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One day after buying out departing superintendent Jesus Gandara’s contract, the Sweetwater Union High School District board chose Ed Brand to serve as interim superintendent, paying him $20,000 a month.

Brand served as Sweetwater’s superintendent for 11 years before leaving in 2005 to become superintendent of the San Marcos Unified School District. In a little over a year, the district bought out Brand’s contract for $397,884.53.

Brand’s claim to fame in Sweetwater was Compact for Success, which guarantees admission to San Diego State for students with a B average. From 2006 to 2010, the program transferred 1280 students.

About 6000 students graduate from Sweetwater Union’s schools each year, according to the California Department of Education's educational demographics office. Brand attempted to launch a similar program in San Marcos, but trustees were reluctant to fund a coordinator’s position for Partnership for Success.

In October 2006, following Brand’s departure, the North County Times reported, “He [Brand] is now working pro bono for Bill and Carol Stensrud of Poway as a lobbyist and coordinator for the Partnership for Success…”

A 2007 501(c)3 tax form shows that Brand and Barry Dragon (Sweetwater’s former chief financial officer) were officers in the newly founded Partnership for Success. Brand’s salary was $80,000.

In 2007, Partnership for Success gave $1500 to the Sweetwater Education Foundation. Scott Himelstein was a Sweetwater foundation director. According to a 2006 Union-Tribune story, another reason behind Brand’s sudden departure from San Marcos was that Brand ignored a district hiring committee’s recommendations and gave Himelstein’s wife a teaching contract.

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SurfPuppy619 July 9, 2011 @ 6:19 p.m.

Brand attempted to launch a similar program in San Marcos, but trustees were reluctant to fund a coordinator’s position for Partnership for Success.

Brand got canned from San Marcos for trying to get one of his cronies hired as a K-6 teacher, and the school district trustees told him that cronyism is not how things worked in San Marcos.

Brand was a decent manager at SUHSD, but he has the same problem nearly all gov employees have, they are not held to the same standard a private businbess is held to and could never ever succeed in the real world using their substandard gov ethics ot responsibilities.

I persoanlly had some problems at SUHSD and Brand's handling of that matter was typical for a gov employee-sunstandard and verging on patheic with no accountability- and that is exactly how he ended up gettign canned in San Marcos

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Visduh July 9, 2011 @ 7:42 p.m.

Brand's "career" started off with a single year as a teacher, and that wasn't even in a classroom. He spent that sole year as a PE teacher. (If you know of him, and his obesity, that is most amazing. PE is all about fitness, and he's nothing anyone should want to present as a specimen of fitness.) He then moved into counseling, which is the first rung of the administration ladder and climbed all the way to superintendent. It seems that once these turkeys get into the admin ranks they have smooth sailing as far as getting job after job after job for which they lack the most elemental skills.

Brand seized upon this hookup with the CSU system to make himself look good. As to whether it actually helps local students succeed in college is unclear.

More recently Brand has been operating some program at CSU, San Marcos that has to do with training teachers. But as soon as this opportunity to take over at Sweetwater at $20K a month, he was johnny-on-the-spot ready to grab it. What happens to the job he had with CSUSM?

Brand is the epitome of what is wrong with the public education system and its management. Jerks like him end up with quarter million salaries, and they couldn't manage a supermarket, let alone a school district.

Susan, thanks so much for keeping some attention on that miserable school district and the yo-yo's in charge. If you can get something on this website once a month, there might be some reform there. The last thing needed is for that district to go back to the same old, same old way of doing things. And Brand is just that. Again, thanks so much.

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SurfPuppy619 July 9, 2011 @ 11:52 p.m.

Brand is the epitome of what is wrong with the public education system and its management. Jerks like him end up with quarter million salaries, and they couldn't manage a supermarket, let alone a school district.

================== I agree with this 100%.

I have to laugh at one of the funniest education job interviews I ever had. It was @John Muir Middle School in LA, on Vermont Ave and Slauson-which is a very rough area, very dangerous area.

The principal, who had a EdD degree, was without a doubt one of the biggest morons I have ever seen in any school, in any industry, in any employment situation. She was so unorganized and dumb it was amazing she could have ever been APPOINTEED to be a principal. She would not last 1 week in the private sector. Biggest airhead I have ever met in any job. Anywhere. Incompetent like nothing you have ever seen.

So I go there for an interview 4 or 5 days before the school year starts, and this is in the ghetto, the worst area you coud imgaine, and in this ghetto the PARENTS of this school, the poorest of the poor, were PICKETING to have this principal removed, PICKETING before the shcool year even started, from the poorest of the poor-but even they knew she had no business running that shcool. UNfriggen believable! She had NO BUSINESS being in ANY position in education. She was simply incpompetent like nothing I have ever seen.

That someone like her could be runninhg a school with an annual budget of several million dollars is just beyond crazy. LAUSD yanked her. They had to. Too much heat was coming-it was hilarious because the news media covered this and it was the same day I was interviewing.

That is gov employment for you. It is not a merit based system. It is socialistic in nature where the incompetent-but connected- employees thrive, and that is why socialism does not work. Including education and gov.It is not merit based.

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Visduh July 10, 2011 @ 6:52 p.m.

Hmmm. I had a teaching interview at Gompers back in the 90's with a principal who had a "wonderful" reputation. She may have had an EdDoc degree, too. In fact, I remember that she did--from USIU. A very nice, warm nincompoop. She was the one who took a good situation at that magnet school and turned it into a disaster.

Now, SurfPup, you didn't REALLY have a teaching interview in So Central LA, did you? Not at that school! If you wanted to pick a spot with more teacher stress, you couldn't do better (meaning worse) than that. Tell us you made that up.

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SurfPuppy619 July 11, 2011 @ 9:39 a.m.

No, totally true.

LAUSD was willing me to let me finish my teaching credntial as I worked, since it was only 50% finshed at the time, which would have lasted the first semester covering the "student teaching" portion, at the school. I would have enjoyed it, I know I would have.

But I am smart, have common sense and do what it takes to get the job done-which pretty much DQed me for that and every other gov job!

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VigilantinCV July 9, 2011 @ 8:31 p.m.

Very discouraging! We may have simply exchanged one despot for another. Isn't there anyone out there who will just run the schools, who will resist ordering friends' wives to be hired or indulge in other favors to his rich and powerful cronies? Will he also try to control who wins board seats in the next election? What we don't need is another power hungry bully.

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Radical Uterus July 11, 2011 @ 11:27 a.m.

Un freakin believeable.Twenty grand a month. Very, very discouraging.

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Susan Luzzaro July 10, 2011 @ 8:21 a.m.

Brand seized upon this hookup with the CSU system to make himself look good. As to whether it actually helps local students succeed in college is unclear.

Thanks for the good words Visduh. And your point interests me. I could only put the number of graduates vs the number going into the program. An interesting question seems, how many students from Sweetwater would go to SDSU anyway?

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joepublic July 10, 2011 @ 11:17 a.m.

What was the Sweetwater school board thinking? I'm surprised they didn't hire Raj Chopra to clean things up! What Sweetwater doesn't need is another self-serving bureaucrat known for doing favors for rich friends. In light of our economic crisis and its devastating effect on the school district's budget, shouldn't they be forced to conduct district business with the staff of administrators that they already have? Shouldn't there be a back-up plan to run the district in the absence of the Superintendent? Sometimes I wonder just how much students' education would suffer if we didnt have a full-time superintendent at all? As it stands we're presently paying for two, one not to work, and the other $20,000 a month to substitute.

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Visduh July 10, 2011 @ 6:46 p.m.

You are right on the money! Raj Chopra would have been the choice. Why didn't they think of him? Maybe they were guilty of age discrimination. Isn't he in his 70's? Why, he could make a total mess of the big mess he inherited. Isn't that poetic justice?

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eastlaker July 10, 2011 @ 2:39 p.m.

Those of us who have connections with SUHSD have been hoping that Ed Brand would start the clean-up and stop the reign of terror that was Jesus Gandara's legacy. Looks like we will have to redouble our efforts to ensure that an honest administration can be ours.

Seriously, we don't want anyone hiding the truth from us, even if--especially if--it is ugly. We want the whole thing blown open so that it can be examined, cleaned up and corrected. Thanks to all who value integrity over corruption, we need you!

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SurfPuppy619 July 11, 2011 @ 9:41 a.m.

Seriously, we don't want anyone hiding the truth from us, even if--especially if--it is ugly. We want the whole thing blown open so that it can be examined, cleaned up and corrected

Then you're in the wrong line of work-all gov does is hide the ball.

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JohnEQuest July 10, 2011 @ 2:46 p.m.

I suspect the unanimous sentiments of caution and frustration in these comments thus far are valid, but the Compact For Success program should be received gratefully. Perhaps it's the only significant achievement from that past reign, but excess has to be carefully watched, Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater etc.

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eastlaker July 10, 2011 @ 6:22 p.m.

I am certainly not aware of anyone from SUHSD wanting to eliminate the Compact for Success program. We are interested in learning more about the progress of students who were accepted because of the program, vs. the progress of students accepted through regular admissions.

It was said that apparently some of the students accepted were in need of some remedial help, and on that basis some changes were made in the curriculum to strengthen critical reading and writing skills.

For the more solid students, Compact for Success is certainly always good as a fallback position; I personally think the real help it gives is for AVID students and others who benefit from the reasurrance that if they complete all the requirements, they do not need to worry about arbitrarily being rejected.

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VigilantinCV July 10, 2011 @ 8:37 p.m.

Can someone tell me the correlation between Compact for Success and Sweetwater Education Foundation? Scott Alevy was/is Chairman of SEF. A couple of months ago I heard the rumor that Alevy had pressed for a scholarship for his son. CIting privacy laws no one would confirm or deny. So, how does the public ever know who is getting these scholarships or are they just being doled out to cronies and insiders?

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eastlaker July 11, 2011 @ 9:09 a.m.

You have raised some very good questions. The reputable foundations that support students in their quest for further education make public presentations at the various high schools. What high school did Alevy's son attend? The school should have a record of the scholarships awarded to all the students. It might even be printed in a program.

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rosanna July 11, 2011 @ 12:15 p.m.

How is this legal? It looks like the charity only had about $200,000 when Ed Brand got $80,000 in salary. That's 40%! Isn't the Dodger's Charity being investigated for paying one of their exectives 25% of their budget? Why isn't Ed Brand's charity being investigated? I guess maybe laws don't apply to school superintendents.

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cvres July 11, 2011 @ 12:38 p.m.

What interests me is all the crossover names. Dragon the former Sweetwater finance officer, (isn't he doing the same out in east county?) Himelstein from Sweetwater Education Foundation and formerly the cal dept of education. And of course Alevy, the guy with the big PR contract and non-existent meetings, also on the Sweetwater Education Foundation. Then I recall Alevy and Brand's name were very linked during the drive to pass prop bb.

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Susan Luzzaro July 11, 2011 @ 7:47 p.m.

Rosanna, that's an interesting point, something I'm not aware of. If you're still around this comment section, I'd be interested to know the legality regarding 501(c)3s. Thanks...

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Visduh Aug. 8, 2011 @ 8:30 p.m.

Things have actually improved, or shall I say "perked up" in that miserable district. Diego Ochoa of grade changing fame decided not to accept his demotion to principal of a middle school, and resigned. And he did that with no apparent new job in hand. Good riddance to Mr. Macho Principal. Brand has also accepted some changes (did he actually make them happen?) in other areas of the district's operations. Does this mean that Brand is actually a competent administrator? Naw, nevahappen! But with such an easy act to follow as Jesus G, anything looks like an improvement.

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bankalchemist Aug. 16, 2011 @ 9:43 a.m.

In reading the commits here it would seem that most contributors have a clear understanding of Ed Brand and how he operates. It's everyone's responsibility to get the story out. HIT the blogs and commit sections of any press having to do with his activities or shenanigans. He likes to link his success or good will to others so he is likely to benefit by his actions. I don't know of a time he ever did anything that he was not plotting "whats in it for me". His homer looking dumb smile disarms folks into thinking his intentions are only for their well being. If you see Tom Hassey in tow or close you can be assured they are near pulling off the scam. Ed comes up in searches on google for blacks beach, ventana national bank, metabolife, pam davis and ed brand. So be entertained at his escapades.

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SurfPuppy619 Aug. 17, 2011 @ 2:54 p.m.

Ed comes up in searches on google for blacks beach, ventana national bank, metabolife, pam davis and ed brand. So be entertained at his escapades.

Ed Brand + Blacks Beach= I would need chlorine for my eyes if that came up.

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