Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Superior Court Judge tells SDCOE Supt. Randy Ward that he was wrong to fire whistle-blower

Randolph Ward knows that school officials don't have to obey the law because California's administrative courts can be relied on to give them legal victories they don't deserve. So Randy doesn't investigate whistle-blower complaints. Ward says, "In all cases, the hearing is the investigation."

This lawlessness among school officials is a key reason that education is failing most of our students. People in power seem to listen to no one except their lawyers.

It's time to stop retaliating against whistle-blowers, Mr. Ward.

Agency fights reinstating worker with whistleblower complaint
North County Times
March 30, 2009

The San Diego County Office of Education said Monday it will appeal a judge's finding that a fired employee must be reinstated because the agency failed to consider his whistleblower complaint for alleged unethical practices.

Last week, San Diego County Superior Court Judge Steven Denton ordered the Office of Education to reinstate Rodger Hartnett to the agency's risk management department, from which he was fired in 2007...

Hartnett contends in court filings that cozy relationships among several agency employees and Daniel Shinoff of the San Diego law firm Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff & Holtz led to that firm receiving the lion's share of legal work defending school districts faced with lawsuits.

Shinoff, who has represented dozens of area school districts in recent years and is widely regarded as a skilled and dogged advocate, has denied the allegation in published reports.

Efforts to reach Shinoff on Monday were unsuccessful...

In his reinstatement order, Denton said the agency's Personnel Commission violated state law when it failed to conduct an investigation into Hartnett's allegation, thus rendering the firing moot.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Rodger Hartnett wins!! SDCOE's Randy Ward and Diane Crosier wrongfully terminated him

The SDCOE claims coordinator who accused school attorney Daniel Shinoff of inappropriate relationships with risk management executive director Diane Crosier and administrator Rick Rinnear has won his wrongful termination lawsuit.

Judge Gives Schools Official Back Pay, Job
Voice of San Diego
by Emily Alpert
March 27, 2009

A Superior Court judge ruled this week that a former San Diego County Office of Education employee who filed a wrongful termination suit against the agency must be reinstated and awarded back pay to the date of his firing.

Rodger Hartnett once helped oversee litigation as a claims coordinator for the Risk Management Joint Powers Authority, a public agency run through the County Office of Education that handles lawsuits for school districts. He was terminated in August 2007. He claimed in his lawsuit that he was fired for complaining that one firm, Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz, received a disproportionate share of legal work "based on personal relationships" in the office rather than merit.

The claims were central to this voiceofsandiego.org story investigating the relationship between the firm and the school district.

An internal Office of Education commission found that Hartnett's termination was "for good cause and not excessive" and that he was not the victim of retaliation. The agency has stated that Hartnett was fired for negligence, insubordination and dishonesty, including discussing a confidential file with an outside attorney and lying about it.

But Superior Court Judge Steven Denton ruled on Wednesday that the termination was not done by the book. He concluded that the Office of Education commission "did not proceed in the manner required by law because it failed to conduct an investigation prior to the hearing." Denton did not address any of the "substantive issues" of the case, such as whether Hartnett is justified in his claims about "insider dealings" to Stutz Artiano.

The judge concluded that Hartnett should be immediately reinstated and is "entitled to an award of back pay from the date of his termination through reinstatement." Hartnett estimates that that payout could total nearly $250,000.

"I'm going to go to work on Monday with the order (from the judge) in hand," Hartnett said. "I don't know what they're going to do. They've made it clear they don't want me back." He added, "Their options now are to welcome me back, try to fire me again, or file an appeal of the ruling."

I left a message for County Office of Education spokesman Jim Esterbrooks to find out how the agency plans to respond and how it interprets the ruling.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Gail Mendes, who asked boss Richard Werlin to punish a fellow teacher, elected Secretary-Treasurer of CTA

A few days ago I wrote about Gail Mendes, the former president of United Teachers of Richmond, who has been elected as secretary-treasurer of California Teachers Association in an unusual challenge to a sitting executive officer.

The reaction among many CTA members has been negative.

Apparently, many votes for Mendes were cast to "send a message" to the CTA bigwigs; these voters didn't think that Mendes would actually be elected. They expected incumbent Daniel Vaughn to keep his seat.

Christy Marquez commented on Intercepts, a fine blog about education politics:

"...[I]t was a complete shock when the results were announced that she won by a very small margin. In fact, when her name was announced, not a single person in the room applauded. Instead, many were fighting back tears of sadness and anger that such a thing could happen to such a good man who has devoted many years to the union. Everyone agrees that nothing personal was intended and that the outcome was a complete fluke. Unfortunately, not a lot can be done about it now. Gail is completely unqualified for the position and does not have the experience nor support to succeed. She will most likely be challenged in two years for the position of vice president, and hopefully will lose to a more qualified and well-liked candidate..."

Diane Brown, a UTR teacher who contributes to the excellent blog "Progressive Teachers," wrote:

Gail Mendes' tenure as President of UTR was counter to principles of union democracy. Rank and file and UTR board members' rights were trampled on (a UTR board member described her leadership at rep council as "fascistic").

During a UTR election a first time candidate was running for a position on the executive board. This candidate's name was left off the ballot. Mendes went to the candidate's school site unannounced and strongly suggested that the candidate withdraw from the race. Unsuspecting any foul play the candidate agreed.

Some UTR members wrote letters to then-Vice President David Sanchez about Mendes' undemocratic hostile leadership. A UTR member at Mendes school described her as "dangerous."

I filed a complaint with the Public Employees Relations Board (PERB) charging Mendes with these abuses of office. November 30, 2006, Mendes reported me to Rick Werlin, WCCUSD Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, demanding that he discipline me for an alleged contract violation. Mendes' action, asking a boss to punish a fellow teacher and an Association member would be universally reviled and condemned by any class conscious union member. I met with the UTR Executive Board and asked that she resign her position as President.

On another occasion Mendes interfered with members right to elect a site representative of their choice. She had the election overturned.

When CTA members learned Mendes had been elected Secretary-Treasurer, one member said, "It's time to get out." CTA members who decided to "send a message" and vote for Mendes, made a mistake that they will live to regret. The only way to correct this mistake is through a RECALL campaign. I would not wait two years.

Diane Brown, CTA Member

Another teacher
backs up Diane Brown's statements:

"...[Gail Mendes] initiated a grievance against a UTR member with the District Superintendent, Rick Werlin. This is ratting out a fellow union member. A former WCCUSD school board member has described Mendes as “vindictive” and said that she cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars for second parcel tax vote..."

Margaret Browne

[Maura Larkins' note: Of course, not all teachers voted for Mendes by accident. CTA director Jim Groth from Chula Vista worked well with the very same Richard Werlin who palled around with Gail Mendes. I'll bet that Jim Groth was an enthusiastic supporter of Mendes. Clearly, some teachers truly believe that it's appropriate to get ahead in teacher union politics by trampling on teachers and students.]

[Maura Larkins' post script: A coincidence that makes this story more fascinating for me is that I attended kindergarten in Richmond schools (now known as WCCUSD) before returning to Chula Vista, where I went to 1st and 2nd grades in Chula Vista Elementary School District.]

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Grossmont instructor awarded $385,000 by jury

Grossmont instructor awarded $385,000 by jury
San Diego Union-Tribune
March 25, 2009

A San Diego Superior Court jury has awarded $385,000 to a Grossmont College instructor who accused school officials of retaliating against her after she reported sexual discrimination and harassment to a supervisor in 2002.

The jury last week awarded damages to Gwenyth Mapes, a tenured humanities instructor at the El Cajon community college.

In her lawsuit, Mapes said she told her supervisor to tell another teacher, William Hoaglin, to “keep it in his pants” after reporting alleged incidents of sexual misconduct, according to court documents.

She based her complaint on discussions she had with a male student who had been in Hoaglin's class and told her he gave preferential treatment to attractive blond female students. She said a staff member also told her he had made suggestive comments to her. In addition, Mapes said she overheard students joking how being a blonde in the teacher's class would get someone an A.

The district said Mapes did not produce any evidence, and Hoaglin denied any wrongdoing.

Mapes said district officials gave her negative evaluations, suspended her and excluded her from activities after her initial complaint to her supervisor, Zoe Close, chair of Philosophy, Humanities and Religious Studies.

The district's lawyer said Mapes' supervisors disciplined her because she she had not produced any evidence of wrongdoing and continued to spread rumors about Hoaglin. –L.S.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I didn't see this coming: CTA's Gail Mendes triggers a power struggle in Burlingame

See all posts re Richard Werlin.

UPDATE: Gail Mendes elected; teachers contemplate recall.

In a highly unusual move, the sitting secretary-treasurer of the California Teachers Association has been challenged by the former president of United Teachers of Richmond, Gail Mendes.

My own familiarity with Ms. Mendes came about when I did a Google search a couple of years ago to find out what happened to Chula Vista Elementary School District's Richard Werlin, an administrator who disappeared around the time I tried to take his deposition. He turned up at West Contra Costa County Unified School District (Richmond Schools have been called WCCUSD since they went bankrupt a few years ago).

Apparently Ms. Mendes was a good pal of Mr. Werlin at WCCCUSD, even calling him during his vacation. Ms. Mendes was also known for her disapproval of teachers who spoke their own minds.

Richard Werlin disappeared suddenly from WCCCUSD right after the Jennie Mo case blew up. Werlin has a history of instructing principals to call the police if there is the slightest suspicion that a teacher might talk to the press. It seems that teacher Jennie Mo complained about bullying at the school, and the staff was displeased about it. Jennie was put on administrative leave when she wouldn't shut up, but she didn't vacate the premises fast enough, so the police were called. The officers stormed the library where Jennie and her 7-year-old students were located, hauled the teacher away in handcuffs, and jailed her for a week with bail set at $900,000.00 ($50,000.00 for each of her "hostages" (students)). Jennie was released when the District Attorney declined to press charges.

Perhaps the district felt that Mr. Werlin could have handled the situation with more discretion. Gail Mendes, on the other hand, never made a peep regarding the startling event.

I suspect that Mendes has the support of CTA director Jim Groth, who worked closely with Richard Werlin at Chula Vista Elementary School District. Jim Groth is famous for demanding that teachers stay "on message" and for looking the other way when administrators violate the law.

Richard Werlin currently has a temporary position at Compton Unified School District.

Monday, March 23, 2009

SDCOE trustee Jerry Rindone is questioning the way Diane Crosier and Dan Puplava do business

We're lucky to have Jerry Rindone on the San Diego County Office of Education board.
It may not be a coincidence that the only trustee at SDCOE who sees a problem with the recently-exposed shenanigans in the Risk Management department is one of the new board members. Jerry Rindone is concerned about administrator Dan Puplava's having a side business with the same financial institutions that he manages on behalf of SDCOE. The state attorney general says this is prohibited.

Longtime board members John Witt, Sharon Jones, and Susan Hartley have been studiously looking the other way for years, ignoring my public records requests and refusing to investigate complaints about Risk Management executive director Diane Crosier.

I had hoped that Superintendent Randolph Ward would clean things up when he arrived, but it appears that he (literally!) bought into the Risk Management schemes within weeks after he was hired in 2006.

I'd like to think the other new trustee, Mark Anderson, is still contemplating the situation. Perhaps he'll have the courage to speak out against the cronyism in the SDCOE Risk Management department.

Employee-broker issue divides school trustees
Superintendent also was client
By Jeff McDonald
San Diego Union-Tribune
March 23, 2009

Background: The manager of the San Diego County Office of Education deferred compensation program ran a side business that sold investments to teachers and administrators served by the program.

One trustee of the San Diego County Board of Education [Jerry Rindone of Chula Vista] is so concerned about a manager's side business selling financial securities to educators that he requested a review of the situation by the superintendent.

...According to the state Attorney General's Office, public school employees – including those in the county education office – are prohibited from acting as commissioned sales agents for vendors of the educator retirement accounts...

County Superintendent of Schools Randolph Ward, who bought an annuity from [Dan] Puplava weeks after being hired in 2006, did not respond to requests for an interview.

At issue is the deferred-compensation program run by the Fringe Benefits Consortium...Over the years, Puplava and a group of independent financial advisers hosted hundreds of workshops to tell school employees about the program...The newspaper obtained one statement that showed Puplava earned more than $355,000 in commissions in 2006...

Board President Sharon Jones said she and her colleagues are “always concerned” about conflict-of-interest allegations but noted that there is no law against running a personal business while working for a public agency...

[Maura Larkins' note: Sharon Jones seems to be concerned about allegations, but not about wrongdoing. She wants SDCOE to keep its secrets. Jones is my representative on the board, and has ignored all my requests for help obtaining public records. The only board member who has ever been responsive to my requests was Nick Aguilar, the previous south county representative. It's interesting that Aguilar's replacement, Jerry Rindone, is the only board member currently concerned about SDCOE's relationship with insurance companies.]

Trustee John Witt declined to discuss the issue;

Trustee Mark Anderson did not return two messages left at his home.

Trustee Susan Hartley said the county schools office looked into Puplava's dealings and found nothing amiss.

[Maura Larkins' note: Maybe you should have someone from the outside investigate, Ms. Hartley.]

Tom Curtis,
a retired university administrator from La Mesa with no ties to the county Board of Education...was so angry after reading the newspaper report that he called the headquarters to complain...

[The SDUT first broke this story last week; Voice of San Diego recently wrote about SDCOE lawyer Daniel Shinoff and his relationship with the folks in SDCOE's Risk Management department.]

Sunday, March 22, 2009

$5,000 Prize for Video Best Articulating Personal Action for Living Green

March 18, 2009
Tricia Kent
Director, Avalon Communications
(772) 633-8337

JustDoOne.org Issues Global Call for Green Solutions on a Scale of One

JustDoOne.org, the online community for sustainable living, today issued a global call for personal green solutions. The Just Do One organization is collecting the best ideas for more sustainable living, summarized in three-minute YouTube-style videos, and sharing them free with the interested community worldwide. The best video entry, as judged by the JustDoOne.org community and an expert panel, wins a $5,000 cash prize.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Accelerated School (TAS) in Los Angeles: classified staff unionizes


Come to The Accelerated School this Tuesday, March 24th from 4-8 pm to hear the board make up excuses, Patrick Judd blame everyone else, and perhaps more lawsuits to be filed that day.

See all posts on Patrick Judd.
See all posts on The Accelerated School (TAS).


March 18, 2009 was a day of joy for The Accelerated School’s classified staff!

They have unionized with SEIU Local 99. As a parent of The Accelerated School I support the unionization of the teachers and classified staff.

...According to Mr. Eric Johnson, President of TAS Board of Trustees Patrick Judd was brought to The Accelerated School to help take our school out of program improvement; I think it’s more like program destruction. Patrick Judd has managed to create nothing chaos.

Patrick Judd has been forced down our throats and we parents weren’t allowed to give input into his hiring and the current extension of his contract for another school year. Teachers, parents, students, community and staff are doomed! Don't be mistaken, we parents will not give up the fight to remove Patrick Judd and Sandra Phillips.

(This report appeared as an anonymous comment elsewhere on this blog, but it's so informative regarding both events and attitudes at TAS that I thought it deserved a post of its own. --Maura Larkins)

TAS teachers also want to unionize

The Accelerated School charter teachers seek representation by UTLA

First time that employees of a Los Angeles start-up charter school are seeking union representation.

February 5, 2009 - United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) announced today that it has filed papers with the Public Employees Relations Board (PERB) to represent teachers, counselors and other certificated employees of The Accelerated School (TAS) after teachers approached the union requesting representation. PERB will now process the papers to certify UTLA as the exclusive bargaining representative for the purposes of negotiating a contract and representing TAS employees...

TAS consists of grades pre K-12 at one campus, and a dual-language school for grades K-6, the Accelerated Charter Elementary School (ACES), at a separate location nearby. Approximately 70 teachers, counselors, etc. are employed by the schools...

Email correspondence and a question from a parent at The Accelerated School:

What kind of investigation is this??? The people that were contacted were Johnathan Williams, Co-founder and TAS Board of Trustees Secretary and Sandra Phillips, K-6 Principal. I forgot some happy parents??? What happened to interviewing the TAS Parent Coalition??? This investigation if you can call it that was one sided. ALL LIES! We parents have been asking to see the schools budget, agendas, and minutes but Patrick Judd has not complied with our requests.

T. R. Porter's response to a TAS parent:

From: "Porter, T.R" LAUSD
Sent: Tuesday, March 17, 2009 11:27:13 AM
Subject: RE: concerns at TAS

Dear Mr. Robert Saldaña,

...I, along with staff of the Charter Schools Division, have received your e-mail expressing concerns about the validity of The Accelerated School Charter Renewal Petition... you indicated specific disagreements and concerns with hiring decisions made by The Accelerated Schools’ governing board, regarding Mr. Patrick Judd...

With regards to The Accelerated School ‘s governing board’s decision to hire Mr. Patrick Judd...I am not aware that Mr. Billings benefited, in any way, from his recommendations of Mr. Judd...

I spoke (February 23, 2009), with Mr. Jonathan Williams (TAS Co-founder, Co-Director)... However, if you have continuing doubts concerning this issue, please address these concerns to the TAS governing board, directly.

(Maura Larkins' note: Marvelous idea, Ms. Porter! Mr. Saldana should ask Mr. Billings if Judd was hired as repayment for Judd's hiring Mr. Billings. Perhaps he could also ask if Billings was trying to strengthen his political position on the board. This should set to rest everyone's worries about the appearance of a conflict of interest. Why didn't folks down in Chula Vista think of this? Perhaps Ana Stover wouldn't have had to sue Lowell Billings for the abusive tactics he used to enforce political loyalty, if only she had known about this clever strategy.)

...Should our office... receive information that has the appearance of impropriety, the Charter Schools Division would have the responsibility to consider what follow-up actions were appropriate.

[Maura Larkins' note: You already have information that the hiring has the appearance of impropriety.]

... These minutes document the board’s considerations and actions that changed Mr. Judd’s status from an unpaid volunteer consultant to a paid consultant...

If the scope of Mr. Judd’s responsibilities was unclear at the time he was hired, my understanding is that you now have the organizational chart that clarifies his duties...

My own inquiries to the CSD fiscal staff, regarding payment from TAS to Mr. Judd, did not yield responses that indicated a need for further follow up. In addition, TAS, like other independent charter schools, has autonomy for much of the decision-making regarding payments to their school’s staff.

...Best regards.
t.r. Porter, Ed.D
Coordinator, Charter Schools Division
Phone: 213 241 2665
Fax: 213 241 6862
e-mail address: t.r.Porter@lausd.net

A TAS parent writes to T. R. Porter

February 22, 2009
To: Porter, T.R
Subject: concerns at TAS

Dear Ms. T.R. Porter,

My name is Robert Saldaña; I am a parent of The Accelerated School located on 400 S. Main Street in Los Angeles , California 90037.

Ms. Sandra Phillips, K-6 Principal of The Accelerated School provided me with the draft of our charter petition... but I have some serious concerns as to the validity of the petition... Other parents and I have already voiced our concerns to The Accelerated School Board of Trustees to no avail...

We have probable cause to believe that one of our Board Members Mr. Lowell J. Billings from Chula Vista Elementary School District recommended for hire a former [boss] of his Mr. Patrick Judd to oversee all operations of The Accelerated School, Accelerated Charter Elementary School (ACES), and Wallis Annenberg High School.

...We have requested...Mr. Patrick Judd’s scope-of-work, where the money is coming from to pay his salary, what process was taken to hire him as a consultant, how many other consultants were interviewed, and what was the purpose of hiring Mr. Patrick Judd. We strongly believe the hiring of Mr. Patrick Judd is questionable, a conflict of interest and is unethical.

Parents were informed by Kevin Sved, Co-founder at a parent meeting that Mr. Patrick Judd was hired as a consultant through a leadership grant to create systems for the schools.

Now it is clear that Mr. Patrick Judd was hired and given complete oversight of all the family of schools mentioned above.

This is evident in our schools organizational chart that Mr. Patrick Judd is more than a consultant but in fact he oversees everything.

...According to Mr. Johnathan Williams and Patrick Judd, LAUSD Charter Schools Division has no jurisdiction over our schools because we are an independent charter... it’s apparent that no one is listening to the parents of The Accelerated School...

Robert Saldaña

Thursday, March 19, 2009

An Open Letter to Google regarding complaints about this blog

Dear Googlebot:

I'm writing because you've been looking at the posts listed below, which, I imagine, means that someone complained about them. Apparently bigshots are able to contact you and get my Blogger blogs blocked. I don't know how to contact you, so I'm posting this letter here.

Even though I happen to have a lot of information about education lawyers, I'm going to pretend that I don't. I won't draw any more conclusions based on my first-hand knowledge. I'll cover events as if I were a journalist who had no personal experience of the story I'm investigating,making sure to include links to webpages that contains proof for my statements.

I hope my efforts will make you less likely to submit to the demands of people I've written about.

(1) JPAs, insurance brokers, lawyers

(2) CVESD and Chula Vista Fire Department

(3) Megan Meir bullying case and Lori Drew

(4) GUHSD attorney Dan Shinoff admits to defamation

(5) Peters v. Guajome Park Academy

(6) AIG gets $165 billion, Americans maimed in Iraq get nothing

(7) Robert Melvin Goode, Jr. arrested for child abuse

(8) SDCOE lawyers ask the court to strike Rodger Hartnett's declaration

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

(I imagine Ray Artiano and Leslie Devaney complained about this one; perhaps San Diego County Office of Education-Risk Management executive director Diane Crosier also complained. I notice that you visited this post twice! In fact, these three individuals might have complained about all or most of the preceding posts, as well--except for #7. I don't believe that they have any connection to Mr. Goode.)

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

(11) Admit it, Katherine Nakamura: SDUSD is stuffed to the gills with jelly donuts (about Mark Bresee)

(12) Jaime Mercado, board member of Sweetwater Union High School District (Bertha Lopez)

Yours truly,
Maura Larkins

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Why are Diane Crosier and Dan Puplava and the San Diego County Schools Fringe Benefits Consortium suing the brokers they hired?

See all Dan Puplava posts; all Diane Crosier posts.

I understand that public entities sometimes sue people, but I don't understand why Diane Crosier and Dan Puplava, two highly paid employees of San Diego County Office of Education, are also plaintiffs in the San Diego County Schools Fringe Benefits Consortium's suit against brokers it hired.

The obvious question is this: were these two public employees getting--or expecting to get--kickbacks AS INDIVIDUALS from the public entity's sales? I simply don't see how the brokers could have damaged Diane Crosier and Dan Puplava as individuals UNLESS Crosier and Puplava were expecting more money for themselves.

Over the years I've asked a lot of questions about SDCOE
(San Diego County Office of Education)
and Diane Crosier. Yesterday I asked on this blog,
"What exactly is the relationship between AIG and SDCOE?"

I was delighted to wake up this morning and find that my question had been answered, at least in part, by the San Diego Union Tribune:

County employee also acted as a broker

By Jeff McDonald
San Diego Union-Tribune
March 17, 2009

A San Diego County Office of Education employee tasked with managing a retirement program for thousands of teachers and administrators supplemented his salary for years with commissions on outside investments he sold to those same clients.

Daniel Puplava
makes $100,000 to $108,000 a year as the deferred compensation manager for a consortium that serves public educators in three counties. At the same time, Puplava has been allowed to pursue those clients for his private broker business.

In 2006, Puplava collected at least $355,000 in commissions as a broker for AIG Financial Advisors Inc., according to documents obtained by The San Diego Union-Tribune. He was named to the 2008 Achiever's Council, an honor reserved for agents of AIG Financial Advisors whose commissions and fees exceed $250,000 a year.

His attorney said Puplava shared that money with other brokers.

Officials at the county schools office said they knew about Puplava's broker business and saw no conflict of interest because he has done the work on his own time.

“It's not unheard of for public employees to have a business on the side,” spokesman James Esterbrooks said.

The arrangement does not appear to violate federal securities laws, but it tests the limits of the state education code and has become one of the main sticking points in litigation involving the office.

Puplava's work as a broker also appears to have been done at county offices. Client statements obtained by the Union-Tribune list Puplava's phone number at the county schools office as his primary contact.

“It certainly strikes me as an apparent conflict of interest,” said Ronald F. Duska, director of the Mitchell Center for Ethical Leadership at The American College in Bryn Mawr, Pa. “It just sets up incredible temptations for the guy who's supposed to be acting as a manager.”

Puplava, who is 47 and lives in Escondido, declined to be interviewed. His attorney, Randall Winet, responded to questions with a March 6 letter to the newspaper stating that Puplava has divested himself of his personal clients and received only a portion of the commissions cited in documents.

“The funds from financial services companies were paid directly to him, which he then was required to distribute to a number of brokers working for him,” the letter says.

Winet also said Puplava had “a significant, thriving practice prior to ever joining the County Office of Education.”

Puplava is a registered broker for SagePoint Financial Inc. in Phoenix, which until recently was called AIG Financial Advisors.

His full-time job is to manage the deferred compensation retirement program for the Fringe Benefits Consortium, which provides access to health insurance, annuities and other services for school employees
across San Diego, Riverside and Imperial counties.

The consortium was created in 1982 to help school employees negotiate better deals on health insurance by pooling resources.

Twelve districts representing 2,500 or so teachers initially joined the self-insurance partnership, but the client roster grew to 72,000 as the consortium attracted more districts and expanded its services.

When the Office of Education hired Puplava in 1997, he was permitted to keep his “book of business,” or private clients, county schools officials said.

Puplava also was allowed to grow his client base by soliciting teachers he met through his county job.

Four years after his hiring, the county schools office was among the first agencies in the country to organize an umbrella retirement program for teachers, who as public employees receive government pensions but often supplement those benefits by setting up individual investment accounts.

The idea was to give teachers the opportunity to buy investment products without paying the high fees and commissions normally associated with individual transactions.

[Maura Larkins' note: I was one teacher who was almost fleeced by the consultants who were allowed to come into classrooms in Chula Vista Elementary School District to push their products. Anthony Pavia and James Sanford tricked me, but I got most of my money back. Current CVESD Superintendent Lowell Billings tried to cover-up the hoax.]

Puplava was put in charge of the deferred compensation program. He contracted with outside financial advisers to promote the services, and together they hosted hundreds of informational seminars outlining the various products and services.

About 6,000 teachers and administrators have bought supplemental investment products offered through the deferred compensation program.

Consortium director Diane Crosier
said that after a new superintendent was hired in 2006, a decision was made to allow Puplava to keep existing clients but restrict him from accepting new teachers and educators as customers. But by then, even incoming Superintendent Randolph Ward had bought an annuity from Puplava.

Running an outside business is legal for full-time county Office of Education employees. But according to the California Department of Justice, a deferred compensation program manager is supposed to be a neutral party – not someone who profits from marketing financial products.

“The statute prohibits school employees from acting as sales agents for 403(b) vendors in return for commissions,” according to an August opinion from the Attorney General's Office analyzing the state's education code.

...Former employees and independent advisers say the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigated Puplava's dealings. Crosier said the SEC has looked into Puplava, but that was more than a year ago and nothing has happened.

The San Diego County District Attorney's Office requested copies of related civil case files but closed its investigation in July after finding no evidence of criminal conduct.

[Maura Larkins' note: Now that's a real shocker! Bonnie Dumanis didn't find anything wrong with SDCOE lawyer Dan Shinoff's actions at MiraCosta College, either.]

...In August, the consortium terminated the contracts of six brokers who had been enrolling and serving clients for years. Three weeks later, the schools office sued those brokers, claiming they had stolen clients and business from the consortium.

[Maura Larkins' note: Wait a minute. If SDCOE was truly helping teachers avoid "high fees and commissions," then how could private brokers steal clients? They must have given them a better deal! It sounds like SDCOE was overcharging teachers. Where did all the extra money go, Diane Crosier?]

The brokers fought back, filing a 26-page cross-complaint last month that lodged numerous allegations against Puplava, Crosier and county schools office officials.

Among other things, the cross-complaint says Puplava opened a partnership with three of the fired advisers – Barry Allred, Christopher Dougherty and Michael Zeiger – that operated as FBC Insurance Services.

The partners shared tens of thousands of dollars in fees and commissions paid by FBC clients, the cross-complaint alleges.

Court papers also say Puplava negotiated a deal with Aviva Life and Annuity Co. that paid him 30 percent of all commissions the partnership received from Aviva. In 2006, Puplava personally collected more than $26,000 in Aviva commissions from February to October, the cross-suit says.

Citing the ongoing litigation, Crosier declined to address specific allegations, including why Puplava was permitted to sell his clients financial products not available under the consortium when the fired brokers were sued for the same activity.

...Kris Kertzman, who worked as a consortium broker from 2002 to 2007 but is not part of the pending litigation, said Puplava's clients think he “has their best interests in mind because he works for the county.”

“He's getting paid a salary by the taxpayers to manage the registered representatives, not to be a registered representative,” Kertzman said.

Monday, March 16, 2009

What exactly is the relationship between AIG and SDCOE?

UPDATE: SignOnSanDiego (the Internet version of the San Diego Union Tribune) published an excellent answer less than ten hours after I posted the question, "What exactly is the relationship between AIG and SDCOE?"


I was pleased to learn that $12 billion of AIG's bailout money has been paid to municipalities in California.

This use of the money is certainly better than the shocking payments to AIG's Financial Products, the unit of the company that sold high-risk credit swaps.

I'm still concerned. Public entities in California have been investigated regarding kickbacks from insurance brokers. I know that San Diego County Office of Education (which is suing me for harassment) is insured by AIG. I am asking SDCOE to produce records of all payments to SDCOE and/or its employees by AIG.

The teachers union and democracy

Any time there is an election without a secret ballot, there is no real democracy. California Teachers Association has become very bold in telling teachers what to do. If teachers are put in a position where they have to openly check a box (or refuse to check a box) on cards that are stuck in front of their noses, some of them will surely feel intimidated.

Also, it's time that the president and vice-president of CTA were elected by a secret ballot.

It's a sad comment on the education system when the powerful teachers union doesn't believe that it can rely on its own ability to convey information, and the ability of teachers to make well-reasoned decisions, in order to get teachers to vote for it.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mike Hazelton shows no remorse; he sues school that experienced $170,000 increase in deficit while he was in charge

Charter Guru Files Suit
Voice of San Diego
March 13, 2009

Former charter school administrator Michael R. Hazelton, who I wrote an investigative profile about earlier last year, is suing one of his previous school employers. My story documented how Hazelton led three Southern California schools in four years, each of which has been crippled or closed by the time he walked away, suffering deficits or battling accusations that Hazelton improperly enriched himself or corporations he founded.

In his complaint, Hazelton alleges that Cortez Hill Academy and its director Jacqueline Hicks broke the contract he had with the school, failed to pay him his full wages, inflicted emotional distress and invaded his privacy by allegedly sharing a letter with a parent at another of his schools, Theory Into Practice Academy, in which she "maliciously, unlawfully and for an improper purpose claimed that she, herself, would be filing charges of embezzlement against Plaintiff with the San Diego Police Department." Hazelton alleges that the letter was part of his personnel file and was therefore private.

Hicks was a school principal quoted in my story who said she and her school had been "ripped off" by Hazelton. Auditors of Cortez Hill wrote in 2007 that Hazelton had raised his own salary without board approval, was signing checks alone despite a school policy that required him to get a second signature, and noted that deficits at the school jumped from $16,559 to $188,187 in the single year that Hazelton worked there.

Hazelton alleges that as a result of Hicks sending the letter to the unnamed Theory Into Practice Academy parent, he "has suffered and will continue to suffer the impairment of and damage to his good name and work reputation, substantial loss of earnings and benefits, impairment of his ability to obtain subsequent employment due to the untrue implication that he had committed any illegal acts, as well as humiliation, discomfort, embarrassment and mental and emotional distress."

The suit, filed in late February, seeks more than $25,000 in damages.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Randolph "Randy" Ward and Diane Crosier are using public funds to advance Dan Shinoff's private lawsuit against this blogger

When San Diego County Office of Education-Joint Powers Authority executive director Diane Crosier recently got subpoenaed by me (Maura Larkins) to testify in the defamation lawsuit against me by Stutz, Artiano Shinoff & Holtz, Crosier was determined not to testify. She is the individual who has assigned millions of dollars worth of SDCOE-JPA cases to her friend Stutz lawyer Daniel Shinoff, and she's as loyal as they come.

Crosier wasn't in her office on our first attempt to serve the subpoena, but the secretary in the office assured us that Crosier would be in the next day after 1:30 p.m.

But lo and behold, Ms. Crosier was nowhere to be seen at 1:45 p.m. the next day. "She has a right to change her schedule," the secretary said. (I guess she felt defensive; she must have known that evading a subpoena is against the law.)

Another woman in the office aggressively demanded my name and the name of the server. The woman told me I couldn't serve the subpoena since I was a party in the case. I pointed out to her that I had brought someone else to serve. We left quickly.

Next I got a message from Stutz law firm that Shinoff was representing his benefactor Diane Crosier in the matter, and his office would accept service. My server went to Shinoff's office for a final, successful attempt at service.

Yesterday I got a letter from Stutz attorney Jeffrey Wade saying Crosier would not testify.

Apparently Crosier and her boss, Randolph Ward, are so anxious to help Shinoff shut down my website that they are not only devoting the public resources of SDCOE to Shinoff to prevent Crosier's deposition, but are devoting public resources to harrassing and intimidating me.

They have filed a lawsuit against me for harrassment.

Apparently they think I shouldn't be allowed to serve subpoenas on them. I haven't seen the lawsuit, but it is clearly related to the deposition subpoena served on Diane Crosier. It would seem that one of the labels for this post should be abuse of power, and another should be misuse of taxpayer dollars for private purposes.

It's legally prohibited for public entities to sue for defamation, but Diane Crosier and Randall Ward have found a way to use public resources to advance Stutz law firm's defamation suit against me.

Diane Crosier and Randolph Ward are being sued by SDCOE-JPA insider Rodger Hartnett.

Obama takes on teachers' unions regarding merit pay

Obama eyes sweeping overhaul of education
Jonathan Martin
Mar 10, 2009

...President Barack Obama Tuesday for the first time confronted a powerful constituency in his own party: teachers’ unions.

Obama proposed spending additional money on effective teachers in up to 150 additional school districts, fulfilling a campaign promise that once earned him boos from members of the National Education Association.

“Good teachers will be rewarded with more money for improved student achievement, and asked to accept more responsibilities for lifting up their schools,” he said in a wide-ranging education speech before a meeting of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Washington.

Obama’s embrace of merit pay won’t go over well among a group that often provides key funding and foot soldiers for Democratic campaigns.

Teachers’ unions say merit pay causes teachers to compete against each other, rather than collaborate, and is unfair to those who work in disadvantaged areas where it can be harder to boost student performance.

But polls show the policy is overwhelmingly supported by the public...

In addition to rewarding good teachers, Obama also said he’ll seek to push out those who aren’t getting results, another proposal that may rankle a profession that prizes tenure.

“Let me be clear: if a teacher is given a chance, or two chances, or three chances, and still does not improve, there is no excuse for that person to continue teaching,” he told the business group. “I reject a system that rewards failure and protects a person from its consequences. The stakes are too high. We can afford nothing but the best when it comes to our children’s teachers and to the schools where they teach.”

The White House didn’t specify how the president would like to see poor-performing teachers removed from the classroom.

Obama did lavish praise on the profession – going off script at one point to note that his sister is a teacher...

Instead, Obama confronted the powerful bloc of his own party – one in ten delegates at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 belonged to teachers unions – with unambiguous language.

He said the country had let its “teacher quality fall short” and said reforms were needed as much as the additional funding the unions crave.

“It is time to start rewarding good teachers and stop making excuses for bad ones,” Obama declared.

It wasn’t just teachers, though, that came in for some tough talk. He seemed to also address students and parents in calling for consideration of expanding the school-year into the summer and adopting a calendar that many other industrialized nations already have.

“We can no longer afford an academic calendar designed when America was a nation of farmers who needed their children at home plowing the land at the end of each day,” Obama said...

Notably, Obama said little about No Child Left Behind, the federal education standards set by President George W. Bush that are despised by teachers’ unions...

On Tuesday, he only mentioned it only to say that later this year he would see that it “live[s] up to its name by ensuring not only that teachers and principals get the funding they need, but that the money is tied to results.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Should coaches focus on winning, or about helping kids through sports?

March 8, 2002
Vista School District Strikes Out with Family:
Baseball Program Gets Oversight Committee
By Yvette tenBerge

In March 2001, after a heated exchange with his coach during the fifth inning of a game, Isaias "Ziggy" Luna was kicked off Vista High School's junior-varsity baseball team. Unlike most families who find themselves in this situation, the Luna's fought back...

When their elder son, Ziggy, began playing baseball at Vista High, though, the Luna's realized that they were in the middle of a system that revolved less around a simple love for the game and more around politics. After a year-long battle, their complaint has resulted in the Vista Unified School District's (VUSD) creation of a still unnamed committee whose job it will be to "clarify codes of conduct and procedures of discipline" for both students-athletes and coaches.

At a February 28 meeting, almost one year after Ziggy, now 17, was ousted from the team, the VUSD board voted to establish this committee, which will be made up of athletic directors, coaches and parents. Its job will be to ensure that the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) rules are followed. These rules are based on the premise that "the essential elements of character-building are embodied in the concept of sportsmanship and its six core ethical values: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and good citizenship." The district hopes to have it up and running by the fall of 2002.

Although her son, Ziggy, was unable to benefit from the counsel of such a committee, Ms. Luna, 38, calls it's founding "promising."

...March 22 Incident

A May 28, 2001 letter from Ziggy's parents to the Superintendent of VUSD, David Cowles, outlines an incident that occurred on March 22 during a baseball game between Vista and Orange Glen High Schools. Ziggy attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt - a common strategy that allows a runner to be advanced into a scoring position - but struck out in the process.

The letter states that the coach, Paul Frey, "went completely out of control," yelling, "Jesus Christ, can't you even execute a bunt?" The letter continues, saying that the coach was "waiving his hands in the air ... kicking the dirt ... and stomp[ing] around the third base box." Ziggy proceeded to "toss his helmet into the dug out" and say, "That's not the way you play baseball." At that point, the letter alleges that the coach left the third base box to scream at Ziggy while standing only inches from his face. Parents and players from both teams witnessed the outburst.

At the parent's request, a meeting was held on March 23 with Varsity Baseball Coach Rick Lepire, Vice Principal Dan Paquette and Athletic Director Pat Moramarco. According to Ms. Luna, she and her husband informed these men that they would be filing a complaint against Paul Frey for "verbal abuse perpetrated to their son during a school sponsored activity." The vice principal agreed to get Ziggy's "point of view," and stated that he would call the parents later. Within four days of the March 22 incident, Ziggy Luna, an 11th grader who had played baseball since he was five years old, was kicked off of the team.

"I love baseball; it was life to me, and it made me happy. They took this all away from me," says Ziggy, who admits that it "really hurt" when the coaches and administrators did not believe his version of the incident. "It seemed that they wanted to help out their staff, rather than listen to a student. That's not the way you treat kids."

Ziggy, a high school senior who plans to continue with baseball and study architecture, gets to the root of what he feels is really wrong with coaching at the high school level. "Baseball is supposed to be about developing the kids and about having fun. With Coach Frey, it felt like a job," says Ziggy. "These coaches are taking it overboard."

Mr. Frey, now a teacher at Lake Elsinore High School, left Vista High after the 2001 school year to accept a "better position to teach and coach another sport." He is hesitant to discuss the complaint, but points to the "thorough investigation done by both site and district administration," which resulted in the punishment of only the player.

According to a February 2002 Union-Tribune article, though, the Luna complaint did not reach the school board until July 2001. Since Mr. Frey had already left the district, the board "did not determine whether the coach was at fault."

...In most instances, complaints such as the one filed by the Luna's die out when parents try to navigate district channels...

At the February 28 board meeting, though, the politics involved in the VUSD system made itself glaringly obvious. The Vista Teacher's Association claimed that Dr. Guffanti pressured then Principal Graeff, who now works for the Ramona Unified School District, to fire the varsity coach. The teacher's union also alleged that Dr. Guffanti overstepped his bounds by procuring an "un-earned" certificate for an athlete...

Vista Unified School District holds a tense board meeting regarding Lindamood-Bell and teacher union influence

The North County Times is to be appreciated for its coverage of school issues in north county that the San Diego Union Tribune doesn't cover. I'm not sure if the SDUT is simply not interested in the issues, or if it wants to protect school officials from embarrassment.

But the NCT article about last Thursday's Vista Unified School District (VUSD) board meeting doesn't mention that school attorney Daniel Shinoff made a rare appearance at the open session, sitting with the board until late at night (about 11:30 p.m.). Perhaps Mr. Shinoff and his supporters wanted to prove that he's not cowering in shame after the recent Voice of San Diego article about him. (It's too bad the taxpayers have to pay so much for his time if it was just a publicity stunt.) On the other hand, perhaps the board wanted him to be there to defend them from angry parents.

The article below fails to mention the fact that a large number of parents were at the meeting to voice their concern about an issue other than class size: the Lindamood-Bell program.

Many parents want the Lindamood-Bell program to continue, but the teachers union and parents of advanced students want to get rid of it. It seems that teachers don't want to do the training for the program, and neither do they want people who have done the training--but do not have teaching credentials--operating the program. Many parents object to the district's turning down a large federal grant for Lindamood-Bell, particularly since the program is designed to help students with problems in reading and English learners.

VISTA: Complaint alleges 3 school board trustees held secret meeting
Trio says they didn't violate state law
North County Times
March 6, 2009

VISTA ---- A complaint filed Friday accuses three Vista Unified School District trustees of violating state open meetings laws, then voting to reverse an earlier board decision to increase class sizes.

The accusation came to light Thursday when Trustee Jim Gibson questioned whether three of his fellow board members ---- Carol Herrera, Elizabeth Jaka and Angela Chunka ---- met privately a week earlier with teachers union leaders to discuss the issue.

Gibson said the private meeting took place just after the Vista school board held its public meeting Feb. 26 and voted the first time on the class-size proposal. The board's approval of the plan meant that as many as 120 teachers would be laid off.

The three trustees said they were at Herrera's home after the meeting, but did not discuss the vote. Herrera said that she left the room when the other two arrived, realizing it would be a violation of state law to talk about district business.

"I knew that it was inappropriate, if only by perception and appearance," she said Friday.

Silvia Peters, a community activist who frequents Vista Unified meetings, filed the complaint Friday with the district board. She threatened to take the matter to court if the board didn't resolve it within 30 days.

"This kind of stuff has got to stop," Peters said Friday. "What they're doing is limiting public participation."

Peter Scheer, executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition, said the get-together wouldn't violate the state's open meeting law, known as the Ralph M. Brown Act, unless the three trustees discussed district matters...

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Workers illegally obtained records of Joe the plumber

'Joe the Plumber' sues 3 in database inquiry

The Toledo man claims damages from an illegal search of confidential state information during presidential campaign.
The Western Star
By William Hershey and Jessica Wehrman
March 06, 2009

WASHINGTON — "Joe the Plumber" is suing three employees of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services — including a local woman — accusing them of illegally accessing his confidential information using state databases.

Clayton native Helen Jones-Kelley, the former director of the department, is among the three ODJFS employees that "Joe," otherwise known as Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, has sued.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Columbus on Thursday, March 5, charged that Jones-Kelley and employees Fred Williams and Doug Thompson improperly searched "confidential state databases" to retaliate against Wurzelbacher for criticizing then-presidential candidate Barack Obama. Their actions "are sufficient to chill or silence a person of ordinary firmness from future First Amendment activities," the lawsuit said.

The three also violated Wurzelbacher's right to privacy, the lawsuit added. Wurzelbacher has "suffered substantial damages, including emotional distress, harassment, personal humiliation and embarrassment," the lawsuit said...

Monday, March 02, 2009

Teachers with masters degrees are no better, and possibly worse, than other teachers

EdWeek on Charter School Hiring
Voice of San Diego
March 2, 2009

If you were intrigued by my recent article on the teacher hiring process at High Tech High, take a look at this article from Education Week about how charter school staffing differs from staffing in traditional public schools.

The article cites a study that shows that charter school teachers are less likely to be certified and less likely to have master's degrees than their counterparts in traditional public schools. Charter school teachers, however, were more likely to have undergraduate degrees from top colleges.

But research is raising new questions, the story states, about whether those qualifications matter:

What that research has shown so far is that some seemingly important teacher qualifications, such as having a master's degree, can actually have little, or even a slightly negative, impact on student achievement.

Charters Seen as Lab for Report's Ideas on Teachers
Differences in staffing practices at charter and traditional public schools attract scholars’ interest.
Education Week
February 23, 2009
By Debra Viadero

Devoting an entire section to the issue of teacher quality, the landmark 1983 report A Nation at Risk laid out seven recommendations for staffing practices aimed at ensuring that “superior teachers can be rewarded, average ones encouraged, and poor ones either improved or terminated.”

Charter schools—unfettered by some of the bureaucratic constraints of traditional public schools—are theoretically in a good position to use just the sorts of tactics the report’s authors thought were needed for hiring and maintaining a high-quality teaching staff. Charter administrators are often freer to fire subpar teachers, for instance, or offer higher pay to job candidates with greater subject-matter expertise.

Yet whether that freedom has translated to a better-quality teaching force for charter schools remains an open, and...

Korbel Sues Anonymous Craigslist Critics, Demands Comcast Identify the Users

Fastcase - Accelerated Legal Research
February 24, 2009

Last year, Korbel (yes, the champagne-maker) sued anonymous Craigslist posters for defamation. The posts accused Korbel of retaliating against employees who reported sexual harassment, alleged that Korbel was scheming to cut down redwood forests on its Guerneville property, and reported that Korbel bribed law enforcement officials. Korbel contends that these charges are false and have damaged the company's reputation - it is seeking an injunction and resulting unspecified damages.

Now, Korbel heading to court in Sonoma County to force Comcast, the internet provider, to turn over posters' names. Comcast may comply with the order - as long as they have time to notify the users first. (By the way, Craigslist reserves the right to release its users' Internet addresses in court cases). Commentators call this the "latest twist" in a case set to test the limits of free speech on the Internet.

Source: Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Who blanked this blog yesterday?

Peg Myers is facing an election in May as President of Chula Vista Educators.

I woke up yesterday morning and found all the posts missing from this blog.

Who could have done it?

Someone seems to have gotten really angry about the last article I published before my blog went blank; it concerned the deposition of Chula Vista Educators President Peg Myers.

I have a prime suspect.

By looking at the IP addresses of computers that hit my site, I know that the first person who looked at the Peg Myers story (on Saturday morning, March 1) was also the last person who saw it in the earlier hours of the next morning, at 12:21 a.m. on Sunday, just before the blog went blank.

Interestingly, this person was using the same computer as the anonymous person who posted this comment just a few days ago:

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness for the perseverance of the attorneys in Shinoff's firm...some day this crazy nonsensical web site will come down!

This angry visitor also looked at all four pages of Peg Myers deposition in my San Diego Education Report website--twice. No one else came close to that level of interest.

A witness told me that Peg Myers used the word "crazy" to refer to me. Putting all the information together, I am suspecting Peg Myers, who is facing an election in May if she is to continue as President of Chula Vista Educators. It's perfectly understandable that Myers wouldn't want her deposition to be exposed during a campaign. It should be noted that Peg Myers was one of the celebrated "Castle Park Five."

I know that California Teachers Association protects sitting presidents of CTA locals, and that CTA information has previously disappeared from my website.

This is the information I have about the anonymous visitor:

IP Address
Cox Communications
United States
Chula Vista
Time of Visit Mar 1 2009 12:21:31 am
Visit Length 10 minutes 6 seconds
Page Views 2
Time Zone UTC-8:00

Sunday, March 01, 2009

My Blog Is Back!

I'm pleased that my blog is back on. For half a day anyone who went to my homepage saw that all the posts were missing.

School districts get grant to fund expert teachers

December 9, 2008

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell has announced that 11 local school districts and a charter school will receive grants to pay expert teachers who work in low-scoring schools.

The teachers get the expert designation from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards as a result of intensive study and peer review. The board's incentive program awards $5,000 a year for four years to expert teachers who agree to work as peer coaches or in other leadership positions in schools with low test scores.

Recipients of the grants announced last week include: Chula Vista Elementary School District, $35,000; Darnall E-Charter School, $5,000; Escondido Union School District, $5,000; Fallbrook Union High School District, $5,000; Grossmont Union High School District, $15,000;

La Mesa-Spring Valley School District, $5,000; Lemon Grove School District, $10,000; Oceanside Unified School District, $45,000; San Diego Unified School District, $145,000; San Ysidro School District, $10,000; Sweetwater Union High School District, $45,000; and Vista Unified School District, $20,000. –C.M.

Is this CTA official completely incompetent--or is she committing perjury?

Gina Boyd, former president of Chula Vista Educators, an affiliate of California Teachers Association, gave some bizarre responses to deposition questions by Chula Vista Elementary School District teacher Maura Larkins. Maura Larkins was removed from her position at Castle Park Elementary when Assistant Superintendent Rick Werlin claim that he'd received Saturday night phone calls in which two anonymous teachers claimed that they feared Larkins would kill them. The school district never investigated the matter.

Why did Ms. Boyd hide the truth? The only motivations I can think of are that she wanted to get reelected, and to protect her friend Robin Donlan and other members of the Castle Park Five.

[Page 79 10:17:36 Maura Larkins:]

Were you curious as to what my behavior might have been that caused them to fear for their lives?

[Gina Boyd:]

(long pause...) I guess...I don't know...

[Maura Larkins 10:18:20:]

You weren't drivingly curious as to why teachers were concerned that another teacher might kill them?

[Stutz law firm Atty. Kelly Angell:]

Objection. Asked and answered.

[Maura Larkins 10:19:]

...Were you curious about it--the results of his investigation?

I don't know whether he ever completed it, frankly.

Q. Did you ask him?

A. No.


Q. Were you concerned about the safety of teachers at Castle Park?

A. I'm concerned about the safety of all my teachers...


Did any teacher ever tell you that he or she feared that I might kill him or her?


[Page 81, line 19]

...Did you believe that I had behaved in a manner that threatened the lives of others?


Did you think these two people had lied?