Sunday, June 26, 2011

You gotta be kidding me--Ed Brand is the replacement for Sweetwater HSD's Jesus Gandara

Has Sweetwater Union High School District gone from the frying pan into the fire and then back again? It looks to me like the SUHSD board wasn't acting on principles, but on politics, when it got rid of Superintendent Jesus Gandara and replaced him with the highly questionable Ed Brand.

In the past I criticized Ed Brand's stewardship of the legal committee for San Diego County Office of Education--Joint Powers Authority:

A culture of secrecy is not appropriate for a public entity.

Superintendents like Ed Brand should not oversee SDCOE lawyers.

We are putting the fox in charge of the hen house at SDCOE. The taxpayers have to keep paying and paying, while Ed Brand Tom Anthony ignore the law.

Ed Brand's secret strategies for avoiding compliance with legal requirements for spending taxpayer dollars were revealed in the Mary Anne Weegar Case.

See Jesus Gandara posts.

Brand pushed college prep at Sweetwater
By Aaron Burgin
June 23, 2011

The Sweetwater Union High School District turned to a trusted hand to replace ousted leader Jesus Gandara — Ed Brand, the very man Gandara replaced five years ago.

The Watchdog set out to review Brand’s record and found a career full of triumphs, notably in pushing for college preparation at the Sweetwater district and forging a clear path for students to San Diego State University.

Brand was named superintendent of the year by three organizations as Sweetwater’s chief from 1995 to 2005.

He also had his problems — one of them reminiscent of Gandara, who was fired Tuesday after months of revelations by The Watchdog. Brand took heat at the end of his tenure for his spending on a district credit card.

Bonita Vista High’s student newspaper, The Crusader, reported in 2005 that Brand racked up nearly $60,000 over five years, at restaurants such as Bob’s on the Bay, La Costa Azul, Peohe’s and Benihana. In one case, he charged $600 in smoothies.

The Watchdog uncovered similar spending by Gandara on the district’s card, even though he was paid an $800 monthly allowance for such expenses.

School board members — and Brand himself — said spending was more free for all school district back then. They say such spending would be inappropriate now, and the terms of his $20,000 monthly contract are strict.

“No expense account, no car allowance,” board President John McCann said. “It’s basically no frills. We have canceled all the credit cards in the entire district.”

Brand said, “Did I have a credit card? Yes. Did I use it? Absolutely. But as I told the board, ‘You are going to pay me a salary, I am paying for (my expenses) out of my salary. Nothing is going to be hidden from the public.’”

Sweetwater trustees unanimously selected Brand on Wednesday to serve as interim superintendent during a search for a permanent replacement. Gandara was hired in 2006 after Brand left Sweetwater to take the lead at San Marcos Unified.

In addition to the credit cards, Brand’s tenure at Sweetwater had other controversies.

A school assistant principal criticized Brand in 2002 for a districtwide contract with a class-ring vendor that was not the lowest bidder.

The county grand jury in 2003 faulted Sweetwater for not being able to complete renovations promised in a $187 million bond measure. The group questioned why the district built gyms before renovating classrooms at two high schools.

“Anytime you are a superintendent of a large urban or suburban district, you have lots of opportunity to make friends, but you also make decisions that will cause certain people angst,” Brand said. “And those people might develop feelings of anger and distrust at times. It isn’t a question of if it will happen, but of when.”

Brand, 57, lives in Escondido and had retired. He is a former Sweetwater science teacher and coach. The district during his tenure increased the number of Advanced Placement courses and several schools achieved major academic gains.

Brand’s hallmark achievement was the Compact for Success. The pact between Sweetwater and San Diego State, which began in 2001, was hailed as a bold way to increase the flagging college enrollment of Sweetwater graduates. More than 1,280 students were admitted to San Diego State under the program from its launch in 2006 through fall 2010.

“It has proven to be a very successful program,” said Lou Murillo, the program’s director.

Brand started a similar program at San Marcos Unified with Cal State San Marcos.

Brand left Sweetwater on his own terms in 2005, and resigned after a little more than a year at San Marcos.

Former San Marcos board member Mary Borevitz, one of three members to accept Brand’s resignation, said he was not a good fit...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ed will be there with his good buddy and fellow crony Tom Hassey. They are thick as thieves when it comes to insider deals that only benefit them. Ed just lost $3.5 million for a Bank Group organizing in San Diego of which Hassey made him Chairman. Get out your bumper stickers "You Can't Fix Stupid".