Monday, May 10, 2010

A secret panel is working to name Grossmont Union's new high school

I'm not concerned about the name of a school, but the political shenanigans engaged in by the board of Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD) are a clear indicator of how little this board cares about education. The antics of Jim Kelly certainly throw the effort to destroy Helix High into a new light.

What’s in a name? East County school fight diverts attention from education
San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial
May 9, 2010

It’s a secret that East County’s high school district evidently would prefer you didn’t know – the names of politicians on an advisory panel to help the public name a school coming to Alpine in 2013.

The Grossmont Union High School District, pushed by trustee Jim Kelly, tried to name the unbuilt school he has consistently opposed after Ronald Reagan, though policy suggested the name should carry local geographic significance. The naming maneuver prompted a backlash and Grossmont Union opted to come up with a “public” panel.

The public doesn’t need to know who represents it, apparently. This editorial page was told to file a public records request.

[GUHSD lawyer Dan Shinoff seems to regularly advise his public entity clients not to release public records.]

Here are the 10 panelists – two chosen by each trustee – that we gleaned from other sources:

•Ron Nehring, chairman of the California Republican Party, who was appointed and served briefly on the Grossmont board. Famously, he and Kelly once held a news conference to announce that all district high schools would become charter schools.

•Duncan Hunter Sr. of Alpine, the Republican who retired after 14 terms in Congress. Hunter was swept into office in 1980 on the Ronald Reagan wave.

•Bob Watkins, an Alpine resident, businessman and a member of the county Board of Education from 2003-08 until he ran for the Republican nomination in the 52nd Congressional District.

•Jennifer Martinez, a business owner who won a seat on the Alpine Planning Group in 2008.

•Doug Deane, Alpine resident, president of DSD Business Systems, and a board member of the East County Chamber of Commerce.

•Leona Bennett, an Alpine resident who helped collect more than 300 signatures asking that the community be allowed to name its school.

•Mark Price, Alpine school board member and a driving force in winning support for a second school bond to make the Alpine school possible. It was a school bond that trustee Kelly actually campaigned against.

•Steve Hunyar, Alpine resident, president of a software company and a nonprofit drug education and awareness organization, and a former Alpine school board member.

•Louis Russo, a high schoolteacher, member of the Alpine planning group, and a Republican who also has run for school board and fire protection district.

•Sylvia Sullivan of La Mesa, who owns a bookkeeping business, is a former spokeswoman for Operation Rescue in San Diego and a member of the Republican Central Committee.

No matter where you are on the political spectrum, it is clear these are politicians, former politicians or politically experienced people. When the exercise, or charade, is finished, some observers expect an 8-2 vote for Ronald Reagan High School.

The Grossmont Union board has been preoccupied the past 15 months in a Kelly-led feud with Helix Charter High School, each side losing its superintendent in the process...

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