UPDATE: Article about fallout from statements made by Dan Shinoff and his investigator Robert Price about Helix High
HELIX DEFENDS ITS ACTIONS, DISPUTES REPORT RELEASED BY DISTRICT THAT CRITICIZED HELIX ADMINISTRATOR'S RESPONSE TO SEXUAL ABUSE, MISCONDUCT
East County Magazine
February 6, 2009
(La Mesa) Did administrators at Helix Charter High School respond appropriately to four incidents of sexual abuse and misconduct involving teachers and students and has enough been done to prevent similar problems in the future?
...The Helix response criticizes ESI's investigator Robert Price as unqualified and lacking impartiality. A prior ESI investigation was used to revoke the charter of another charter school, the response notes.
According to Helix, Price received over 80 names of former Helix employees provided by the district. Amazingly, when the investigation into 80 separated employees from Helix did not produce the results sought by Mr. Price, the Helix response said, Mr. Price thereafter ground its conclusions in the comments of a small unspecified (and unknown) group of separated Helix employees not reported by the district. The report adds, "Clearly Mr. Price has discounted and omitted any positive comments about the Principal or Helix from his Report despite receiving many such statements." Multiple witnesses contracted by Price called Smith and complained that questions asked appeared to be aimed at finding fault; 2 witnesses told the Helix principal that "The investigator was clearly out to get you", the Helix response states.
The ESI report also fails to list corrective actions taken by Helix after the first incident, including meetings at which staff was encouraged to be vigilant in reporting possible educator sexual abuse/misconduct and told that the school would investigate any such reports and terminate employees for such conduct. Other steps included involvement of social workers, counselors, contacts to parents and more. Why is all of this material information absent from Mr. Price's report? The Helix document asks.
As for allegations that state reporting requirements were not met, Helix maintains that police were notified the same day that the Principal was made aware of the first reported case of sexual abuse/misconduct. The school's response did not encourage future sexual misconduct, Helix argues, because the other case in question was an incident that occurred earlier, but was not brought to the school's attention until after the first incident and the teacher was no longer employed at Helix. The school's reporting of two other incidents was not in question in the District report.
Shinoff stood behind the report. "I don't think that is accurate at all", he said when asked about allegations by Helix of bias and omission of facts favorable to Smith. "Quite frankly, Helix from the very inception of the investigation took exception to our investigator talking to their staff." He added, "Absolutely he was never told by us or by the Superintendent or by anybody to come to any specific conclusion. I did not conduct the investigation; these are his findings...I feel quite confident that he was doing his very best for it to be a fair and balanced investigation."
The problems at Helix also raise the question of whether the District provided adequate oversight and whether the fact that Helix is a charter school may have made providing adequate oversight more difficult.
"One thing I can tell you as a former school board member is that Helix is a charter school, and that the District does not have as much influence as they would if it was a regular school", said George Gastil, former Lemon Grove School Board member and current Lemon Grove Councilman.
A parent, who asked that his name not be published, offered this observation. The combination of Helix being run by the faculty and being an academic pressure cooker contributed to a climate in which inappropriate faculty behavior was more likely to be tolerated as long as it did not interfere with academics.
Doug Deane, chair of the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce Education Committee, called the initial report by EMI unfortunate timing for the District and for Superintendent Collins, but noted that the alleged abuse did not occur on Collins' watch. It is still a question whether or not this alleged misconduct poses a serious liability issue for the District.
After reviewing the Helix response, Deane offered this perspective. "It's very tough for me, as an outsider, to know whose perspective on this is right. What I do know is that ESI was hired by the district, and presumably vetted by the District", he noted. "The GUHSD must either accept ESI's findings which are not supportive of Helix's actions, or admit that ESI came up short and try it again. Either way, it's a problem for the District."
Deane concluded, "Everyone in the East County hopes that the GUHSD Governing Board will take quick and effective action in order to minimize the possibility of something like this happening in the future. If the Board agrees that the investigative report has inconsistencies or factual errors, then I would encourage the Board to re-open the investigation using a different provider."...
The La Mesa Police have vindicated administrators at Helix Charter High School who were falsely accused by Grossmont Union High School District board member Jim Kelly--less than two weeks before the election--of covering up sexual abuse at the school. Kelly's false allegation was clearly intended to help far-right candidate Gary Woods, who managed to oust the moderate Republican incumbent. Kelly now once again has the board majority that he has so desperately desired for the past two years.
See all Helix High posts.
SHINOFF STRIKES AGAIN
The police have named school attorney Daniel Shinoff as a source of Kelly's false information. Shinoff dropped his incendiary comments while working at the taxpayer's expense, during a closed session during a Grossmont Union High School District board meeting.
SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE
La Mesa police's Helix High investigation
November 15, 2008
TO: Sandra Kerl, (La Mesa) City Manager
FROM: (La Mesa) Police Chief (Alan) Lanning
SUBJECT: Review of Helix Charter High investigations and information
The following information may be used in responding to questions or comments about allegations of past sexual misconduct involving Helix Charter high faculty or staff.
On October 22, 2008, Grossmont Union High School District Trustee Jim Kelly held a press conference in Santee to proclaim to the media that he had information that Helix Charter High School was covering up two other incidents of sexual misconduct involving Helix students, teachers and administrators...
...Mr. Kelly claimed that he had three sources that told him there had been other crimes committed at Helix over the past 8 years and have been covered up by Helix administration.
[Blogger's question: SO WHO WERE THE THREE SOURCES FOR THE FALSE INFORMATION?]
 ...The...source was unable to be interviewed because he is in the final stages of brain cancer and unable to communicate.
 One of the sources contacted was Bob Cornelius...Mr. Cornelius could not provide any specifics of any other incidents of sexual misconduct at Helix.
 The other source was identified as Dan Shinoff, an attorney for the District. Mr. Shinoff said that during a closed session meeting he did say that there were six incidents of sexual misconduct at Helix. Mr. Shinoff further said that he was mistaken when he made those comments.
[Blogger's note: Mr. Shinoff may have made other mistakes about people whose elimination from the playing field would benefit him.
Sometimes human beings see what they want to see, and believe what they want to believe, without evidence.
Some of Mr. Shinoff's opponents, including David Alberts and Claudia Houston, have been thrown in jail to teach them not to complain about what's going on at their school. The school officials who benefit from the mistakes wouldn't keep Shinoff on the payroll if they objected to his ideas and advice.
This incident sheds some light on the question: WHO RUNS OUR SCHOOL DISTRICTS?
The answer is becoming clearer. The lawyers and their insurance companies, along with developers, seem to not only run the districts by controlling board members, but also by choosing board members.]