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Olympian High School

1925 Magdalena Avenue, Eastlake

Two young women were chatting as they walked around the track during P.E. at Olympian High School on Friday, September 13. It was third period and no doubt both 14-year-olds, were looking forward to the weekend. (Because of their age, the girls will only be identified by their first initials — J. and T.)

A golf cart suddenly pulled up beside the girls with a security guard and the assistant principal, Brahim Wahib, in it. T. related in an October 3 interview with the Reader that Wahib, addressing her by her last name, said, “Get in the cart.”

As the cart drove away, Wahib asked T. if that was her friend she was walking with and then sent the security guard to bring J. to the girls’ locker room as well.

J.’s account to the Reader on September 26 continues the narrative: “He [Wahib] asked what I did this morning. He asked, ‘Were you with T. [her friend]? Did you and T. see anybody?' Did you and T. see any girl with, like, balloons and stuff? I said, ‘No.’ Then he said, ‘Did you bump [physically] into anybody this morning?’… He said, ‘The reason I am asking is because someone said you and T. stole their wallet and we’re checking if you have the wallet or not.'”

Later in the day, the girls’ parents would learn the suspects had been identified to the school administration as “two African-American girls” who were allegedly following the victim.

Wahib told the girls the wallet was stolen at 7:15. J. is dropped off by her father at 7:20 and T. rides the bus. They meet up before school. They explained to Wahib that they did not steal a wallet and they were not on the grounds when the wallet was stolen.

J. said that Wahib told her they had to do the search because of the report and then the physical education teacher, who was also present, searched the girls’ bags.

According to J., after the search, Wahib told the girls, “'Well, I don’t think you guys did it because you guys look too innocent but we’re just checking just to make sure.’ Then he told us he was going to let us write a statement.”

J. said her backpack contained personal items and that the incident made her mad.

T’s recollection corresponds with J’s. She said she explained to Wahib that it wasn’t them, that they didn’t see anyone when they came up the path to the school — no girl, no balloons, no wallet.

Even though she asserted her innocence, Wahib told T. and J. to take their things out of their lockers. “He [Wahib] said, ‘It’s protocol. I have to search your backpacks.’” No wallet was found.

On October 1, the Reader interviewed Alex Simpson, a CalWestern law professor and staff attorney, about the incident. Simpson said, “Obviously there are countervailing interests in a school setting. However, the question is whether the school’s actions were reasonable.”

Simpson continued, “The Fourth Amendment ensures that everyone is free from unreasonable searches…. I would say absolutely it’s an unreasonable search because there’s nothing to really tie her to this crime that would give them any cause to be able to search her without her consent.

“And then the second thing becomes at what point is the school allowed to conduct non-consensual searches based on nothing more than a hunch. I don’t think any of us want to be in a situation where our students or our kids are searched just because I kind of have a hunch that you might be doing something wrong.”

The search of “African-American girls” extended beyond J. and T. According to T., two other African-American girls came into her fifth-period class and were angry because they, too, had been hauled into the office and accused of stealing a wallet.

The parents of J. and T. were not contacted until after the interrogation and search. As Simpson points out — this was not a time-sensitive issue. There would be no reason why the parents couldn’t have been contacted prior to the search.

T’s mother told the Reader on October 3 that she was told by the school that everything was conducted according to protocol. But she believes she should have been contacted and been with her daughter when the questioning and search occurred.

“My daughter has all A’s and B’s. Why was she even targeted?” T’s mother said. “There are several things wrong here — the treatment according to race, the treatment of minors and the inappropriate protocol. This has completely changed the comfort level at that high school.”

T.’s mother says she had another child graduate from Olympian and there have been issues in the past that have contributed to a feeling that some African-American students have been the target of extra vigilance by the administration.

Stewart Payne is the father of J. and says she is a solid student who has never been in trouble. Payne is also one of the people who went to the San Diego District Attorney’s Office more than two years ago with information about corruption at the Sweetwater Union High School District.

After learning about what appeared to him to be racial profiling and illegal search, he asked for the district policy. It states:

“School officials may search individual students, their property, and district property under their control, when there is a reasonable suspicion that the search will uncover evidence that the student is violating the law, board policy, administrative regulations, or other rules of the district or the school.”

Payne sent an email to assistant principal Wahib that read, “Based on our phone conversation Friday [September 13], you have failed to demonstrate what reasonable suspicion existed to justify the search of my daughter.” Payne went on to argue that his daughter was not named, that the only description was “two African-American girls,” that neither his daughter nor her friend were on campus at the time of the theft, that misinformation about class schedules played a part, and that his daughter was searched only because she was a friend of a suspect.

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Comments

anniej Oct. 5, 2013 @ 12:58 p.m.

Parents of both female students should have been called prior to anyone's person or belongings being searched.

I have no doubt that there was talk of the search spreading as teenage news does. Put yourself in the place of these two high school girls - to be even considered as a potential suspect would have dramatic negative effects on ones reputation, not a good thing.

I know Paynes' daughter - like her older sister a stellar person - but why would she be anything but - both parents are caring, loving, educated professionals and heavily involved in every aspect of their children's lives.

There is no mention of an apology by Wahib, certainly it was called for. They 'looked' innocent?, if that were the case why were they searched?, because they 'looked' black?

What if the alleged thieves would have been described as Latina or white? Would every female Latina, every white teenage girl been picked up and searched? I think no.

6

erupting Oct. 5, 2013 @ 3:15 p.m.

Intimidation tactics against students that seem to be illegal. Maybe it's time to call the ACLU.

7

eastlaker Oct. 5, 2013 @ 4:14 p.m.

Amazing. Simply amazing.

This is what passes for leadership and critical thinking skills among Sweetwater administrators. Does anyone remember ever hearing this advice: "Don't jump to conclusions!"?

Somehow I don't really think that there was a correct protocol being followed. Several key steps were missing.

But that happens much of the time in the Sweetwater Union High School District--much important information is missing. And all of it needs to be made public.

Is it possible that Mr. Payne's daughter was targeted because her father speaks out, calling Sweetwater's leaders on their wrongdoing? Possible and probable, I would say. More probable, with more probable cause than Sweetwater had infringing on the rights of those students mentioned in this article.

You can always count on SUHSD for a new twist in educational misdirection.

5

joepublic Oct. 5, 2013 @ 5:47 p.m.

To quote Mr. Wahib: "....In the investigation involving your daughter, it was determined that your daughter was not involved and that there were students who were misidentified. The search of her belongings was conducted in the presence of a female teacher as well as me and the campus assistant..."

Question for Mr. Wahib : What was your reasonable cause to search these students' belongings? To cut to the search as quickly as you did, certainly does NOT appear to be within the spirit of the law.

erupting: According to the article (second page) the ACLU has been contacted by one of the students' father.

4

oldchulares Oct. 5, 2013 @ 6:20 p.m.

Joepublic- well you have confirmed it, the eyes are the first thing to go - I failed to see there was a second page. Thnx,,,,,,

5

Jmbrickley Oct. 5, 2013 @ 7:10 p.m.

“School officials may search individual students, their property, and district property under their control, when there is a reasonable suspicion that the search will uncover evidence that the student is violating the law, board policy, administrative regulations, or other rules of the district or the school.” Board Policy

"Later in the day, the girls’ parents would learn the suspects had been identified to the school administration as “two African-American girls” who were allegedly following the victim."

"The search of “African-American girls” extended beyond J. and T. According to T., two other African-American girls came into her fifth-period class and were angry because they, too, had been hauled into the office and accused of stealing a wallet."

Well, Wahib, What was your plan? Haul every black female student in until you "maybe" found the wallet? Being black and female is NOT "reasonable suspicion." You sir, are an ignorant buffoon. And a racist!

7

oskidoll Oct. 6, 2013 @ 9:42 a.m.

Ed's Gestapo at work. For shame! I do hope the ACLU and other authorities with an ability to investigate such persecution by harassment are taking a serious look.

By the way, take a look (Saturday's Los Angeles Times story) at the recent judge's ruling about the secrecy practices of the Los Angeles Stadium Commission. He called out the Commission for failing to deliberate in public, as is required by the Brown Act, and for doing way too much of the public's business in closed session. Ring any bells?

5

oneoftheteachers Oct. 6, 2013 @ 2:18 p.m.

Stewart Payne,isn't he one of the five activists responsible for challenging the corrupt SUHSD? Didn't John McCann slap a TRO on him that was dismissed because it was found to be groundless? Didn't the district pay for that legal fiasco? Didn't the district also pay for the private investigator who went to Kathleen Cheers' home? Do you think district leadership, some of whom are under felony indictment, might be trying to silence these whistle blowers? Watch out Fran, John and Maty!

5

Jmbrickley Oct. 6, 2013 @ 6 p.m.

Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes!

I always have my back covered.

5

anniej Oct. 6, 2013 @ 2:50 p.m.

oneoftheteachers - the three you mention above have been targeted as well.

The five are committed to restoring integrity to the name SUHSD. Why Jim Cartmill continues to allow this is quite confusing. One would think of all persons he would be the one who would stand up and put a stop to this. Not quite understanding why he would become so upset over the use of the word 'hell' yet stand idly by and not only watch but apparently condone Ed Brands wrong doing. But then I am assuming that he, Jim Cartmill, believes, like the majority of the community, that what Ed Brand is doing is wrong.

Perhaps in Cartmills world it is only wrong when someone, other than a friend, is doing it. Thank goodness my friends are friends for all of the right reasons, they do not/ will not/ have not taken pause to tell me when I was wrong.

When this is all over, when all of those witnesses have spoken and the truth is learned - when it is on every TV channel, every paper, every radio talk show - how will Jim Cartmill answer to the question WHY? then

5

Jmbrickley Oct. 6, 2013 @ 6:02 p.m.

I think the word was "bullshit." After all, isn't that what they are feeding us?

6

oskidoll Oct. 6, 2013 @ 6:17 p.m.

It is bullshit in spades. Why think that Cartmill is any different from the other perps? He may have played the role of the all-so-holy one, but so did Elmer Gantry. Don't forget Cartmill too is under indictment.

Tick Tock, Tick Tock....February trials approach.

In the meantime, Ed will likely continue his aberrant behavior, 'connecting the dots' to flush out and persecute anyone who crosses him and his schemes. He is behaving like a cornered rabid animal. Sad to say, he is spending our tax money to connect those dots.

Just received my property tax bill. Take a look at the money we spend to fund the SUHSD, in addition to our state tax money that comes back to fund attendance.

Que lastima!

6

anniej Oct. 6, 2013 @ 7:08 p.m.

JmBrickley - no, it was 'h e double l'

7

Visduh Oct. 7, 2013 @ 8:13 a.m.

Anyone surprised that nobody at the school or the district responded to Susan's inquiry? All those involved are so sure of themselves until the press wants to hear the story from them, and then they clam up. Sadly, that sort of thing isn't limited to this dysfunctional district and administration. It happens all the time all around the county and state and nation. Vista USD used to trot out their "legal eagle" mouthpiece to handle some of the inquiries from the press and public and the response was lawyerly and oh-so-carefullly parsed. Sweetwater has a cheaper way to do it, as in not responding at all.

6

eastlaker Oct. 7, 2013 @ 11:05 a.m.

However, I believe Sweetwater does have people on staff whose 'jurisdiction' this would be...to at least make a public statement.

Perhaps even they are beginning to realize the impossibility of defending the indefensible.

Or, they are so completely ineffectual as to not even realize what should be a part of their job.

Or--Ed Brand has given instruction to 'batten down the hatches'...?

Case study in disarray, mismanagement, failure to correctly assess and act, and in short, a classic moment of the ill-informed and ill-prepared in action.

Where does Sweetwater go from here?

4

oldchulares Oct. 7, 2013 @ 8:35 a.m.

Jim continues to disappoint. The private investigator story was mighty bad. I hope you are all right. I hope this trial will end up removing him from the board. Maybe it will give him time to pastor himself. I am one of the ones that was suckered in.

7

JulianAsange Oct. 8, 2013 @ 11:19 p.m.

To add insult to injury, the district is "saving" money by reneging on the agreed health insurance for teachers. A family plan could now cost a teacher double what they paid last year. Hmm, what could the district do with that 5 million in "savings" .... are there any consultants out there in need of new clients? Oh, I forgot, they already hired a consultant to advise them on the health insurance rates they are now reneging on. Way to go SUHSD - aka money pit!

3

shirleyberan Oct. 7, 2013 @ 5:55 p.m.

Too much power for unqualified and clueless admin - again - get law on them - they deserve it - child protection - hello! If my daughter was treated that way, all avenues for recompense would be explored. Kids at school better be protected from unreasonable adults or else.

4

anniej Oct. 7, 2013 @ 9:13 p.m.

Lalucha - OUCH!

your words are to the point and eloquently stated.

these two young ladies deserved far better, especially from adults that they are taught to respect.

common core, not educated enough to speak on it as of yet, but i am working on that! ha ha what always seems to amaze me is the lack of respect our district seems to show teachers. you all went to school, are educated and yet the district continues to, with each year, bring in a new 'super fab' consultant to teach you how it should be done. hmmmm, if they are so good at it, why aren't they in front of students? why is there a new better than the last expensive program pushed each year????? just wondering.

i believe that many administrators are like teachers, moving to the mandates of brand's directives. they like most of you, have mortgages to pay, kids to clothe, and taxes to pay. truth be told the majority of them are secretly rooting for all of us. get rid of the board, get rid of brand - yet when brand brings up a name like, for example, anniej they cry 'hang her from the highest tree' - if only he knew.

let me be the first to say 'welcome back, and I THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO FOR THE STUDENTS YOU STAND BEFORE EACH DAY.

hey, brand is doing what brand does best TRYING TO INTIMIDATE!!!! silly brand, does he not realize bigger and badder have come before him, to no avail. i believe that the students deserve ALL of the tax dollars we pour into the state and fed treasury that are earmarked for education, not a small percentage. but let there be no mistake i long for the day when suhsd is finally in the hands of a board that represents the community in a positive way, then anniej will fade into the horizon.

this is october folks, with the first of each month the trial grow closer, as do the elections for the new board members. there is a new day a comin', happy days will be here again!!!

4

Reader2 Oct. 8, 2013 @ 11:08 p.m.

Just saw the News 10 video. 300 non-working fire alarms! Shouldn't someone go straight to jail for that kind of negligence? When will the bad news end? I guess when the "leaders" go. I can't wait for that day either, anniej. Tonight I just feel sad.

4

dbdriver Oct. 9, 2013 @ 9:56 a.m.

When you look at the inspection report, you can see that it was done back in June.

The district says: "To place the fire alarm systems in perspective, they can be compared to an automobile. Cars have thousands of components. Some are critical to the operation of the vehicle such as the engine, tires, exhaust systems, etc. Others are not as critical to operation, such as the radio, a cigarette lighter, or the car’s interior upholstery. While still important, these items are not essential to safe operation."

So which of these components does the district consider non-critical?

3

eastlaker Oct. 9, 2013 @ 2:44 p.m.

Good question, dbdriver.

I'm no expert, but 300 non-working fire alarms is a pretty big number.

And while I am sure there are many components that go into all of the fire alarm systems at all the schools, to have 300 in a non-working condition many months after this was first brought to the public's attention is astounding.

To me, it looks like proof that 'no one is home' at the district level.

They promised that the problems with the alarms were being taken care of, but it looks like that was one more in a long string of half-truths and outright lies emanating from Sweetwater's HQ.

We all know the administration would much rather be planning their own new luxury building, running who knows how many schemes with who knows how many questionable institutions of (fiscal gouging) learning, and rewarding their friends with all sorts of contracts for only heaven knows what services.

Why make the students' safety and well-being a priority when you can be feathering your own nest and planning more private investigations of your critics?

Sweetwater, the unholy mess.

Autocratic leadership supported by institutional inadequacy. I am continually amazed that the County Board of Education and the State Board of Education can ignore this time and time again.

Isn't anyone embarrassed, from a standpoint of professionalism?

Isn't anyone worried for the safety of the students and the staff?

4

shirleyberan Oct. 9, 2013 @ 12:14 p.m.

Why is there no Audit of Evasive Eddie?

3

anniej Oct. 10, 2013 @ 9:15 a.m.

What many are failing to consider is the fact that BACK IN 2007, yes 2007, when we, the taxpayers first voted in Prop O fire alarm upgrades were on the drawing board as a priority. Then in 2009 the board voted to send the project to DSA where it sat UNTIL the channel 10 story. IF The channel 10 story would not have aired when it did - the DSA time frame would have lapsed and we would have had to pay all over again - but hey, it's only money!

Too bad important issues move slowly - yet overspending on things like IPADS and shopping for a new building for a District Office and Transportation Lot are on the 'get 'er done NOW' directive by Brand.

February can not come toooo soon.

I am told that even if the board members are only found guilty of misdemeanors they can not serve in a public office for three years.

One way or another - time for them and Brand to go.

4

eastlaker Oct. 10, 2013 @ 1:15 p.m.

Having recently read another article in the Reader ("Lauren Skinker Paints Monsters"), my imagination was piqued: I wonder how she would interpret a formal portrait of the Sweetwater UHS Board of Trustees and their infamous leader, Superintendent Ed Brand.

2

JulianAsange Oct. 10, 2013 @ 2:04 p.m.

Even better, let's get a handwriting analyst to give us the low down on them. There was a woman in North County who did an event for us a few years back. She was right on the money.

3

anniej Oct. 10, 2013 @ 3:38 p.m.

JulianAsange - the actions of the board and super speak for themselves. Ed Brand is on a spending frenzy, I can only imagine what the months ahead have in store. The Board, well lets put it this way, if it were not for the questions of Lopez and the community the board meetings would be over in an hour - our Board tuned out along time ago.

2

shirleyberan Oct. 10, 2013 @ 9:51 p.m.

LaLucha - I don't know what he did this time but Betty is as guilty as Eddie, my opinion. She shuts her eyes till everything her husband has confiscated belongs to her. Maybe the Grand Jury has something on him, but please don't say nobody cares. Lots of good people care, but don't know how to change this and catch him. The school board won't represent, then what? I have read that they are responsible for his still being there. Possibly some of them will be forced out in February. Step by step.

2

oskidoll Oct. 11, 2013 @ 9:51 a.m.

There is certainly enough blame to go around. The Sweetwater crimes have grown and compounded. There are multiple Brand-scams operating simultaneously. Meanwhile, the students lose out and the taxpayers are taken to the cleaners.

Please don't forget that in spite of their protestations, the County Board of Education is culpable in failing to exercise their legal duty to oversee the school districts in their jurisdiction. They are especially charged with the responsibility of fiscal oversight of the districts in their jurisdiction. Many have called for forensic audits going back decades...why the inattention from the County? They have all picked up their fiddles, too, and dancing to Ed's tunes.

Surely the State Department of Education, if not the Attorney General, have some responsibility as well. Why are their hands still in their pockets?

The FBI should be interested in the misallocation of Federal Funds and the release of protected student record data to SBCS to use to promoting enrollment in Alliant U, a private, high-priced so-called university -- certainly not a good demographic match for the students who are to be served by the Federal grant-funded neighborhood project.

The FBI should also be interested enough to follow the money trail in the failed real-estate schemes that has put property the district once owned and still owes buckets of money on, in private hands.

Oh, there is so much of 'interest' in Sweetwater. The board fiddles and Sweetwater implodes.

4

eastlaker Oct. 11, 2013 @ 9:59 a.m.

Yes, and the critics get investigated!

1

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