Thursday, August 05, 2010

Why the $82,0000 pay overlap at CVESD? And why is the SDUT suddenly interested in conflicts of interest at CVESD?

See all Francisco Escobedo posts.

I have two questions:

1. Who is the mystery person that the San Diego Union Tribune editor Don Sevrens seems to want as superintendent of Chula Vista Elementary School District? My guess: Dennis Doyle, who was ousted as superintendent of National School District.

2. Why did the CVESD board design the bizarre $82,000 overlap between the administrations of current CVESD superintendent Lowell Billings and his replacement Francisco Escobedo? Why on earth would public officials want to waste all this money?

I suspect the board wants the new superintendent to continue business as usual in the backrooms of the district, just as Lowell Billings did when he replaced Liba Gil. The board doesn't want the new guy to find out about past wrongdoing and suddenly say, "We're not going to squander money on covering-up wrongdoing anymore."

So how do you get a clean guy to agree to a culture of secrecy? You taint him by giving him a title for a few months without giving him real authority. That way, he's partially responsible for actions taken by Lowell Billings does during the four-month overlap period. Also, it will give Lowell Billings plenty of time to indoctrinate Escobedo into the CVESD culture.

UPDATE AUGUST 7, 2010: I've thought of another reason for the overlap. Maybe Lowell Billings wanted time to look for another job before the end of his tenure. Perhaps he is the anonymous person who interviewed for the CEO job a few days ago at the Accelerated School (TAS) in Los Angeles. Lowell Billings is a board member at TAS. Billings hired his boss, CVESD board member Pat Judd, for the CEO job at TAS about a year or two ago, but that didn't work out and the school is now without a top administrator. Now that would be something: a board member hiring himself as top administrator!

Why didn't Joanne Marugg complain when Lowell Billings was promoted without a search? Why hasn't she complained about the use of public resources for political purposes at CVESD?

Perhaps Joanne Marugg has a conflict of interest in this matter. Who is the "highly qualified" person she feels was left out in the cold? Why doesn't the San Diego Union Tribune provide this information? Is SDUT editor Don Sevrens, who published a long line of misleading stories about the "Castle Park Five," once again trying to use the San Diego Union-Tribune (and Marugg) to manipulate Chula Vista Elementary School District? Who is the person you want as CVESD superintendent, Mr. Sevrens?

Since Joanne Marugg has brought up the issue of a "web of connections," it's interesting to note that Ms. Marugg is listed in Mayor Cheryl Cox's list of endorsements. Cheryl Cox was a trustee of CVESD before she became major, and she most certainly wants the cover-ups to continue at CVESD. Would the mystery candidate do a better job of covering up wrongdoing?

Martin & Joanne Marugg

[Note to Ashly McGlone: If you want to develop a reputation for journalistic ethics, you need to do an addendum to this story regarding the hiring of former CVESD board member Patrick Judd as executive director at The Accelerated School by his employee Lowell Billings. You need to ask why Patrick Judd did not then recuse himself from decisions about Lowell Billings' employment at CVESD.]


Link to San Diego Union-Tribune story (with all the nasty comments)

Search committee had Escobedo subordinates
Two members of superintendent selection group are employees of the sole finalist
San Diego Union-Tribune
By Ashly McGlone
August 4, 2010

...Joanne Marugg, 70, of Alpine, is concerned about the web of connections, given that the public was not informed about them until The Watchdog report. Marugg taught in the district for 40 years, most recently at Mueller Charter School 10 years ago. She said she and her retired colleagues were outraged to learn about the relationships between Escobedo and the search committee members.

Marugg said she knows one of the candidates who was left out in the cold and says he was highly qualified.

“You’d like to see the district knowing that another person that was a qualified candidate was considered,” she said. “It just seems like this got punched through. This isn’t right.”

According to a timeline posted on the district website, the new superintendent will start work in September, but Billings won’t actually depart until the end of December.

The pay for the new superintendent has not been set, but Billings is paid $247,000 a year. At that rate, he would be paid $82,000 to serve concurrently with his replacement...

[Maura Larkins' comment: Funny, the SDUT never breathed a word about Lowell Billings and CVESD board member Patrick Judd when they were each other's boss at different school districts. Judd was hired as Executive Director of The Accelerated School in Los Angeles, where Lowell Billings was a board member. Will the SDUT at long last make up for this lapse in news coverage now that this issue has been deemed newsworthy?]

When CVESD trustee Patrick Judd retired as superintendent of Mountain Empire Unified School District (after several months on leave, without ever saying why he was on leave except that it was not sick leave), he looked for a job for quite a while. School districts all over the state did searches for him for a long time. I know this because I saw the visits to my site on my web logs. I imagine they did this because he applied for jobs. Apparently he couldn’t find a job, so his pal Lowell Billings got him a job at the Accelerated School, where Billings is a board member.


Anonymous said...

CVESD superintendent Francisco Escobedo does not have the schools focused on student achievement. Look for a dramatic drop in the gains from previous years API scores. Especially from schools like Hendenkamp and Mueller.

Maura Larkins said...

I'm curious. Why do you say that?

Also, I want to say that I believe that Lowell Billings accomplished some things in his last months that the new superintendent could not do. I noticed that at least two employees who had sabotaged student learning retired at the same time as Billings. I'm thinking Billings may have encouraged them on their way out. Good job, Lowell.