Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Pay the good teachers double or triple what they're getting now

Is Topix a cool website? I think so. Here's my December 2007 post:

"The California Teachers Association is hurting our students, teachers and schools. Its failed one-size-fits-all approach to education ignores the huge differences between teachers. Parents and teachers know all teachers do not learn in the same way or at the same pace. Some of them are far, far behind in intelligence, education, and understanding of how kids learn. They should not have full responsibility for any classroom. Pay the good teachers double or triple what they're getting now, and put them in charge of several classrooms. Each master teacher should be deeply involved in several classrooms, guiding several beginning or slow-to-learn teachers."

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

CVESD gets the Chula Vista fire department to look the other way--or at least it doesn't complain about lack of inspections

NBC News San Diego
Students in Danger?
December 20, 2008

I knew that Chula Vista Elementary School District was able to get the Star-News, Union Tribune, and the Police Department to neglect investigations of problems in schools, but I was still surprised to learn that the school district was able to get the fire department to look the other way--or, at the very least, not to complain when the fire department backed off.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Micromanagement or reform? New school board in Capistrano (CUSD) won't leave superintendent and teachers in charge of affairs

Micromanagement or reform? I don't know the correct answer to my own question, but I do know that many school districts are happily corrupt, and that the teachers union, the administrators and the board incumbants in those districts fight hard to prevent reforms.

I know that Capistrano was deeply corrupt a couple of years ago. But is the new board being reasonable in its demands? Maybe, maybe not.

I think it's interesting that the board says the superintendent doesn't "set up meetings as instructed." Why doesn't the board itself set up the meetings? How hard is that? Just name a time and a place and a subject for discussion. My suspicion is that the proposed meetings would not be open to parents and the public, and would simply be a tool for board members to increase their personal power.

On the other hand, it seems that the administration and teachers might also be trying to protect personal power. (PTAs aren't the same as the "parents and public." PTAs can be very narrow and clubby, and are usually closely aligned with administration or teachers or both.) Why doesn't the superintendent set up the meetings and invite the public?

I suspect that neither side in this battle is interested in including parents and the public in the decision-making process.

Was Capo superintendent supposed to be fired?
The Orange County Register
December 19, 2008

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO – A contentious, 4-1/2-hour Capistrano Unified school board meeting that focused solely on whether Superintendent A. Woodrow Carter was to be fired Thursday...

When board President Ellen Addonizio announced at the end of the meeting that no action had been taken behind closed doors regarding Carter's purported dismissal, an audience of hundreds of fervent Carter supporters clapped and cheered wildly...

Carter, a retired Army colonel, was hired as superintendent of the Capistrano Unified School District in September 2007 on an interim basis, the fifth person to fill the top administrative spot in 13 months' time. But during his short tenure, a politically popular parents group known as the CUSD Recall Committee was waging a successful campaign to reconstitute the school board with all "reform" trustees.

The 3-year-old "reform" movement pledged to clean house, ridding Capistrano of what's been characterized as mismanagement and corruption reaching into the highest levels of the district's administration...

...Carter, who has worked as a school district superintendent for 81/2 years, is enormously popular among many of the district's teachers, administrators and other staff. During his 15 months at Capistrano Unified, he has earned tremendous respect from the district's PTA council leaders as well as fierce support from employee union leaders...

Trustees also routinely get into verbal tiffs with Carter from the dais, accusing him of failing to gather information and set up meetings as instructed.

In Carter's speech Thursday, he suggested some trustees were trying to "micro-manage and usurp" his authority and turn him into "a pawn on the chessboard that has to be removed."

...Recall Committee leader Tony Beall, a Rancho Santa Margarita city councilman, reminded trustees Thursday that they would need to continue their "reform" effort, even if it wasn't the politically popular move.

"These entrenched interests don't want to reform our school district," Beall said. "With the removal of the last of the old guard (trustees), one battle is over, but no one should misunderstand: This fight is far from over."

[Blogger's note to Mr. Beall: I think you should open up your reform movement to the public, and be clear and open about the information and meetings you want to have.]

Earlier story from The Orange County Register:

Capistrano school district chief may face discipline, dismissal
The Orange County Register
December 18, 2008

Capistrano Unified School District trustees will meet in private today to discuss possibly disciplining or even dismissing Superintendent A. Woodrow Carter, hired just a year ago when the board was dominated by a different political faction.

During the meeting, Carter will face his second evaluation in five months and his first by a board on which all seven trustees were supported by the CUSD Recall Committee, the powerful community group that has battled to replace board members in regular and recall elections for three years...

Vicki Soderberg, president of the Capistrano Unified Education Association, said trustees would be making a mistake to remove Carter. Soderberg's group opposed the Recall Committee candidates in the November election...

Carter's tenure started amid some controversy. He initially rejected a $28,000 raise offered when he moved from interim superintendent to the permanent post – a time when the district faced major layoffs. He pledged not to sign the contract.

Later, however, he did sign the contract – still pledging not to take the raise – but the document included a new clause on termination pay that hadn't been approved by the trustees.

That contract was invalidated after trustees learned they violated the state's open-meeting law by adopting it in a Feb. 25 closed session.

"If you want to enter into a legally binding relationship with a school district, the contract and all of its terms need to be approved by a majority of the school board," Mark Bresee, the school board's attorney, said at the time. "In the case of a high-ranking district employee, that approval has to occur in open session."

The board adopted a new contract in June that included the raise, which Carter accepted since the layoff threat had largely passed. None of the current board trustees was a party to approving that contract.

Blogger's Timeline:
1. Carter refused to sign contract when he moved from "Interim" to "permanent" superintendent position because he didn't want pay raise;
2. Carter signed contract with termination clause that had not been approved by board;
3. Feb. 25, 2008 contract approved in closed session;
4. Contract invalidated because not done in open session;
5. June 2008 New contract approved with pay raise;
6. November 2008 Entirely new board elected.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Holocaust couldn't happen here...or could it? 70% of ordinary citizens willing to administer 150 volts if told to do so

How many Americans are capable of critical thinking at a critical time? About 30 per cent, according to a new study. Do schools and parents put too much emphasis on automatic obedience to authority figures?

Shocking revelation: Santa Clara University professor mirrors famous torture study
By Lisa M. Krieger
Bay Area News Group

Replicating one of the most controversial behavioral experiments in history, a Santa Clara University psychologist has found that people will follow orders from an authority figure to administer what they believe are painful electric shocks.

More than two-thirds of volunteers in the research study had to be stopped from administering 150 volt shocks of electricity, despite hearing a person's cries of pain, professor Jerry M. Burger concluded in a study published in the January issue of the journal American Psychologist...

The study, using paid volunteers from the South Bay, is similar to the famous 1974 "obedience study'' by the late Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram. In the wake of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann's trial, Milgram was troubled by the willingness of people to obey authorities — even if it conflicted with their own conscience.

...The haunting images of average people administering shocks have kept memories of Milgram's research alive for decades, even as recently as the Abu Ghraib scandal.

The subjects — recruited in ads in the Mercury News, Craigslist and fliers distributed in libraries and communities centers in Santa Clara, Cupertino and Sunnyvale — thought they were testing the effect of punishment on learning.

"They were average citizens, a typical cross-section of people that you'd see around every day,'' said Burger.

In the study, conducted two years ago, volunteers administered what they believed were increasingly powerful electric shocks to another person in a separate room. An "authority figure'' prodded the volunteer to shock another person, who was playing the role of "learner." Each time the learner gave an incorrect answer, the volunteer was urged to press a switch, seemingly increasing the electricity over time. They were told that the shocks were painful but not dangerous.

...participants were told at least three times that they could withdraw from the study at any time and still receive the $50 payment...

Like Milgram's study, Burger's shock generator machine was a fake. The cries of pain weren't real, either. Both the authority figure and the learner were actors...

Burger found that 70 percent of the participants had to be stopped from escalating shocks over 150 volts, despite hearing cries of protest and pain. Decades earlier, Milgram found that 82.5 percent of participants continued administering shocks. Of those, 79 percent continued to the shock generator's end, at 450 volts...

The experiment shows that people are more likely to comply with instructions if the task starts small, then escalates, according to Burger.

...Finally, they had been told that they should not feel responsible for inflicting pain; rather, the "instructor" was accountable. "Lack of feeling responsible can lead people to act in ways that they might otherwise not,'' said Burger...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

News quiz: What do Tri-City Hospital, SDCOE-JPA and Otay Water District have in common? Answer: their law firms.

Photo: Public entity attorney Daniel Shinoff

"It must be a very fine line between what is criminal and what is, in my mind, very inappropriate and unprofessional."

1. Who said this?

(a) George Coulter, board member Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside
(b) Judy Stratton, board member of MiraCosta Community College
(c) Donna Frye, San Diego City Councilwoman
(b) Gloria Carranza, board member of MiraCosta Community College

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Answers to this quiz are HERE.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

2. Who is being talked about?

(a) William "Woody" Merrill, attorney for Tri-City Healthcare Medical Center
(b) Art Gonzalez, CEO of Tri-City Healthcare Medical Center;
(c) Daniel Shinoff, attorney, San Diego County Office of Education--Joint Powers Authority;
(d) Randolph Ward, administrator, San Diego County Office of Education--Joint Powers Authority; SDCOE-JPA at first refused to turn over documents about the Victoria Richart settlement;
(e) The speaker was speaking in general terms about district attorney Bonnie Dumanis' investigation of events at MiraCosta Community College.

"Some of these things don't seem ethical and not even legal...He's either got to change his ways or get on his way...We're not getting the transparency that's needed.”

3. Who said it?

(a) George Coulter, board member Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside
(b) Joe Biden, campaigning to be vice-president
(c) Judy Stratton, board member of MiraCosta Community College
(d) Rick Walker, student trustee at GCCCD

4. Who is being talked about?

(a) President George W. Bush
(b) Art Gonzalez, CEO of Tri-City Healthcare Medical Center
(c) William "Woody" Merrill, attorney for Tri-City Healthcare Medical Center
(d) Omero Suarez, Chancellor of GCCCD
(e) Bonifacio "Bonny" Garcia, attorney for public entities, famously worked for Burke Williams & Sorenson

5. What law firm is now representing Tri-City Healthcare Medical Center?

(a) Best, Best & Krieger
(b) Fagen, Friedman & Fulfrost
(c) Stutz, Artiano Shinoff & Holtz
(d) Burke, Williams & Sorenson
(e) It doesn't matter which of the above it is; they're pretty much the same.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Answers to this quiz are HERE.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tri-City Health Care District Hospital places CEO on administrative leave and fires school attorney Woody Merrill

To see all posts on Tri-City Healthcare, click HERE.

UPDATE DECEMBER 25, 2008: In my opinion, Burke Williams & Sorenson law firm is no better than former Tri-City lawyer Woody Merrill. Reform is needed, but none
of these lawyers is interested in reform. Maybe the public should sell the hospital (cheap) to employees. (See Logan Jenkins' article.)

Tri-City Medical Center CEO Art Gonzalez has been placed on administrative leave. At a closed-session meeting yesterday Tri-City Health Care District Hospital (Oceanside) placed CEO Art Gonzalez and administrators who worked closely with him on administrative leave.

At the December 18, 2008 board meeting, Michael J. Williams of C.M. de Crinis & Co. in Sherman Oaks was hired to do a forensic audit of hospital books.

At the same meeting the board fired legal counsel William W. "Woody" Merrill, who is also one of the preferred attorneys doing work for San Diego County Office of Education. Merrill works for Best, Best and Krieger, a firm that has many contracts with public agencies in San Diego. Mr. Merrill's wife, Michelle Fort-Merrill, works for SDCOE-JPA, and is currently being sued by Rodger Hartnett, a former SDCOE-JPA employee.

Merrill was replaced by Julie Biggs, a Riverside attorney who works for Burke, Williams & Sorenson.

The San Diego Union-Tribune notes that legal counsel from Musick, Peeler & Garrett was also fired.

The North County Times writes:

...[Kathleen] Sterling and [George]Coulter did say they thought it was time for new legal counsel.

"I think it's important that we give control back to the people and the organization," Sterling said. "The board has by all appearances abdicated their authority to the CEO and it was time to re-evaluate our relationship with Best, Best & Krieger (and) Woody Merrill."

"I feel that these attorneys weren't doing what was right for the board or the public," Coulter said.

A year and a half ago Tri-City trustee Kathleen Sterling objected to financial irregularities at the hospital.

The board has tried for a long time to muzzle Ms. Sterling, and at one time hired a private security firm to follow her. North County Times published various articles about Sterling:
April 27, 2007
Oct. 31, 2005

Sterling was recently reelected.

Channel 6 covered protests in 2004 when Gonzalez and others were given $2 million in bonuses.

On June 1, 2007 Paul Sisson of the North County Times noted that Gonzalez was making $436,000 a year in base salary, and that the governing board had approved two raises:

On a 5-2 vote, with hospital directors Kathleen Sterling and RoseMarie Reno opposed, the board increased Gonzalez's base salary from $436,000 to $457,000. The raise is retroactive to Oct. 3. A second 5-2 vote along the same lines will increase the chief executive's base salary to $483,000 on Oct. 3 this year. Gonzalez's contract with Tri-City requires that his salary be reviewed annually and adjusted to keep his pay in the 65th percentile of hospital chiefs at similar-sized medical institutions nationwide...

Gonzalez earns a base annual salary of $483,000. The board voted recently to pay him a $90,000 bonus for 2008.

Other articles about Tri-City and Woody Merrill:

Opposition statement to Tri-City bond challenged; September 7, 2006

Tri-City sues doctor for breach of contract; July 9, 2007

Thursday, December 18, 2008

JPAs, insurance brokers, lawyers: who is profiting from school litigation? Santa Clara v. Keenan & Associates

Photo: Lora Duzyk (left) is San Diego County Office of Education's Assistant Superintendent for Business Services.

Who is profiting from inflated insurance premiums in San Diego schools? Perhaps just about everyone involved in school liability insurance.

Sometimes my commenters know more than I do about a subject, and school insurance is one of those subjects. A recent comment caused me to do some research. I already knew that the San Diego County Office of Education-Joint Powers Authority was paying millions of tax dollars each years for lawyers who cover up wrongdoing in schools. I didn't know how far up (or down) the corruption went.

I found this:

County pushing suit alleging misdeeds in insurance industry
By Julie O'Shea
San Jose Recorder

Following New York's lead, Santa Clara County is suing several top insurance brokerage firms, claiming they have duped customers out of millions through secret "kickbacks" and other "lucrative" service deals.

"It's almost cartel-like," said the county's outside counsel, Louise Renne, a for-mer San Francisco city attorney who wasbrought on board because of her extensive experience with this type of litigation. "We believe that every public agency in the state of California has been affected."

In a complaint filed in Alameda County Superior Court in November, Santa Clara is alleging that industry giants Marsh & McLennan Cos., Driver Alliant Insurance Service and Keenan & Associates are "steering" clients toward insurers that are offering brokers undisclosed commissions, funded through insurance premiums.

"In the end," the complaint alleges,"clients paid more for less insurance, with defendants siphoning off the difference to pad their bottom line..."

Here is part of what my commenter wrote:

"...Three insurance brokers namely Driver Alliant, Keenan and Associates and Marsh & McLennan manage these super pools. These insurance brokers are being sued in Alameda County where the allegations are for unlawful business practices, in violation of California Business and Profession Code section 17200 et. seq. false and misleading advertisement where they cream millions of dollars in public funds in violation of Business and Profession Government Code Section 17500 et. seq., breach of fiduciary duty, illegal and secret kickbacks, steering premium dollars and getting public agencies to purchase services at high rates.

"...Keenan and Associates has a “HYBRID SELF-INSURANCE and REINSURANCE” [SDCOE has SELF-JPA where Keenan is also a member of this “Super Pool”] pooling program for nearly 400 schools and community colleges.

"Keenan advertised for its Super Pool’s conference at Lake Tahoe as, “The Pudding is in the Pooling,” in their invitations. Yes, the pudding is good, they are raking in Millions of PUBLIC FUNDS through their billable hours...

"Daniel Shinoff and his SASH firm takes the cream of the Southern District billable hours for BOTH Keenan and SELF which are brokered by Marsh & McLennan. The premium billable hours are steered to his firm with the blessing of Keenan, SELF and Diane Crosier.

"Keenan and Marsh and McLennan as the agents of California’s public entities have a fiduciary duty to recommend the best coverage at the best price for its clients. They are to provide independent, objective advice, and to put ‘their clients best interests’ ahead of their own. Keenan and Driver and Marsh and McLennan are hired to act as consulting, billing/premium administration, and claims administration. Their duty is to provide full disclosure, candor, and loyalty. Disclose the amounts of income; Contingent Commissions Agreements and remuneration they receive form all transactions to the public agencies they represent. Keenan has a policy where every employee, associate and partner has to belong to several churches, golf clubs, non-profit organizations and civic groups. This is how they create friendships with judges, political figures, churches and organizations who look the other way. While attorneys like Daniel Shinoff bully public boards into contractual agreements and decisions that are not in the best interest of PUBLIC AGENCIES but bring in a lot of billable hours to his firm and bigger premiums for insurance Brokers and JPA’s.

"The agreements that the PUBLIC AGENCIES get pressured into signing with the JPA’s have different names like: “Contingent Income Agreements” “Production Service Agreements” “Volume Based Commission Agreements” “Profit-Sharing Commission Agreements” “Commission Override Agreements” Premium Value Contingent Commission Agreements” “Preferred Agency Agreements” and “Platinum Profit Sharing Agreements.”

"These commissions create a blatant CONFLICT of INTEREST and a direct financial interest for these brokers, JPA’s and preferred law firms. These commission and preferred agreements cause CONFLICT of INTEREST, along with premium prices in many cases with lower benefits. The insurance companies recoup the kickbacks paid to marsh & Marsh and McLennan, Keenan and Driver by higher insurance prices passed on to the public agencies. Whereby, suppressing competition in the market of insurance.

"This is the reason why the PUBLIC AGENCIES in San Diego cannot get insurance apart from the JPA’s. No insurance company can do business in California without belonging to one of the three “insurance brokers.” The insurance brokers have contractual agreements with certain JPA’s; like SDCOE SELF and these JPA use the same law firms they have contractual agreements with like Best Best and Krieger, Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff and Holtz “SASH” and Winet..."

(End of quote of commenter to this blog.)

It turns out that insurance companies were doing a lot of harm long before they helped bring down the US economy in 2008 with their credit default derivatives. The derivatives were too complicated and clever by half, a scheme to get rich quick while promising that there would be no consequences. The government failed to regulate these scams, pretending they weren't really insurance policies. Institutions began to fail once it was discovered that the institutions didn't have any protection against defaults because they were unknowingly insuring themselves.

Many local school districts belong to the San Diego County Office of Education-JPA. Diane Crosier is the Executive Director of the SDCOE-JPA, and she works under the direction of SDCOE Superintendent Randolph Ward and Asst. Supt. Lora Duzyk. Crosier represents the SDCOE-JPA at a bigger JPA called SELF.

Diane Crosier then goes on to represent SELF when the other JPAs come together to form what it is called a “super pool,” then she reports back (delivers instructions) to SELF and SDCOE-JPA (which she herself directs).

This complete circle leaves me wondering who is in charge, the people at the bottom or the people at the top? There is some evidence that the person in charge is Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz attorney Daniel Shinoff, whom Diane Crosier most often selects to represent school districts in San Diego.

Another shocker: Dumanis ends one more college fraud probe without charges

Photo: District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis

DA ends probe of land sale to college
San Diego Union Tribune
By Jennifer Vigil
December 14, 2008

The District Attorney's Office has cleared everyone involved in a land sale to the San Diego Community College District that benefited two politically connected developers.

The investigation has been closed, and “no criminal charges are forthcoming against any individual or entity involved in this matter,” District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis wrote in a Thursday letter to the college district.

Dumanis' office looked into a September 2006 real estate deal in which the district paid $1.28 million for a 15th Street duplex for a campus expansion downtown.
Questions arose about the purchase after The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the developers, Mike Madigan and Paul Nieto, had bought the parcel eight months earlier for $750,000 and used a private trust held by Nieto's father-in-law to sell it to the college district.

Madigan was involved in San Diego's downtown redevelopment efforts, and Nieto is a former president of a Chula Vista homebuilding company and once sat on the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority Board.

In correspondence sent to the duplex owners in 2004 and 2005, a real estate broker indicated the developers were speaking on behalf of the college district, a link that investigators found had not been formalized.

Deputy District Attorney Mike Still, who investigated the land transactions, said Madigan, Nieto and their broker may have made misleading statements, but a one-year statute of limitations had expired on any possible misdemeanor charges.

Felony fraud charges also were considered but dismissed as too harsh, Still said.
“We found some misrepresentations on the front end, but they may have been misunderstandings as well,” he said.

Former City Attorney Michael Aguirre investigated the matter and filed a civil suit against the broker. Still said the case was delayed pending the outcome of his investigation...

The district continues to plan construction on 15th Street, part of a $1.5 billion bond-funded renovation and expansion campaign, but more properties must be acquired. Jennifer Vigil: (619) 718-5069;

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Truth is an absolute defense to charge of defamation, says Christopher Juillet

Citizen Media Law Project has posted the EDF Ventures v. Ressi case, a defamation lawsuit regarding The Funded blog.

It appears that the lawsuit is in vain, since The Funded keeps no information about people who post on the site.

"The best rule for writers to follow is to avoid making posts if they can't back up their claims...Be right and be able to prove it because truth is an absolute defense."

Company files defamation lawsuit against anonymous Web poster
Posted by Tina Reed
The Ann Arbor News
August 21, 2008

After executives at an Ann Arbor venture capital firm discovered an anonymous, negative Internet posting about the company, they weren't just mad: They decided to sue.

In a court filing, EDF Ventures accused "John Doe" of defamation for implying in a comment posted on the Web that the people running the firm were dishonest. The comment was made on a California-based Web site called The Funded, which was created to allow entrepreneurs to rate investors anonymously...

Adeo Ressi, the Web site founder, said last week that he planned to cooperate with the subpoena and provide the records he has. But he said the information will likely be unhelpful because of the measures the site takes to make posters anonymous.

The Web site's policy tells visitors, who must be approved to sign up and comment, that all personal information is discarded after approval.

"It's the best thing that ever happened to The Funded," Ressi said. "This case will prove it is truly anonymous."...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Come back to fight the good fight, Jimmy Groth, Jimmy Groth

California Teachers Association's director from the San Diego area, Jim Groth, is missing in action. He seems to have quit writing his column for San Diego Education Association last May. Here's his last post.

Jim has, fortunately, left us with some wise words that we would do well to take to heart:

1. "Solutions used since 2001 will no longer work."

[I'm wondering if perhaps Jim took his own advice, and he's off trying to figure out a new approach to his job as a union official. The approach he came up with in 2001, and stuck with for the last seven-and-a-half years, has not worked particularly well.]

2. "Together we must educate the public about.. the need for leadership to find a better way."

[I'm 100% behind you on this one, Jim. I hope my website has helped let the public know that leadership--in Sacramento and Burlingame (headquarters of CTA)--has shortchanged the public in a catastrophic way, and needs to start looking for a better way. Have you made any progress, Jim?]

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Miss Porter's school sued for bullying; will Daniel Shinoff and Jack Sleeth ride to the rescue?

See all posts about Miss Porter's School.

It seems that the Connecticut elite are in need of a resource that San Diego has in abundance: school lawyers who defend bullies. This case should fit in particularly well with Daniel Shinoff's and Jack Sleeth's talents since the targeted student has a disability.

Top Boarding School Sued Over Bullies
Associated Press AP
December 11, 2008

The bullying came at school dances and in class, on Facebook and back at the dorm by girls who called themselves "Oprichniki," a Russian attack squad notorious for torturing suspected enemies of a 16th-century czar.

The cruel clique at the exclusive Miss Porter's School allegedly harassed Tatum Bass for months, until two doctors advised her to take a break. That's when her tormentors put a "For Rent" sign on her bed and one of the nation's most selective, all-girls boarding schools threatened to expel her.

Bass and her parents responded with a federal lawsuit that offers a disturbing glimpse into life on the leafy campus in the affluent Hartford suburbs. To match tuition that can cost nearly $43,000, the school has an A-list of socialites, diplomats, artists and public servants among its graduates, including Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Gloria Vanderbilt.

According to the lawsuit, Bass was on the honor roll, played sports and was elected by her peers to a top position in student government before her trouble began earlier this year. As activities director, she proposed holding the senior prom with other schools nearby.

Opposition to the idea ballooned, leading to bullying and taunts that Bass was "retarded" because she has attention-deficit disorder. Bass said in the suit that the girls turned on her, calling her "stupid" and peppering her with profanity and insults. She said she was bullied in front of hundreds of people at a school dance, in classes, around campus, in text messages and online on the Facebook social networking site.

"This was the first time that negative attention was drawn to her disability at (the school)," the lawsuit said. "Oprichniki members were at the forefront of taunting Tatum in class and advising others about her disability."...

Admit it, Katherine Nakamura: SDUSD is stuffed to the gills with jelly donuts

SDUSD trustee Katherine Nakamura

In San Diego Unified School District, the right people finally got a bite of the jelly donuts. The right people include former San Diego County teacher of the year Guillermo Gomez, who took one salary cut voluntarily to change districts and teach at a school he believed in, but was laid off by SDUSD at a time of budget crisis.

SDUSD trustee Katherine Nakamura was against rehiring 200 laid-off teachers. She said, "It's nice to rehire teachers, but we're facing a heart attack in the state of California. You don't eat a jelly donut in the middle of a heart attack, no matter how sweet it might be."

Oh, come on, Katherine. You've got jelly all over your face. Didn't you yourself recently vote to hire Mark Bresee as your general counsel, and to pay him more than the last general counsel? That was a very big and costly jelly donut, since Mark Bresee has never responded to allegations that he and Richard Werlin led Chula Vista Elementary School District into a series of violations of law, orchestrated a bizarre farce at the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) that prolonged dysfunction at Castle Park Elementary School, and triggered costly litigation and increased insurance premiums. What was your thinking on that one, Katherine?

Voice of San Diego
Half a Year Later, Teacher Layoffs Are Canceled
by Emily Alpert

The San Diego Unified school board voted unanimously to cancel the teacher layoffs that were carried out this summer...

..."I believe this budget was balanced the wrong way last year. And what we are doing now, is we are correcting a mistake the board has made," Barrera said. "We're not doing it because it's nice, not because we want a jelly donut, but because it is fair."

[Exactly. I hope Mr. Barrera will continue to do what is fair. I hope he isn't doing this just because the California Teachers Association wants him to do it. He needs to be independent of CTA, which is as much a violator of the fairness rule as the district.]