Sweetwater could not show an abuse of discretion.
     In light of the "systematic problem of gender inequality" still present in Castle Park's sports programs, "an injunction based on past harm" was reasonable, Gould wrote. Sweetwater likewise could not show that the students did not have standing to bring Title IX retaliation claims for its firing of Coach Martinez.
     This argument "misunderstands plaintiffs' claim, which asserts that Sweetwater impermissibly retaliated against them by firing Coach Martinez in response to Title IX complaints he made on [their] behalf," Gould wrote (emphasis in original).
     After firing Martinez, Sweetwater took away the team's assistant coaches, canceled their awards banquet and "forbade them from participating in a Las Vegas tournament attended by college recruiters," injuries that affirm the girls' standing, the ruling states.
     The timing of when the girls complained about sex discrimination, Coach Martinez's firing and the canceling of the awards banquet is enough to show requisite causation, the ruling also states.

     Moreover, Sweetwater's "shifting, inconsistent reasons" for firing Coach Martinez imply that the reasons it gave for firing him - including that he allegedly allowed an ineligible student to play and that it wanted to replace him with an on-site coach - were pretextual, and the district court correctly identified them as such, the court found.

     "We reject Sweetwater's attempt to relitigate the merits of its case," the ruling states. "Title IX helps level the playing field for female athletes. In implementing this important principle, the district court committed no error." [p. 46 last graf]
     Paul Carelli IV with Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff & Holtz of San Diego argued the case for the school district.
     Elizabeth Kristen with Legal Aid Society Employment Law Center of San Francisco represented the plaintiffs, and Department of Justice attorney Erin H. Flynn, Fatima Goss Graves with the National Women's Law Center in Washington, D.C. and Kristen Galles with Equity Legal filed amicus curiae briefs in support of the plaintiffs.
     Judge N.R. Smith and Chief U.S. District Judge Morrison England, sitting by designation from Sacramento, concurred. 

How much did San Diego County Office of Education-JPA pay to delay girls' softball field?

(This article is being republished after editing.  It was originally published in 2009.)


Legal fees from losing Title IX suit prove costly
By Brent Schrotenboer
San Diego Union-Tribune
January 28, 2009

...The Ramona school district has been scrambling to find a way to pay almost $325,000 in attorneys' fees and costs to Ramona High softball parents who sued in 2007 because boys had a better baseball facility...


* * *


Here's another article about the case written by Marquette University Law School:

"During previous proceedings, Ramona Unified School District (RUSD) was required to provide softball facilities that are comparable to the boys' baseball team. The parties were involved in a mediation process to come up with a proposal. The parties were able to come up with four different proposals, which included building a new softball field. The court had originally told RUSD to remedy the disparity prior to the 2008 season opener, but the court allowed the district to have the girls play on the middle school field until the new field was finished as long as the middle school field was renovated to fix drainage and irrigation problems. However, the court held that RUSD must provide an expected timeline to the court as well as provide monthly updates to ensure that it remains on schedule."

Multiple San Diego school districts ignore Title IX

 Update Sept. 24, 2014:  The author of the letter below was writing about Ramona and Grossmont school districts, but some of his/her comments also apply to Sweetwater Union High School District, which lost an appeal to the Ninth Circuit in Sept. 2014 regarding its firing of a coach for complaining about violations of Title IX.

Four board members of Sweetwater Union High School District recently pled guilty to corruption charges.  

The reader who wrote the letter below was responding to a story I discussed HERE.

Original article:

(This article is being republished after editing.  It was originally published in 2009.)

San Diego Union-Tribune reader comment by "T728"
January 30, 2009
Editor:

Ramona retained the same legal counsel that represented Grossmont High School District 10 years ago when I did the Title IX at Grossmont. That same counsel knew from the beginning what the outcome was/had to be at Ramona...

Two conclusions can be drawn.

First, Ramona didn’t want to abide by the federal law by somehow suggesting they were exempt...

The premise for Title IX is frequently over looked as demonstrated a few weeks ago with the question of continuing football at SDSU because of Title IX. The Supreme Court ruled back in the mid 90’s that the Federal Government doesn’t collect taxes by gender, and as such, the benefits of collect tax receipts must benefit each gender in government sponsored expenditures such as tax supported public schools.

The new superintendent still wants to blame the girls for the problem because he says the girls didn’t want to wait until the fairy shrimp moved to another location.

The new superintendent, along with the principal, and the prior superintendent should get together and explain to the District tax payers why their course of action of spending something like nearly three quarters of a million dollars on legal fees, school administration time, a playing field that was known not to satisfy the parity criteria, plus the cost of building the on campus field was a good use of tax payers money.

If they can’t explain it, then the tax payers shouldn’t be on the hook and those three should be held accountable by paying for it out of their current pay, or retirement pay, because of intentional reckless disregard for both girls and boys and the tax payers.

At Helix and elsewhere within the Grossmont District, the average cost of a new softball field was about $100K for each of the seven fields that were built.


Mesa College
State College

Castle Park High School loses girls sports case; when will Randy Ward hire lawyers who advise schools to follow the law?

A judge has ruled against Castle Park High School regarding the equality of girls' sports facilities (see story from SDUT below).

Shame on San Diego County Office of Education-Joint Powers Authority and its member school districts for helping schools to ignore the law and, even worse, to engage in retaliation against those who complain about violations of law.

Instead of wasting tax dollars in endless litigation, SDCOE-JPA should have settled this case and many other cases. Even worse is SDCOE's protection of bad administrators by helping the school district retaliate against those who complained. 
Students are hurt by the systematic removal of good school employees.  This Castle Park High case in Sweetwater Union High School District (see story below) is all too familiar.

The firing of the Castle Park High coach is reminiscent of
1) the Coach James "Ted" Carter case;
2) the Mary Anne Weegar case (also in Sweetwater; also involving Supt. Ed Brand);
3) the Rodger Harnett case.

In another example of unlawful retaliation, SDCOE recently sued this blogger for serving a deposition subpoena on Risk Management Executive Director Diane Crosier.

It's time for SDCOE Superintendent Randy Ward to hire lawyers who will guide schools toward compliance with the law, instead of lawyers who try to help schools get away with wrongdoing. But most importantly, the retaliation has to stop. A judge recently told Mr. Ward that he should conduct investigations of wrongdoing instead of firing whistle-blowers.




Judge rules school shows bias in sports
By Brent Schrotenboer
San Diego Union-Tribune
April 2, 2009

SOUTH BAY — A federal judge has ruled that Castle Park High School has allowed “significant gender-based disparity” in sports at the expense of female athletes.

In a summary judgment this week, U.S. District Court Judge M. James Lorenz ruled that Castle Park is not in compliance with Title IX, the 37-year-old federal law that forbids sex discrimination in any education program or activity receiving federal funds...

The remaining claims will go forward in court, including one that the district retaliated against the plaintiffs by firing their coach after they complained of discrimination.
The plaintiffs showed that while female enrollment at Castle Park was 45 percent to 50 percent since 1998, female participation in athletics was 33 percent to 41 percent during those years...

Over the past 11 years in the county, the Ramona school district, Mesa College and the Grossmont Union High School District have faced similar legal complaints involving Title IX and subpar softball facilities.

Presentation: “Litigation in Schools Involving Athletics”

Update:  Sweetwater loses appeal.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal found that Sweetwater Union fired a coach for demanding that Title IX federal law be obeyed.  The law requires equal access for girls to athletics.


ORIGINAL POST: 

(This article is being republished after editing.  It was originally published in 2009.)

Presentation: “Litigation in Schools Involving Athletics”

Stutz law firm partner Daniel Shinoff presented “Litigation in Schools Involving Athletics” at the California Council of School Attorneys Workshop, held at the San Diego Marriott on December 1, 2011. The County Counsel Association helped arrange the presentation, which met State Bar of California requirements for Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) for attendees.


Sweetwater will appeal ruling
Allison K. Sampité
Chula Vista Star-News
Feb 18 2012

A recent Title IX ruling by a San Diego District Court judge against the Sweetwater Union High School District for gender-based disparities in sports at Castle Park High will be appealed, according to the district's attorney.

Daniel Shinoff, who has represented the district for approximately 30 years, says the grounds for appeal include no actual violation and the fact that all inequities have since been corrected.
In his ruling last week, Judge James M. Lorenz said the district violated female students’ rights under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the United States Constitution because its sports program unfairly favored boys’ sports over girls’ sports.

The decision was made in the 2007 case of Ollier v. Sweetwater Union High School, et al, and was prosecuted by the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center, California Women’s Law Center and Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP.

“I am disappointed because I think that the court really didn’t take into consideration all of the efforts that were made by the district to improve the facilities,” Shinoff said. “The issue became moot.”
The female student athletes who attended Castle Park High School sued for injunctive and declaratory relief under Title IX, which bars sex discrimination in education and athletic programs for present and future female student athletes.

District Superintendent Dr. Ed Brand released a statement last week in response to the ruling saying, “The standard for which girls’ sports facilities outlined in this ruling is not applicable to high school sports — it aligns with university-level sports.”

Since the case was filed, Brand said that the improvements at Castle Park have become the standard for softball field upgrades throughout the district.

Plaintiff’s attorney Erin Witkow said she’s “thrilled” with the judge’s ruling.

“They (the plaintiffs) fought very hard…” Witkow said. “I hope this case will serve as a wake-up call to the school district that equal treatment is a right and not a luxury.”

Witkow said the victory has a big impact (in case law) because it’s one of the few cases that found Title IX violations in a high school setting.

The trial, which Witkow said is the first of its kind, occurred in 2010 after Lorenz issued a partial summary judgment for the plaintiffs a year before, ruling against the district for unequal treatment and benefits and retaliation.

“It’s a complicated issue because a lot of time high school students don’t have the ability to bring these types of cases and that a lot of times, high schools think they can get away with this … but Title IX applies across the board with all levels of education,” Witkow said.

California Women’s Law Center Legal Director Vicky Barker said the district needs to realize they should comply with Title IX on their own, without others getting involved.

The judge ordered the plaintiffs to come back in 45 days with a proposed plan to remedy the injunction.

Thirty-two-year Sweetwater district softball and wrestling coach Tim Tyler said he is unhappy with the ruling.

“I’m a Title IX advocate,” Tim Tyler said. “But I fully disagree that the district has ever prevented a female from going out for a sports team.”
Tyler has daughters who play sports.

“We at Sweetwater have always given girls and boys equal sports participation,” he said.

Hilltop High School Athletic Director Nancy Acerrio, who said she is pleased with the ruling, also said it’s the district’s responsibility to maintain the fields.

“It’s (the ruling) an eye-opener for the community,” Acerrio said. “I’m glad this was brought to the attention of the district and the public. It’s been long overdue and many people will benefit from it.”

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ninth Circuit says Sweetwater fired coach for demanding equal treatment of girls

Sweetwater board members got in trouble for having dinner with contractors, but who's going to hold them accountable for firing a coach because he demanded that the law be obeyed?

Monday, September 22, 2014

     (CN) - A San Diego high school must face claims that it fired the softball coach for demanding equal treatment in the girls' sports program, the 9th Circuit ruled Friday.
     The ruling stems from a 2007 class action filed by five girls on the softball team at Castle Park High School in Chula Vista. Among other things, the girls contended that Sweetwater Union High School District discouraged girls from participating in athletics by giving boys more opportunities to play sports; gave boys better practice facilities, locker rooms and equipment; publicizing boys' events more than girls' events; and giving boys' sports programs more funding.
     They also claimed the school district fired Chris Martinez, the girls' softball coach, after two of the girls' parents filed complaints under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits sexual discrimination in education.
     U.S. District Judge M. James Lorenz concluded      in February 2012 after a 10-day bench trial that Sweetwater had discriminated against female athletes and had retaliated against Coach Martinez in violation of Title IX.
     A three-judge panel with the 9th Circuit affirmed Friday.
     Sweetwater had claimed in its defense that the discrepancy between female and male participation in Castle Park athletics correlated to the school's lower female enrollment generally. It also said that girls' participation in sports was on the rise, but that Castle Park girls were not interested enough in certain sports to merit permanent teams.
     In siding with the girls Friday, the 9th Circuit highlighted that the disparity between girls' enrollment at Castle Park and girls' participation in sports was never less than 6.7 percent, and was often as high as 13 percent.
     As such, 47 girls could have played sports if opportunities were available to them, according to the ruling.
     Since Sweetwater could not explain why 47 girls were not enough to maintain at least one competitive team, its defense fails, the court found.
     Equal proportionality also would not help Sweetwater pass Title IX's "effective accommodation" test because it lacks a steady history of expanding girls' sports programs at Castle Park, the court found.
     In fact, it cut the girls' field hockey team twice despite active interest in the sport and enough athletes to sustain a team, the ruling states.
     Sweetwater also failed to show that testimony from two of its expert witnesses - retired superintendant Peter Schiff and assistant principal Penny Parker - had been improperly excluded. Neither could support their opinions with clear, reliable methodology, according to the ruling.
     "Schiff and Parker based their proposed testimony on superficial inspections of the Castle Park facilities," Judge Ronald Gould wrote for the court. "Even if a visual walkthrough, without more, could be enough in some cases to render expert testimony admissible under Rule 702, it certainly does not compel that conclusion in all cases. Moreover, as the district court found, Schiff and Parker's conclusions were based on their 'personal opinions and speculation rather than on a systematic assessment of [Castle Park's] athletic facilities and programs.' But personal opinion testimony is inadmissible as a matter of law under Rule 702, and speculative testimony is inherently unreliable." (Emphasis and brackets in original.)
     As for the exclusion of 38 Sweetwater witnesses, the court found that Sweetwater improperly waited 15 months after the conclusion of discovery to disclose them.
     "The theory of disclosure under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is to encourage parties to try cases on the merits, not by surprise, and not by ambush," Gould wrote.
     "That another witness has made a passing reference in a deposition to a person with knowledge or responsibilities who could conceivably be a witness does not satisfy a party's disclosure obligations," he added. "An adverse party should not have to guess which undisclosed witnesses may be called to testify."
     It was neither justifiable nor harmless to spring a long list of new witnesses on the plaintiffs a mere eight months before trial, and the District Court did not abuse its discretion by excluding them, the ruling states.
     Pointing to the trial court's finding, after reviewing some contemporaneous evidence, that improvements to the softball facilities were still inadequate, the appellate court said Sweetwater could not show an abuse of discretion.
     In light of the "systematic problem of gender inequality" still present in Castle Park's sports programs, "an injunction based on past harm" was reasonable, Gould wrote. Sweetwater likewise could not show that the students did not have standing to bring Title IX retaliation claims for its firing of Coach Martinez.
     This argument "misunderstands plaintiffs' claim, which asserts that Sweetwater impermissibly retaliated against them by firing Coach Martinez in response to Title IX complaints he made on [their] behalf," Gould wrote (emphasis in original).
     After firing Martinez, Sweetwater took away the team's assistant coaches, canceled their awards banquet and "forbade them from participating in a Las Vegas tournament attended by college recruiters," injuries that affirm the girls' standing, the ruling states.
     The timing of when the girls complained about sex discrimination, Coach Martinez's firing and the canceling of the awards banquet is enough to show requisite causation, the ruling also states.

     Moreover, Sweetwater's "shifting, inconsistent reasons" for firing Coach Martinez imply that the reasons it gave for firing him - including that he allegedly allowed an ineligible student to play and that it wanted to replace him with an on-site coach - were pretextual, and the district court correctly identified them as such, the court found.

     "We reject Sweetwater's attempt to relitigate the merits of its case," the ruling states. "Title IX helps level the playing field for female athletes. In implementing this important principle, the district court committed no error." [p. 46 last graf]
     Paul Carelli IV with Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff & Holtz of San Diego argued the case for the school district.
     Elizabeth Kristen with Legal Aid Society Employment Law Center of San Francisco represented the plaintiffs, and Department of Justice attorney Erin H. Flynn, Fatima Goss Graves with the National Women's Law Center in Washington, D.C. and Kristen Galles with Equity Legal filed amicus curiae briefs in support of the plaintiffs.
     Judge N.R. Smith and Chief U.S. District Judge Morrison England, sitting by designation from Sacramento, concurred. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Study: Learning a musical instrument boosts language, reading skills

Study: Learning a musical instrument boosts language, reading skills

August 9, 2014
PBS

Learning to sing or play a musical instrument can improve language and reading skills of disadvantaged children, according to a new study released Friday.
Nina Kraus, PhD, a neurobiologist at Northwestern University, found that musical training has an impact in strengthening neural functions as well as a connection with sound and reading of children in impoverished areas.
Her previous research focused on the impact of music lessons on children of the middle or upper class. This study, which is being presented to the American Psychological Association, included hundreds of students in Los Angeles and Chicago public schools with about 50 percent dropout rates.
“Research has shown that there are differences in the brains of children raised in impoverished environments that affect their ability to learn,” Kraus said in a press release from the APA. “While more affluent students do better in school than children from lower income backgrounds, we are finding that musical training can alter the nervous system to create a better learner and help offset this academic gap.”
In the study, half the subjects received regular group music lessons for five or more hours a week, while the other half had no musical training.
According to researchers, the reading skills of children with formal music training remained the same over a year long period, while the other students’ reading scores declined.
Another group of students, part of the Harmony Project, a music program for inner city kids, took part in band or choir practice every day after schools.
After two years, researchers found that students with musical training were faster and more precise in hearing speech in background noise, which Kraus connects to students having the ability to concentrate on a teacher’s voice in a noisy classroom.
Children in both groups had comparable IQs and reading ability at the start of the study.
Kraus conducted the study with Margaret Martin, founder of The Harmony Project, who was featured on the PBS NewsHour earlier this year talking about the benefits of musical training on young brains. .

“We’re spending millions of dollars on drugs to help kids focus and here we have a non-pharmacologic intervention that thousands of disadvantaged kids devote themselves to in their non-school hours — that works,” Martin said...

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Net Neutrality: Why You Should Fear The Tier

Net Neutrality: Why You Should Fear The Tier
Christopher Stark
Information Week
9/18/2014

The end of Net neutrality would hobble today's businesses, increase costs for customers, and stifle the potential for future innovation.

Scientists tell us not to worry about ebola in Africa, yet many Americans are panicking. Many technologists warn that the FCC's Net neutrality ruling could be detrimental to our lives, yet -- aside from one comic's directive that briefly overwhelmed the FCC website -- Americans are largely blasé. We seem to have a tendency to blow the benign out of proportion while viewing catastrophic forecasts skeptically, even when it's in our best interest to heed the warnings.

So let me be clear: It's not just large technology companies that will suffer from the proposed "fast-lane" Internet, but every single person using the Internet -- for work or leisure, on a computer or a mobile device.

With a fast-lane option, Internet service providers (ISPs) are incentivized to throttle Internet speeds and then demand more fees for uninterrupted access. Fast lanes create opportunities for manipulation that will serve only those with the deepest pockets. It is a policy that is intentionally worded for ultimate confusion...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Stanford's Jennifer Eberhardt wins MacArthur 'genius' grant

Stanford's Jennifer Eberhardt wins MacArthur 'genius' grant 
Sept. 16, 2014 

Jennifer Eberhardt is fascinated with objects. It may seem an incongruous fixation for a social psychologist, but it helped the Stanford University associate professor land a spot among the creative and academic elite Wednesday, when the MacArthur Foundation awarded her its "genius" fellowship.
Eberhardt, 49, was cited for her efforts to examine how subtle, ingrained racial biases influence not just how we view people, but the objects of our daily world — and how those perceptions skew institutions such as the criminal justice system. She has transferred that work from laboratories filled with brain-scanning machines to police precincts, where she has advised cops about the ways their own minds can lead them onto perilous ground.


"Most people know that African Americans are associated with crime and that they're stereotyped as criminal — in fact it's one of the strongest stereotypes of blacks in American society," Eberhardt said. "My work focuses on how that association might matter at different points in the criminal justice system and how this association can then affect us in surprising ways."

It matters because people can transfer associations from people to objects and places.


Eberhardt likes to use the example of the watch her late father, Harlan Eberhardt, gave her when his mother died. That watch had been her grandmother's prized possession. As she put it on her wrist, Jennifer Eberhardt was overwhelmed by the power of her own associations, now invested in the old timepiece. "I could see my grandmother alive again," she recalled in one of her lectures.

But the apparent ease with which the human mind shifts associations from people to objects and back can lead to trouble, Eberhardt's research has shown. White people who viewed fleeting images of black faces, for instance, were able to recognize the fuzzy outline of a gun more quickly than their peers who were exposed to white faces.

When Eberhardt reversed the experiment, the association between blacks and crime moved the other way. She subliminally exposed subjects to crime-related objects, followed by a longer-lasting screen showing a black face and a white face. Afterward, subjects were asked to quickly identify where a dot flashed on a blank screen. Their reactions were much quicker when the dot appeared on the side where the black face had been. The same held true when police officers took the test and saw crime-related words such as "capture" or "pursue" instead of images of weapons.

Eberhardt believes these free-flowing associations can infect the judicial system with bias. Her statistical studies have shown, for example, that having stereotypically black facial features correlates with tougher jury verdicts, longer prison terms, more death sentences and erroneous identifications by police.

Sometimes, her lessons come home. When her oldest son was in the first grade, he wondered whether blacks might have an invisible force field around them. After all, he told her, white people shied away when a black man came into the local Safeway.

The same son (she has three), now in high school, was pulled over recently in an affluent neighborhood for allegedly speeding on his bicycle. Eberhardt and her husband, Stanford law professor Ralph Richard Banks, have had to have "the talk" that African American parents routinely have with sons, about how interactions with police can quickly escalate to force, sometimes with deadly consequences...

Friday, September 12, 2014

Gandara released, consultant relationship dissolved…L Street property?

Busy week at Sweetwater school district
Gandara released, consultant relationship dissolved…L Street property?
By Susan Luzzaro
San Diego Reader
Sept. 6, 2014

On September 5, the U-T reported that former Sweetwater Union High School District superintendent Jesus Gandara was released from jail on August 26. Gandara was sentenced to seven months in the county jail on June 27 for felony conspiracy and accepting gifts of travel meals and event tickets in excess of $4000.

Additionally, the U-T reported that although Gandara was released from jail, he remains in custody in an undisclosed South Bay residence. Gandara will also “forfeit more than $65,000 in retirement benefits.”

In other Sweetwater news, on September 4, at a monthly board meeting, the district’s troubled land deals got some costly relief.

The district contracted with a consultant group, E2ManageTech, to entitle three pieces of district property for high-density development. The board voted on September 4 to dissolve the relationship and pay E2ManageTech $750,000.

The Reader queried the Sweetwater’s attorney, Randall Winet, via email, if this was a buy-out. Winet responded, “The District performed an analysis of their work performed and agreed to a payment commensurate with industry standard wages and the parties agreed to a mutual release.”

E2ManageTech was paid $82,500 for three consecutive years (2011, 2012 and 2013) to move the three district properties through design reviews, zone changes, environmental studies, and a general plan amendment.

To date, only one piece of property, located on Third Avenue, was entitled. When the property was put on the market for $7 million, there were no bids...

Rubio also indicated that the district would not solicit a new proposal for consultants until an independent analysis of the “asset property utilization plan” has been performed. The plan is the district’s proposal to dispose of district properties and purchase a new district office.

Also this week, on September 3, an announcement was sent out to all Sweetwater trustee candidates by the California Trust for Public Schools. The trust holds the title to the district’s L Street property in a complicated agreement that binds all the district’s “asset” properties together.

Because all five Sweetwater trustee seats are up for grabs in the November election, the trust will be holding an October candidate forum. Marc Litchman, the CEO of the trust, said in a September 4 interview that one of his goals in holding the forum is to acquaint the public with the trust’s soccer academy concept for the district’s L Street property...

[Maura Larkins' comment: It's sad that Mr. Lichtman is only interested in promoting democracy when he's involved in a real estate deal.]

To that end, he announced: “In conjunction with local, state, and national soccer organizations, the nonprofit California Trust for Public Schools is developing a proposal to build a state-of-the-art soccer training and development academy with conference facilities and a charter school on surplus property owned by the Sweetwater Union High School District in Chula Vista.”

The current asset utilization plan put forward by Sweetwater for the L Street property is the development of 869 residential mid-rise units.

Here's a look back at another story about Gandara from June 2014. I share the concern of some commenters that while a few scapegoats were prosecuted in the South Bay Indictments scandal, the underlying problems in San Diego County school districts continue to be ignored by the media and the justice system. Ed Brand's problems, for example, were not limited to South Bay. He had some unknown problems in San Marcos School Unified from which he resigned after only a year as superintendent.

Paula Meyer · University of California, San Diego
Well, these are the ones who got caught. We're not seeing the every-day mis-appropriation of funds and general incompetence within the administrative workings of the district. And, granted that Gándara was criminally corrupt and ineffective as at his job, a big question remains, and that is, Why, considering his past performance, was Ed Brand brought back to further degrade the district?

Gloria Smestad · Top Commenter · Creative Arts, San Francisco State University
Excellent question that many find themselves asking. It has been said that he already knew the playbook.

Jaime Mercado · San Diego State University
Gloria, Brand WROTE the playbook. When I was summoned to testify, I told the Court, the DA, and the Grand Jury that I ran for the SUHSD Board in 2004 to try to stop the corruption that was well underway. I had limited success when as Brand told the Grand Jury that I ran him out of the district. Unfortunately, the dark side proved to be too strong and they banded together and defeated me in the 2008 election. I tried to warn John McCann, Board President, about bringing back Brand. I prepared folders for him and the board regarding Brand's past actions, but he gave instructions not to distribute the folders. It appears that he and Cartmill had been planning to bring back Brand all along.

Matias Garcia
The new Sweetwater High cost $56 million and should have cost half of that. The bonds were in the range of $700 Million. The amount lost to this corruption, just at this one construction project, was in the tens of millions.