Friday, October 31, 2008

Another reason to vote for Russell Coronado: Patrick Judd's been showing signs of moving to another state

Update: Russell Coronado unseated Patrick Judd in the November 2008

Rumor has it that Patrick Judd is looking for a state job in North Carolina.

I guess Judd's not planning on cleaning up the messes he's made in Chula Vista Elementary School District, San Diego County Office of Education, Mountain Empire Unified School District, and the Accelerated Charter School in Los Angeles.

The decent thing would be for Judd to announce that he's planning to leave Chula Vista.


One suspects that he wants to win the election, then resign, preventing the voters of Chula Vista from choosing his successor. His pals on the CVESD board would instead appoint his replacement.

Court of Appeal says GCCCD defrauded David Agosto

Looking for Kristin Rossum "American Beauty" case? Click HERE.

Click here for lawsuit against Keenan & Associates et al. Also, see San Francisco School District v. Keenan & Associates.

The California Court of Appeal has ruled against Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College and in favor of David Agosto, who appealed the dismissal of his case by Judge Joan Lewis in San Diego Superior court.

Never one to accept a loss, Jack Sleeth says David Agosoto "owes us money."

Ironically, when the case went back to Superior Court after the above decision, Agosto was awarded back pay but denied reinstatement. If the District had filed appropriate papers the District would not have had to pony-up Agosto's back pay. It turns out that if there is no order for reinstatement, there should be no order for back pay.

The Court of Appeal said (in a separate decision from the one above):

"Nevertheless, because District did not file a cross-appeal challenging the trial court's writ of mandate directing District to pay Agosto back pay (for the period of July through November 2006), District cannot now challenge the trial court's error in awarding him back pay..."

Agosto made mistakes, too. Agosto's petition for writ of mandate was denied because he should have filed a complaint for damages instead.

By Chris Reed
San Diego Union-Tribune (blog)
July 30, 2008

I've badmouthed the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District for years for its power plays, contempt for ethical standards and atttempts to whitewash scandal. Now I have fresh evidence that district constituents should be ashamed of the people they've elected as leaders. In comes in the form of a sharply worded decision issued yesterday in which an appeals court reversed a Superior Court judge's decision to throw out a lawsuit in which a fired top official at Grossmont-Cuyamaca charges he was denied due process and essentially forced out with a legal dirty trick. The ruling remands the lawsuit back to the lower court and orders its reconsideration. David Jay Agosto was hired in 1995 as executive dean of community services at Cuyamaca College and went on to serve in a variety of big jobs. But in February 2006, while Agosto was on medical leave to cope with kidney disease, he was fired by the Grossmont-Cuyamaca board of directors in a closed-session meeting.

Agosto challenged this ruling, saying his original 1995 contract made him the beneficiary of job protections which required the board to give him notice of at least six months before the expiration of his contract. Here's where the dirty trick comes in: The argument that the GCCCD's lawyers used to persuade Superior Court Judge Joan M. Lewis to throw out Agosto's lawsuit was that the original 1995 contract had never taken legal effect because it was -- for reasons unknown -- never signed by the district's chancellor. It was kept on file, just never signed.

The district argued that contract was invalid under the "statute of frauds" -- a legal provision which requires hard, documented evidence of contracts that last more than a year to ensure that they are not fraudulently redefined at some later date by the employer or employee.

[Maura Larkins note: This is exactly what Chancellor Omero Suarez did: he ordered his contract changed without approval from the board.]

What a joke. The district operated for more than a decade as if the contract were in effect, then, when convenient, declared it null and void. The appeals court figured out this stunk to the high heavens even if Judge Lewis couldn't. Here's a sign of its disgust:The statute of frauds exists to prevent the commission of fraud, not to facilitate fraud.You follow? Judge James A. McIntyre is saying the fraud that's going on here is on the district's part! Wow. He's absolutely right.Now get ready for the members of the district board to blame its lawyers. It's what they do. Lots of rotten stuff happens on their watch, sure. But, you see, it's never their fault.Read the appellate decision here. The passage I cited is on page 5..

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bertha Lopez reveals some personnel records, hides others; Jaime Mercado opens his file at SUHSD

In 2002 I sued Chula Vista Elementary School District for violations of the labor code and other illegal actions, and Bertha Lopez and other trustees refused to produce my personnel file for the case.

What are she and the rest of the CVESD board hiding?

Is it something that's in the file, or, more likely, is it something that's missing from the file? Among the very few documents produced by CVESD were documents that were altered, pre-dated or post-dated. CVESD hid or destroyed other documents, and failed to create any paper trail at all on important occasions.

Bertha Lopez violated the law in a regular manner during her years as a CVESD board member.

Jaime Mercado, on the other hand, is clearly a person of decency who doesn't step on other people to get ahead. He cares enough about others to give a pay advance to an employee whose salary schedule included two months with no pay each year.

Former superintendent Ed Brand and Bertha Lopez are very much a part of the unethical and greedy inside circle that controls schools in San Diego County.

Here's today's SDUT article about Bertha's request to open personnel files:

Candidates open personnel files; 1 has reprimand
By Chris Moran
October 25, 2008

CHULA VISTA – Rivals in the race for a seat on the Sweetwater Union High School District board opened their personnel files to The San Diego Union-Tribune, revealing overwhelmingly positive evaluations of the 30-plus years each has spent as an educator in South County public schools.

The file of candidate Bertha Lopez, a National School District teacher, contains positive evaluations and no reprimands.

In addition to positive evaluations, incumbent Jaime Mercado's file contains a 2002 letter reprimanding him for using Associated Student Body money to make a loan to an employee. Mercado was principal of Palomar High School in Chula Vista at the time.

Then-Superintendent Ed Brand declined to suspend Mercado in part, he wrote, because “although your judgment was poor, your actions were not self-serving.”

Mercado said he authorized the loan because the employee faced two months without a paycheck because of a lag in the district's payroll system. Mercado said the employee told him that without the money, he would not be able to pay his rent.

The money was restored to the account a month later. Mercado said he used his own money to pay back the account and that the employee reimbursed him in installments.

In a letter of response to the reprimand, Mercado wrote at the time, “I was making up for a payroll system that has for years shamefully abused the basic right of employees to get paid in a timely manner.”

In an interview this week, Mercado called the reprimand letter retaliation by Brand.

[Blogger's note: Ed Brand has become famous for illegal retaliation. He was connected to widespread wrongdoing when he was superintendent of SUHSD, including the Mary Anne Weegar case, in which he retaliated against an administrator who complained that the law was not being followed by the district. He suddenly resigned from San Marcos Unified School District in August 2006. I'm not surprised to hear about more illegal retaliation by Ed Brand.

In the months before the letter was issued, another Sweetwater principal had filed a sexual-harassment claim against a high-level district administrator, and Mercado had agreed to make a declaration that the same administrator had mistreated him. The principal eventually filed a lawsuit alleging that she was wrongfully demoted in retaliation for the sexual-harassment complaint. The district paid $150,000 to settle the lawsuit.

Lopez asked the Union-Tribune to review the files after being asked about a petition dated April 21 signed by her co-workers at John Otis Elementary School. It states that Lopez “is not a team player, and in actuality she has worked assiduously at creating division and tension among staff members.”

Lopez transferred to another school in August, and her personnel file shows that she volunteered for the transfer. The petition and its allegations are not part of her file.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Shelia Jackson finds her voice

See all Shelia Jackson posts.

The post about Emily Alpert is HERE.

Shelia Jackson, board member of San Diego Unified School District, says things that need to be said. Why is she the only one?

And why did I think her name was Sheila? Sorry, Shelia, that I garbled your name. I always liked the name Sheila; maybe that had something to do with it. But I must say that Shelia is perfect. It takes a small step away from a European name, and the result is something that perhaps sounds even better, and more importantly gives an African-American woman her own identity. Your parents did a good job on naming their baby.

Jackson Settles in as Chief Dissident

School board member Shelia Jackson... is running for reelection against Xeng Yang, has become a firebrand whose statements have earned her both hostility and respect.

Oct. 23, 2008

School board member Shelia Jackson was disappointed when former Superintendent Carl Cohn threw in the towel at San Diego Unified last year. She blamed another board member for berating Cohn, praised the superintendent for gradual and cautious reforms, and stayed mum on the scandal that ejected one of his top appointees.

"You can't have someone who is constantly undermining your authority at every turn," Jackson said last September. "And that's what some board members have done."

Now Jackson is being accused of -- and praised for -- doing the same. Under a new superintendent, Terry Grier, Jackson has become a firebrand whose bold statements have earned her both hostility and respect. Her voting record has long pitted Jackson against her peers on teacher layoffs and spending equity across the school district, but her role has shifted under Grier, a newcomer who has quickly made waves with new projects and made enemies in the teachers union. Now, Jackson has become the school board's chief dissident.

"We're not elected to support the superintendent," Jackson said in an October interview. "We're elected to hold him accountable."

[Blogger's note: YES!!!!!]

Her opponent in the coming election, Xeng Yang, complains that she criticizes Grier in public; Jackson fought a policy that would bar her and other trustees from publicly criticizing the superintendent and his staff, something she rarely did to Cohn. She called for an investigation of Grier and fellow board member Katherine Nakamura after a campaign meeting with principals became a political hot potato; she has hinted publicly that other board members should be ousted in the coming elections.

Yang argues that his opponent is beholden to the teachers union. "I don't think she wants to keep the superintendent. She goes along with the teachers. She was elected by the people to represent students, not a group of adult teachers," he said, adding, "She seems like she doesn't get along with other school board members."

[Blogger's note: And whom does the majority of board members represent? Developers, self-serving politicians, and insurance companies? Insurance is a multi-million dollar industry in many local school districts, and these companies wield power through their lawyers, paid by taxpayers to instruct and direct board members. Insurance companies do not care about kids. I have problems with the teachers union, too, but I think the union is needed to keep a balance in decision making.]

The race between Yang and Jackson has been quiet compared to other contests. Yang, a computer teacher, has fumbled in public forums and netted only a few endorsements, most notably from the county Republican Party and the conservative-leaning Lincoln Club...

[Blogger's note: It seems that Voice of San Diego has also found its voice. Reporter Emily Alpert finds the story behind the story, revealing schools as hotbeds of political intrigue and financial and legal shenanigans. For far too long, school officials were able to keep the truth about themselves hidden, hiding behind a sea of smiling children whom they pretended to care about.]

Patrick Judd exposed? Russell Coronado's election should be a slam-dunk.

Several months ago I became aware of a rumor that former Mountain Empire School District superintendent Patrick Judd had been accused of sexual harrassment, but I didn't print it because it was simply a rumor. Judd went on some mysterious kind of leave early in 2008 and never went back to work; instead, he retired after several months of unexplained absence.

One Mountain Empire board member, apparently someone trying to cover for Judd, said that he was on sick leave.


Judd said it wasn't sick leave, but he wouldn't say what it was. Yet Judd had the nerve to run for re-election as trustee of Chula Vista Elementary School District, apparently on a platform of silence. This much is clear: Judd does not believe in openness or honesty.

And neither does Lowell Billings, superintendent of CVESD.

Lowell Billings (photo at left) is Judd's employee in CVESD. But the reverse relationship holds true at The Accelerated School (TAS) in Los Angeles, where Billings is on the board. Apparently Billings felt sympathy for Judd, or political obligation to Judd, and hired Judd as a consultant at the Accelerated (Charter) School.

Recently I read a letter written to the San Diego Union Tribune. It said in part:

"...Every educator in Mt Empire and the entire east county seems to be aware that the former Superintendent (P. J.) did not go out on sick leave because of an illness, but rather because of the same type of claim that Mr. Sandoval, Mr. Lopez and Mr. Poveda would be familiar with, he was not sick rather he was in hot water. You should ask some questions in Mt. Empire and perhaps request a copy of the claim..."

I am inclined to differentiate between true sexual harrassment, the abuse or exploitation of a human being, and the less serious problem of enthusiastic admiration of an attractive individual, which is sometimes inappropriately labeled.


Patrick Judd has a history of abuse of and contempt for women. One example is the Danielle Cozaihr case. Last December CVESD was ordered to pay $1 million for Lowell Billings' and Patrick Judd's actions against a young teacher who made the mistake of having a baby at a program improvement school.

Another example of Judd's misplaced loyalties is the Fred Kamper case.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Jeremiah Lasater case: do school lawyers protect bullies?

Another school shooting: a boy takes his own life in Acton, California after years of bullying.

Here in San Diego, Daniel Shinoff refused the request of the Santana shooting victim's families to have a conference on violence. Instead, he denied that the shooter had been bullied. Two-and-a-half years later, a boy at the school was brutalized by two students whom he had reported for hazing. They and the football coach were angry that the guilty parties had been suspended. The football coach set up a situation where the guilty parties could physically retaliate during football practice. Daniel Shinoff defended the coach.

What are the chances that schools will punish coaches who bully? Slim. Kids will continue to see bullying modeled by adults in schools.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Exactly who are these ASPEN Group International folks that Terry Grier brought in to silence SDUSD board members?

SDUSD superintendent Terry Grier (photo) brought in consultants to design a gag rule for board members.

I looked up Aspen Group International and found this:

ASPEN Group International Inc. and American Association of School Administrators present:

"A timely seminar for superintendents who want to lead"

From School Administrator
June 2003

"...This conference will help you, as the district's CEO, and your board work together to form an authentic and respectful relationship characterized by a true trusteeship focused on increasing community support for and understanding of district efforts..


* If your school board members exercised collective self discipline to stay out of interpersonal game-playing, political intrigues and micromanagement?

[Blogger's note: Wonderful! Only administrators--not board members --would be involved in interpersonal game-playing and political intrigues.]

* ...If you could make administrative and operational decisions without seeking approval or being second-guessed and reversed by your board?

[How can voters and parents have any input at all, if board members are not accountable for administrative and operational decisions?]

* If your school board were focused more on student achievement and creating community support and less on operational "stuff"?

[Wait a minute. Isn't "operational stuff" precisely how student achievement is attained? What exactly would the board members focus on?]

...What a utopia! But in your lifetime?

As a matter of fact, YES!

[Public schools are NOT utopias designed for the comfort of the superintendent. They are public entities, and those who operate them must be open and accountable to voters. Conflicts should be resolved by discussion, not gagging board members and keeping voters out of the loop.]

"Many school boards and their CEOs already are experiencing all these benefits of Policy Governance[R], the governing model created by John Carver that has proven to be practical and successful in the public education world by helping superintendents and school board members understand their real roles and how to effectively execute them.

[Since when are board members merely cheerleaders for superintendents? They are bosses, not boosters!}

"This AASA/Aspen Group conference is your opportunity to learn more about Policy Governance[R], how it is being used by superintendents across the nation, and how it can produce results to match its promise in your district. Log on to or for details about Policy Governance[R] and this important conference.

"$400 for AASA members, $450 for non-members"

[Blogger's note: I agree with the commenter who said these shenanigans are a good reason to vote for John Lee Evans instead of Mitz Lee.]

The Accelerated Charter School Tries to Silence Parents

Photo: Patrick Judd, recently hired consultant for TAS

Some of the best information can be found in the comments section of news articles. Here's a recent comment that was added to this post:

"Parents are now being threatened by current administration which includes Patrick Judd, Sandra Phillips, Sergio Sanchez and Co-founders of The Accelerated School, not to say negative things about the school because we are in the process of renewing our charter.

"If we continue to voice our concerns we will lose our charter. What? I don't think so, they can't threaten us, they should've thought about that before they hired these incompetent nitwits.

"Our current K – 6 Principal Sandra Phillips doesn’t even posses a California state teaching or administrator credentials. Their response to this is “Charter schools don’t require administrators to be credentialed”. This is a JOKE! How is she supposed to provide any guidance or support to our teachers when she isn’t qualified to do so? This is why the students are failing. Parents like me didn’t know that this was the case until we began questioning and investigating her background. We parents were under the impression that Sandra Phillips was credentialed. As of today we discovered that one of the Co-Directors and Sandra Phillips are in a relationship? Now the plot thickens???

"Then they hire Patrick Judd without informing parents of his baggage and he is suppose to be helping the school clean up their act or as I believe remove anyone who speaks out against them. This is all a big fat joke and our children and community are suffering the repercussions of their continued mistakes."

[Maura Larkins' note: A lot of people think that freedom of speech is protected by our Constitution because it is morally right. That's not the reason. The reason is that freedom of thought leads to economic development, to financial advancement for the whole country. Why are people in power afraid of it? Because they fear that the march to the future will pass them by. They are protecting their own careers and finances. Patrick Judd and Lowell Billings are ensconced firmly in the divine-right-of-kings era, and I suspect that's exactly why they were chosen by the TAS board.

The Accelerated School would do well to encourage open discussion among teachers and parents. They should ask Patrick Lencioni to come and help them overcome their dysfunction.

Note that "Fear of Conflict" is one of the five dysfunctions. Judd and Billings are terrified of conflict. They don't know how to sit down and talk openly and honestly about problems--I doubt that they even talk openly with each other.]

Photo below: TAS board member Lowell Billings. (Not Dick Cheney, though some have noted a growing resemblance.)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Bertha Lopez sows strife at Otis Elementary in National City School District

The San Diego Union Tribune has supported Bertha Lopez in recent editorials, and has covered up her wrongdoing in the past, so the editors deserve a nod of appreciation for allowing this story to be published. Perhaps one day Don Sevrens will break down and allow Chris Moran to write the full story of Castle Park Elementary.

Candidate ripped in letter signed by teachers
By Chris Moran
October 18, 2008

CHULA VISTA – Teacher Bertha Lopez, who's running for Sweetwater Union High School District board, switched schools this summer after a majority of teachers at her old campus signed a letter accusing her of creating division and tension among the staff.

Lopez said she asked to transfer from John A. Otis Elementary to Rancho De La NaciĆ³n Elementary, both in National City, for personal and professional reasons...

Lopez is president of the Chula Vista Elementary School District board and said she is running for the Sweetwater post now that her son is in middle school.

In April, 18 teachers on a staff of about 25 at Otis signed a letter addressed to National School District board members criticizing Lopez. The San Diego Union-Tribune obtained the letter through a public records request after being told about it through an anonymous tip.

The two-page letter from Otis teachers says of Lopez: “She is not a team player, and in actuality she has worked assiduously at creating division and tension among staff members.”

The letter also says: “A great majority of the staff have lost all confidence in Ms. Lopez as an effective language arts specialist for our school. She has continually fostered a negative environment.”

[Blogger's note: Why is Bertha Lopez running for the Sweetwater board? One reason may be to kill two birds with one stone: to expand the power of what I call the "Judd group" into SUHSD while maintaining her CVESD seat in the hands of the same group. CVESD has a habit of appointing board members when a trustee leaves. This is how Larry Cunningham and David Bejarano got their positions on the board.]

Would you work with a man who designed a prize-winning school program?

Bill Ayers is an educator.

Professor Ayers was one of nine winning project designers in the very mainstream $50 million Annenberg Challenge program for Chicago Schools.

Barack Obama was the chairman of the Annenberg Challenge. It would have been counterproductive and unprofessional of him to refuse to work with Professor Ayers, even though William Ayers had been a radical thirty years earlier.

’90s Annenberg Reform Push an Issue in Presidential Race
By Dakarai I. Aarons

The Chicago Annenberg Challenge , chaired from 1995 to 1999 by Barack Obama, is being portrayed by John McCain’s campaign as an attempt to push radicalism on schools.

The project undertaken in Chicago as part of a high-profile national initiative reflected, however, mainstream thinking among education reformers. The Annenberg Foundation’s $49.2 million grant in the city focused on three priorities: encouraging collaboration among teachers and better professional development; reducing the isolation between schools and between schools and their communities; and reducing school size to improve learning.

The other eight urban projects that received money from the foundation under the Annenberg Challenge initiative, launched in 1993 by the philanthropist Walter H....

Parents want Patrick Judd out

I write about a lot of schools and a lot of school board members, but Patrick Judd manages to get the lion's share of attention from readers. I think "Patrick Judd" is the most frequent search term that brings visitors to my website (with Bertha Lopez in second place).

Judd was eased out of Mountain Empire School District this year, but his pal Lowell Billings seems to have helped him ease into a position at Accelerated Charter School in Los Angeles.

Both teachers and parents are unhappy with Judd's performance at his new school. I wish them the best.

Perhaps both Chula Vista Elementary School District and Accelerated Charter School will be able to get rid of Judd this year. CVESD, where Judd is a trustee, has an election coming up, and he's facing a highly qualified and well-liked challenger in Russell Coronado.

Charter Schools are coming under closer scrutiny since so many abuses have been found. Parents might want to ask to look at the budgets and the salaries of employees and consultants.

Below are comments that were added to this post.

Anonymous said...
OMG! I‘m a parent of The Accelerated School and I just discovered Patrick Judd’s background and trail of destruction. We parents of The Accelerated School are extremely upset and we will not tolerate the lies. We want Patrick Judd and our elementary school Principal Sandra Phillips out. There is no room for this at our school especially when we are in program improvement year 3.

8:08 PM

Anonymous said...
We need help to get rid of Patrick Judd from The Accelerated School!

8:10 PM

Friday, October 17, 2008

What happened at Vista Unifed School District on October 16, 2008?

David Hubbard (center) of Vista Unified School District

The story below misses a Brown Act violation that occurred on Thursday evening at the VUSD board meeting when Silvia Peters tried to speak about student expulsions.

Ms. Peters writes:

"When Chairman Gibson called my name to the podium, I began to
speak for about 60 seconds before Board Member David Hubbard
abruptly interrupted me. He asked what my comment had to do
with expulsion. I said, that I was commenting on expulsions.
Before Board Member Hubbard abruptly interrupted me, I had just read VUSD’S Board Policy No. 5013 “Suspension and Expulsions,” Section (3), which read: “It is the intent of the Board of Education that its policies and regulations be consistent with current law. Any part of this policy, which is not consistent with current law, shall be void.”

"I asked whether VUSD knew if Guajome Park Academy had
policies for expulsions?...If the policies were allied
with California law and If Guajome Park Academy had a
legitimate Expulsion Board?

"Board Member Hubbard asked what does this have to do with
Section “C.” and that Section C had to do with Readmission of
Students who have been expelled from other school districts?
Board Member Hubbard told me that I had pulled a card for
“Section C.”

"Board Member Hubbard said we have already ratified the item
and you cannot speak on it any more. President of the Board
Gibson agreed. They both insisted that I had pulled the card
for Section C.

"If in fact I had pulled the card for Section C then why would
the VUSD Board ratify Section D before Section C?..."

North County Times
VISTA: School board stays out of gay marriage debate
Trustees decide against taking a stance on Prop. 8
October 17, 2008

In a lively meeting that drew more than 100 people, the Vista Unified school board decided Thursday night to stay out of the debate over same-sex marriages.

By a 3-2 vote, school district trustees declined to take a position on Proposition 8, an initiative that would amend the state constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman.

Board President Jim Gibson asked trustees to pass a resolution in support of Prop. 8 and board member Stephen Guffanti joined him in backing the resolution. The rest of the panel said the board shouldn't take a position on any proposition.

Prop. 8 is one of the most politically charged measures on the Nov. 4 ballot. By Election Day, it's estimated that supporters of the gay-marriage ban will have spent more than $25 million on their campaign and opponents will have spent just as much.

Among the groups opposing the measure is the California Teachers Association, which has contributed about $1.3 million to help defeat the proposition...

In refusing to support the resolution, Trustee David Hubbard said that bringing such controversial issues before the board only further divides the community.

"The only outcome is that we're going to create hard feelings," he said.

The crowd who packed Temple Heights Elementary School for Thursday's meeting included more than a dozen people who spoke to the board on the issue. The speakers were split, with roughly half supporting Gibson's proposal and half opposing it.

Jacob Petty, a student at Rancho Buena Vista High School, presented the board with a petition he said more than 400 students at the school have signed, urging the board to not pass the resolution...

Most school boards across the state have stayed out of the debate over same-sex marriage, though trustees in East County's Grossmont Union High School District voted this summer to endorse the proposition.

Election drama again spilled over into the board room Thursday, with Guffanti and union officials trading jabs. Guffanti is running to keep the board seat he has held for the last eight years.

Representatives from both of the district's unions used part of their normal speaking time to criticize Guffanti and the two candidates running with him in the election for skipping a forum put on by the district's parent-teacher group Wednesday. They also accused Guffanti of not running an honest campaign.

"I have no respect whatsoever for any candidate whose campaign is based on unfounded smear tactics," Henrietta Black, president of the district's classified union, said about Guffanti. "This nonsense has to cease and desist."

Guffanti slammed parents and teachers at previous PTA forums, accusing them of being disrespectful. He also said he thinks most of the members already have their minds made up about how they're going to vote...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I wish SDCOE trustees would act like this

Nick Aguilar seems to be the only SDCOE trustee who believes in producing public records.

Sharon Jones seems to think it's just fine that Diane Crosier covers up financial documents regarding Daniel Shinoff and Stutz, Artiano Shinoff & Holtz.

Why don't SDCOE trustees act like SEDC trustees?

Maybe it's because the media isn't covering SDCOE. How about it, Voice of San Diego?

Voice of San Diego
Petty Watch, Update 7

Day 10 of Petty Watch and still nothing from the Southeastern Economic Development Corp.'s Corporate Counsel Regina Petty, who is still stonewalling me. But members of SEDC's Board of Directors aren't happy that I haven't received the records I asked for more than a month ago.

I just called Petty's office and the woman who answered said neither Petty nor her assistant was available. I asked if either was in the office.

"They're just not taking your calls," the woman said. I left a message.

Over the last couple of days, I've spoken with three of the board members, Cruz Gonzalez, Rich Geisler and Gina Champion-Cain, and asked them what they think of Petty's continued refusal to speak to me, or to provide her SEDC invoices, records she must, by law, make available for public scrutiny.

They all want Petty to respond to my records request, which has been pending since early last month.

"I'd like to see her reply with the request as soon as possible and give you what you need," Geisler said. "We need to turn the page on SEDC not responding to people."

"I'll call Regina right now," Gonzalez told me last night.

"We'll get you the records you need," Champion-Cain told me.

SEDC is having a special board meeting tomorrow night. Petty is normally at those meetings. Champion-Cain told me she plans to raise the issue of the records at the meeting.

October 15, 2008

Shelia Jackson says Katherine Nakamura and Terry Grier played politics

See all Shelia Jackson posts.

School Trustee Calls to Investigate Peer
Voice of San Diego

...Last night, board member Shelia Jackson publicly requested an independent investigation of a campaign meeting called by school board president Katherine Nakamura and Superintendent Terry Grier to inform principals of volunteer opportunities for Proposition S, the $2.1 billion facilities bond slated for the November ballot. E-mails about the meeting from supervisors told principals either "please attend" or that the meeting was mandatory.

Bond opponent John Stump later argued that the meeting, held at no charge at the Girl Scouts Headquarters in Balboa Park, violated a city policy that prohibits city-subsidized facilities to be used for political activities.

Jackson said Nakamura might have violated another section of the governance policies that requires trustees to serve the interests of the school district above other advocacy or interest groups, and that Grier might have failed to prevent an activity that "endangers the organization’s public image or credibility," in violation of another policy.

Jackson’s request follows a public kerfuffle over a back-to-school conference championed by Jackson. The conference did not have board approval, but Jackson had used a district procurement card to buy supplies for the event. She later reimbursed San Diego Unified. Grier had requested an investigation of the expenditures, but didn't announce it publicly.

October 15, 2008

Free speech now allowed by San Diego Unified board members

I'm wondering if the odd and short-lived plan to silence dissent was concocted by recently-hired SDUSD bigwigs Mark Bresee (chief counsel) and Terry Grier (superintendent). I know Mark Bresee is opposed to openness and honesty on school boards. I now suspect that Mark Bresee's hiring was done at the behest of Terry Grier, who apparently is in sync with Mr. Bresee on this issue. The two of them are apparently fans of Aspen Group International, LLC, which provided the consultants who "helped" the board write the rule.

School Board Reverses Public-Criticism Rule
Voice of San Diego

The San Diego Unified school board voted tonight to abolish a policy that barred its members from publicly making negative comments about their superintendent and staff after the policy received heavy criticism. The board also removed a policy that dissuades them from undermining board decisions when speaking publicly.

One member of the public, League of Women Voters of San Diego Co-President Norma Damashek, said tonight that the policies "short-circuit transparency and accountability in public meetings" and "deprive us of the opportunity to hear the views of our public representatives." The rule was earlier criticized by attorneys from the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and the statewide open government group Californians Aware...

School board member Luis Acle was the only member to vote against removing the rule.

October 14, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

SIAtech gets charter schools association to say it's doing a good job

I wonder if the California Charter Schools Association operates like the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, demanding that trustees cover up financial abuses.

Charter school gets certified by trade group
San Diego Union Tribune
October 14, 2008

IMPERIAL BEACH: A charter school in Imperial Beach is one of the first in the county that has been certified by a trade association for its academics, finances and operations.

The local campus of the School for Integrated Academics and Technologies operates at the San Diego Job Corps Center. Like the other seven SIATech campuses in California, it typically serves dropouts from ages 16 to 24. The headquarters for the network of schools is in Vista.

Charter schools are publicly funded schools but are run by their own boards of directors and are free from many state regulations in exchange for delivering academic results promised in their founding document, or charter.

The California Charter Schools Association began certifying schools last year. It dispatches educators to review a charter school's academics and finances before granting certification.

SIATech is the ninth charter school in the county to receive certification.

San Diego County has about 70 charter schools. –C.M.
Chris Moran


Vista Charter School Gets the Nod
October 7, 2008

Vista-based academy is the 9th charter school in San Diego County to be dubbed a Certified Charter School by the California Charter Schools Association, going through a wringer that includes an external review and reports, according to CCSA spokesman Gary Larson.

School of Integrated Academics and Technologies has multiple campuses across California and nationwide that use computerized learning to help youth who feel disconnected from school earn their degrees. It joins five other schools in North County and three in San Diego Unified that have earned the nod from the California Charter School Association, Larson said.

Getting the nod is especially sweet for SIATech, which got a lot of unwanted attention earlier this year for having the highest dropout rate in California, according to a study by the California Dropout Research Project. Spokeswoman Linda Leigh told me in February that the study failed to recognize that SIATech is a dropout recovery program:

"We're not an average high school," Leigh said. "We're a dropout recovery program. Traditional schools have failed the students who come to us. ... It's not a surprise that our dropout rate is higher than the traditional high school."

The report cited a 165.2 percent dropout rate for SIATech -- a figure that is possible because enrollment is only counted once, but dropouts are counted all year. Therefore, if students enroll midyear, then quit, they count as dropouts, but don't count towards enrollment...


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (read "Carolyn Batiste") tells minority trustees to "suck it up"

The San Diego Union Tribune reports today that "Barbara Beno, president of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, held a special training session for trustees of the Oceanside-based community college on the roles and responsibilities of the board and college president."

Ms. Beno made it clear that a president of an institution must NOT be held accountable by minority trustees if the majority trustees approve of the president's actions--even if those actions include using $2 million in taxpayer dollars to attack her opponents on the faculty and in the administration.

Ms. Beno had earlier warned MiraCosta "that its accreditation could be in jeopardy because...strife among trustees was negatively affecting the campus."

That's a pretty subjective determination, Ms. Beno. I think strife among trustees is very healthy, and has helped expose a corrupt system that benefits lawyers and insurance companies at the expense of taxpayers. But my guess is that this system is precisely what Ms. Beno wants to protect.

What do you get out of this, Ms. Beno?

Why do you want to keep $2 million investigations secret from the taxpayers who pay for them?

"[Speaking openly about issues that have been voted on]... doesn't help the college move on,” Beno said.

Clearly Beno means that it doesn't help the college stand still. It could result in changes. It could result in majority trustees losing elections. And that's what Beno doesn't want.

But wait. Are Beno and the majority trustees allowed to use public institutions and public money to control voters?

Clearly not. It's a clear misuse of public funds and abuse of public officials' power. Carolyn Batiste should be ashamed of herself. She has abused her power long enough.

Thank goodness candidate George McNeil is running to replace her.

The SDUT article continues, "Trustee Judy Strattan said if millions of dollars are being spent in a way she believes is irresponsible, she doesn't know if she can just let the matter drop. She referred to more than $2 million spent on the palm tree investigation, ensuing legal fees and related costs, which included a $1.6 million settlement agreement with [Victoria] Richart when she resigned."

Thank you, Judy. MiraCosta needs more trustees like you and Jacqueline Simon and Gloria Carranza and candidate George McNeil.

Beno's message for minority trustees is to "suck it up." This sounds like good advice for Ms. Beno to apply to herself. Just grit your teeth, Barbara, and count to 10. You can survive this. It's called open government, and it's an absolute requirement in a democracy.

Court of Appeal decision protecting gay students in Poway Unified School District

A 70-page decision has been issued by California's 4th District Court of Appeal upholding the $300,000 jury award won by Joseph "Joey" Ramelli and Megan Donovan three years ago.

The North County Times reports that the students "sued the school district for "deliberate indifference" to harassment, which for Ramelli included getting beaten up and having his car vandalized.

"'I am blown away," Ramelli, 22, said in a phone call from his Santa Cruz home Friday. "For the first time in seven years, I can breathe easy. All the pain, sleepless nights, the time in court ---- it was all worth it...This has nothing to do with money. This has to do with protections for kids...'

"Ramelli said the situation was so bad, he had little choice but to turn to home-schooling. Donovan, who also received threats of violence, also opted for home-schooling.

"...The three-judge panel unanimously found that the jury had enough evidence to conclude that Poway school officials showed "deliberate indifference" when the two students complained about the harassment..."


Apparently not.

A lawyer for Poway, paid for by San Diego County Office of education, says he  "disappointed" with the results.

It's hard to know how much he and his law firm collected from taxpayers. The San Diego County Office of Education--Joint Powers Authority is not forthcoming with public records showing how much the firm is paid. Director Diane Crosier thinks the California Public Records Act gives her arbitrary authority to hide law firm bills.

In addition, thanks to PUHSD'S decision to appeal, taxpayers must now pay more than $420,000 for the students' attorney fees. My guess that this amount is considerably less than what the district paid to its own lawyers, BUT THE DISTRICT SHOULD HAVE APOLOGIZED INSTEAD OF APPEALING, saving around a million taxpayer dollars.

Attorney Jeffery Morris defends the district, saying that the school has been "very aggressive" in training employees to address harassment."

O. J. Simpson doesn't like his court decision; Dan Shinoff is also miffed--about Poway Unified School District decision

O. J. Simpson is also unhappy with his court decision. The Associated Press reports, "A week after O.J. Simpson was convicted on armed robbery and kidnapping charges in Las Vegas, lawyers for the former football star on Friday filed a motion for a new trial in the case. They say he was denied a fair hearing when two African-Americans were dismissed from the potential jury pool."

In another case, three San Diego lawyers, Daniel Shinoff, Jeffery A. Morris, and Paul Carelli are unhappy about a California Court of Appeal decision that holds Poway Unified School District reponsible for extreme and unrelenting harrassment of students.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Mary Kay Rosinski notes GCCCD's Daniel Shinoff problems

The San Diego Union Tribune has a policy of forbidding its reporters to tell the full truth about abuses at local educational institutions, but once in a while reporters are able to slip in a little piece of the truth.

For example, we learn today that Mary Kay Rosinski, a candidate for Grossmont Cuyamaca Community College District, is "concerned the district spends too much money on legal fees, including defending the firing of a science teacher at Grossmont College. A Superior Court judge recently reversed the firing."

I agree with Rosinski about this. Attorney Daniel Shinoff encourages abusive administrators to engage in illegal actions all over San Diego County, but GCCCD seems to be a particular hot spot of illegal and abusive activity.

What Rosinski doesn't mention is that her own union, California Teachers Association, has worked closely with Daniel Shinoff to cover up illegal actions. In Chula Vista Elementary School District, a local union president committed illegal acts in her effort to get re-elected. She was helped by her close associate, the human resources director Richard Werlin. An innocent teacher was maliciously harrassed because teachers and administrators feared she would expose the truth, and California Teachers Association lawyers helped to retaliate illegally against the teacher.

The San Diego Union states, "[Rosinski] said she's concerned about students questioning the integrity of the district. 'My motivation is to make the board a better group of trustees,' she said."

Rosinski does not seem to be concerned about students questioning the integrity of teachers and the teachers union. If she is only worried about the opposition's integrity, then isn't it really just politics, not ethics, that she is practicing?

Still, in GCCCD, it's the administration, not the faculty, that has violated the most laws, so Rosinski would probably be the best choice to balance the board and benefit students.

Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District – Seat 1
October 18, 2006


Age: 50

Elective offices held: None.

Community involvement: Awarded three proposals to have AmeriCorps Teams provide academic support to students. Involved in the California Teachers Association, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and the American Association of University Women.

College or post-high-school training: SDSU, master's degree in communicative disorders, August 1982; bachelor's degree with highest honors in speech pathology and audiology.

Statement of candidacy: Ill-advised expenditures have robbed our students of learning opportunities. As an educator, I am committed to making a real change on behalf of our students in this district.

What qualifications, attributes or perspectives would you bring to this elected position that your opponent(s) would not?

Have worked diligently as an advocate for teachers, staff and students. I believe in fair, equal respect for all. Student success must always be the ultimate goal for all decisions.

What are the three most important issues in this race? What would you do to address each one?

Millions of dollars in taxpayers' money have been wasted on outside consultants and reckless lawsuits. Two new vice chancellor positions were created during a hiring freeze. The district needs a financial strategy that funnels more money to the classroom.

Last semester only 37 percent of sections were taught by full-time faculty at Cuyamaca College and only 45 percent at Grossmont College. This is way below the state average. Need to improve the full-time, part-time ratio.

The district lacks true-shared governance. All constituents must have a voice, and the work and budget of the board must be transparent.

Does a college degree make someone a better school board member?

A teacher I knew went to night school two days a week for a while. At the end of it, she said to me, "I can't believe I have a Master's Degree!"

I smiled and nodded, but I kept my mouth shut. I was thinking, "I can't believe it either."

My colleague's master's degree was in education. As some readers may know, an advanced degree in education is unlike any other master's degree. Many such programs give teachers academic credit for doing what they've done day after day for twenty years: going to work. Very few education programs require the intense effort and accomplishment that is the basis of other advanced degrees. The GRE scores of education candidates are the lowest of all scores--and that's just for those who are accepted into the most rigorous programs. Most programs don't require the GRE.

So I always get a kick out of people who call themselves "Doctor" when they get a Ph. D. in education. (Doctor Cox, the mayor of Chula Vista, is an example.)

But at the recent forum for candidates for Grossmont High School District board, two right-wing challengers, Woods and Jedynak, claimed that their bachelor's degrees that made them superior to independent right-wing incumbents Schreiber and Urdahl. The challengers are supported by Jim Kelly, the ex-board president who formerly controlled Schreiber and Urdahl with an iron hand.

Sometimes education gives people a broader understanding of the world, and sometimes it just makes narrow-minded people more dangerous.


I myself would prefer not to go back to the Jim Kelly days.

That goal would be accomplished by electing Caroll Boone, a retired lawyer.

So who do I choose to go along with Boone? Urdahl or Schreiber? I choose Schreiber, not because I approve of her gay-baiting activities, but because she hasn't declared bankruptcy in the last year, as Urdahl has done.

Below is Leonel Sanchez' report on the race:

2 challengers aim attacks at 2 incumbents at forum
By Leonel Sanchez
October 9, 2008

Schreiber said that if Woods and Jedynak win, they would be expected by Kelly to follow his orders, and “nothing happened when he was leader.”

Kelly said he did not recruit Jedynak and Woods but supports them because of their character and credentials...

Carroll Boone, a retired lawyer and the lone Democrat in the board race, stayed out of the fray.

Boone instead emphasized her skills as a mediator, which she said she would use to bring the board together. Boone said she supports Proposition U, and was the only candidate who said the board should not have endorsed the proposed state ban on same-sex marriage.

“I see no relevance,” Boone said.

The county Republican Party has endorsed Jedynak and Woods. The Grossmont Education Association, which represents district teachers, has endorsed Schreiber and Urdahl.