Thanks to those of you that attended and continue to hold the district and administration accountable. An example of how your actions are working - Ed Brand pulls item K.1 asking for an ok to hire ex CFO Dianne Russo for $60k for 6 months of consulting. She of course is alleged to be the mastermind behind many of the financial schemes that have occurred at the district over the years. By the way, it appears she has been on the job since Dec 2013 working as a consultant. Since the item was pulled, I wonder how Ed is going to justify paying her for 2.5 months of work?
A few of you have commented on the Audit - item K.9. Boy, the results are appalling! They find a systemic failure of district leadership, with findings that include misuse of funds, improper reporting and inapproriate claims, internal control deficiencies, questionable or inappropriate expenditures, lacking appropriate documentation, etc! It's not just a few instances where this has been found, it is throughout the entire audit of several departments!! Any other organization, public or private, would have grounds to fire their CEO just based on these findings. Only at the Sweetwater Union High School District, where the Sweetwater Wayis practiced is this allowed.
Let me also point out item M6 - The Growth Management Oversight Report to the City of CV. The eastside schools, especially Eastlake High and Middle, are severly overcrowded and will be so for the next 5 + years. The following eastside schools are overcrowded: Eastlake Middle and High, Otay Ranch and Olympian High, and Rancho Del Rey Middle. Notice that some of these schools have only 70% of the kids attending the school to live in the neighborhood these schools were intended to service. Why is this? Because Ed Brand opened district boundaries, and there has been a flight from the westside schools. The enrollment at every single west side school has declined, and enrollment at the eastside schools has increased. Enrollment in the district as a whole has increased by 13%, and all of those kids are going to eastside schools. The solution is that Charter Schools will relieve overcrowding until Middle School 12 and/or HS 14 are built and open in 2017. Are you kidding - charter schools are the answer?! How about reinstituting school boundaries, focusing on the needs of the neighborhood schools to get them out of Program Improvement and giving kids a a reason to want to attend those school.
To much bad stuff going on in this district, with poor leadership by Ed Brand, Jim Cartmill and John McCann!!!
This sort of talk is premature with Sweetwater in a high degree of turmoil. When, if ever, SUHSD gets its house in order, unification might have some place in the local political discourse. For now, it would be really ridiculous.
Unification is not as difficult to do as some think. About fifteen years ago, when the Escondido Union High School District finally kept its long-standing promise to built a high school in Valley Center, things happened very rapidly. Insiders knew exactly what would happen, and the paint was scarcely dry on the new, lovely high school when the small Valley Center K-8 district combined with the tiny Pauma Valley district and unified. That meant the new district snatched the new VCHS away from EUHSD, and closed the school to students from outside the district. Many Escondidans felt cheated, and for good reason, their bond issue money went disproportionately to the new school, and now it was unavailable to them, even if they wanted their kids to attend it.
More recently, Bonsall had its K-8 district unify, and it doesn't have a high school! Its students can still attend Fallbrook High, but the district is OK with the kids going anywhere else in the area that will accept them. As a result, many Bonsall students are now attending the new, third Vista USD high school, Mission Vista High, located on Hwy 76, very close to Bonsall. Eventually Bonsall will get its own high school, and now that it has that task, can begin work on one. This unification may have had some political motivations, but they didn't face the sort of financial impropriety, corruption, and confusion that now exists in Sweetwater.
On the other hand, unification is no slam dunk. About ten years ago, when the Grossmont High school district was riven by factionalism and some corrosive elements, along with an arrogant and unpopular superintendent, the K-8 district in unincorporated Lakeside wanted to wrest control of their high school away from Grossmont. The ballot measure failed in large part because the teachers at El Capitan High vigorously opposed the change. And that was rather hard to understand because they were being regularly attacked and abused by the GUHSD administration under Superintendent Godley. Some people just don't like change, and will stick with the devil they know.
Too often, in the period after unification, the high school flounders because the elementary district is generally clueless about the operation of a high school, and fails to recognize the far greater degree of complexity involved in running a 9-12 school. That was the case years ago in both Oceanside and San Marcos, when their high schools were an afterthought to folks used to running elementary and junior high schools, and both districts had some really run-down and neglected high school campuses that were weak in academics.
It's complicated and governed by state law. Check out www.cde.ca.gov/re/lr/do, especially chapters 5 and 6. It does not happen overnight.
I think that while unification may seem at first glance to be an attractive alternative to the SUHSD mess we now have, I would encourage everyone to focus on the immediate need to take back the SUHSD district at the ballot box (if the judge continues to look at her shoes and let all the indicted perps slide away) in November.
We DO hold the keys to the future of the SUHSD. Three seats are up for election, plus we have the Ricasa vacancy to fill as well, and that seat will be a fourth on the November ballot.. Once (and if) the District is restored and the crooks removed from the treasury, that would be the time to consider if it is better educationally to divide it up. I would caution that using unification as a remedy to get rid of the crooks may be the wrong place to put our energies until November.
Unification is not necessarily the best solution for the current problems, and as well meaning as the suggestion might be, it will only further confuse the matter and divide our energies and efforts.
I am concerned that this proposal could result in sleight-of-hand accounting moves, and the Sweetwater problems, i.e., all the Ed Brand schemes and their associated bank accounts could get closed off from public view.
It is entirely possible that local politicians, now beginning to realize that public dissatisfaction with Sweetwater will not go away, are interested in protecting some history...and sweeping problems under the rug.
Ask yourselves, why was Trujillo never prosecuted? Why was he allowed to return to Texas, still work in education, end up as Gandara's guru? FYI, Trujillo is still working as a consultant in education, the last I heard, if you can believe that. Don't forget, they are from the same community as Quinones, and if you think that is mere coincidence, I heard the Brooklyn Bridge is for sale again.
The corruption is deep, it is long-standing, and I would be very suspicious of Mary Salas chiming in at this late hour regarding anything related to school districts. Where was she when we called her office repeatedly? Unavailable.
Take a look at the Ed code starting with 35511(3) for a definition of the process.
Section 35721(c) allows for a resolution of a City Council within the District to get the ball rolling with the County Board of Ed.
It gets complicated as the process moves on with EIRs and LAFCO approval as well as the apportionment of assets and debt. The latter being a sticking point in my view.
There is also the real issue of the two smaller districts having the financial ability to carry the Jr. and Sr. High duties.
In the end, it will have to make financial and structural sense. As frustrated as we may be with Sweetwater, change for the sake of change, is not a wise course of action.
I believe McCann might be in favor of it because it gives him a new bandwagon to ride.
Without some sort of momentum, his decisions have left him out in the cold.
He has zero credibility at this time, and perhaps his advisors told him this would be a good thing.
However, if I were CV Elementary School District, getting connected to Sweetwater would be the last thing I would want to do--especially since we still haven't found out the depths of the financial disarray!!!
What about getting a complete financial report, the forensic accounting we have been asking for?
After everyone really learns what the situation is, then perhaps discussions can be held regarding a merger. But it would be absolute folly to merge before Sweetwater's books have been opened up. Things could be so bad that CV Elementary could just be dragged down.
No responsible person would want that.
Well the new word on the street is that we can all look forward to seeing John McCann's name all over the district on the schools marquis. His bid for CV City Council is the reason. He will be visiting the school under the pretense that he isa concerned SUHSD board member checking the schools out. We were told that he is insisting that the schools put his name up so that the voters see it. We will get the names of the schools he is visiting out as soon as we get them. I'm ill,this self serving------------------ is too much. Is it wrong to hope he wins the election so we don't have to deal with him any longer? He will do less harm on a council where he's already known to be a buffoon. Here. We go again.
With all that John McCann has NOT done for the students and taxpayers of the SUSD one would think he would be hanging his name in shame vs. attempting self promotion.
When and if Mr. McCann runs he can be assured that his poor record of leadership and his voting record as a school board member will be highlighted. Can't wait for the first public forum - I have my examples all written down.
Wonder if he is going to have his two page bio read over the intercom - those poor students!
* McCann was quoted as saying he wanted an election to fill the seat because he did not want the three remaining indicted board members choosing. This is most curious as Mr. McCann has consistently voted in the three board block - Jim Cartmill, Arlie Ricasa and himself. AND allow me to remind you John McCann was the board president who allegedly failed to share a legal response with the other board members which stated 'the gandara' could be fired for cause - instead he allowed 'the gandara' to walk away with a termination date that allowed him to receive retirement - and then there is the legal representation that 'the gandara's' sweet contract gave him.
John McCann for City Council - YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KDDING ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Visduh - right on the money again. If you blink, you will miss yet another example of malfeasance and teflon performances by those who are supposed to be working for us:
1) County Board of Education, which is supposed to provide oversight of school districts in the jurisdiction, especially with regard to fiscal matters; They are AWOL in Sweetwater matters;
2) Presiding judge of the San Diego Superior Court, David J. Danielsen (who sports a Teddy Roosevelt-type mustache) who is supposed to oversee the courts to make sure justice had an opportunity....instead, he lobbed the entire corruption matter into the South County Courthouse, probably hoping it would all just go away; Seems he is not a rough rider.
3) Judge Ana Espana, who it appears is doing her best to do what Judge Danielsen wants. It seems she is not able, or is unwilling, to hold anyone's feet to the fire and is not even very adept at wrist-slapping;
4) The State Superintendent of Education......an elected official I believe. Wouldn't you think that person would care enough to inquire about the mess.
5) DA Bonnie Dumanis, who does have other worries, but is still being paid by us. It seems her assistants have worked their butts off to get the indictments, but who authorized the plea deals?
6) All of the so-called public servants who would do anything rather than go to trial....that must be a lot of work!
7) Of course, all the thieves who have conspired to take OUR money, our kids' money we pay in taxes for their educations, and appropriate it for themselves;
8) the granddaddy of all hucksters, Fast Eddy Brand. Do a little 'sidestep' for us Ed, you are so good at it!
I do hope there are more shoes to drop in our favor. Crimes have been committed and there was enough proof to get the indictments.
Gee, I leave town for a few days, and the train jumps the track again. Pfingsto had a lot of nerve to go to court and ask for a delay based on what he told the judge. Many judges in town, not noted for being really strong jurists, would have denied the request and then taken the opportunity to royally ream him out, and maybe even threaten him with contempt. The report indicates she had told all the counselors to be ready for trial next month, and that was after great delay already. Sure, Paulie anticipated a plea bargain, and it now sounds as if he cannot get one that will keep his client from being a felon. Does this mean that the DA has decided to dig in her heels and refuse to roll over? While the DA was wobbling, that does not mean that her deputies, who have prepared these cases, are taking this less than very seriously. If she doesn't validate their work and effort, she'll have a group of very unhappy people in her office. One of the things that lost Pfingst the DA's chair was that many of his employees worked to defeat him at the polls and that grew out of his lack of morals and shady dealings. She could have the same thing coming.
We have a wild card here, in that it is now obvious that the FBI is actually on the job in San Diego county, and going after corruption. That fact is a game changer, although it may take quite a while to become fully apparent. This delay further negatively reflects on the judge, and shows that her lack of fitness for continuing to serve in that capacity is worse than was obvious before. Get ready for more outrages in these cases. "You ain't seen nothin' yet!"
I would like to THANK Ms. Salazar, Ms. Hill and ALL of the SUHSD teachers who have and continue to inspire the students of the SUHSD. Please know that ALL of you are respected and appreciated - we, the parents,grandparents, and community members 'GET IT' - YOU SO MATTER.
A, ONE, THAT SPECIAL educator can make a difference - you all do it every day.
When I was a teenager the football coach at Hilltop High accepted my invitation to be my 'father stand in' at a father daughter chili night. My father had reinlisted and had been sent over to Vietnam - he was a corpsman and, in truth, I lived in fear every day that he I would never see him again. This coach lived in Del Mar yet took time out of his personal life and away from his family to take me. That one night meant more to me than words can explain, for one night I was able to laugh and live in the moment, I am now 64, yet this one act, by an educator (geography teacher and football coach) I have never forgotten.
How many SUHSD educators are doing the same, making a difference in their students lives? MOST I AM SURE
In the marketing business, the objective is to decide 'what do we want the prospective customer to do?' and then craft the message asking the customer to do just that. It is called 'the ask'.
The upcoming elections will be all about just that.
However, we do not yet know the specific answer to that question (elect so-and-so in order to restore ethics and rid Sweetwater of corruption) because the court scene has not yet played out. We do not know who the so-and-so's are and who the competition will be. A winning campaign is clear about the message and the ask.
Frustration is growing, that is obvious. However, is it possible to save the energy and angst until a clear picture of what we will be asking the voters to do emerges? Otherwise, the messages and efforts (such as picketing a single target seeking asking for just one thing for one group) will be fragmented, those on the fringes confused or turned off.
In the meantime, raising money for the battle ahead would be a good focus. A campaign committee to form a Political Action committee can be organized. A core strategy group can be formed to identify allies and make network connections. There is organizational work to be done before the noise-making should commence.
miagd - as I read your post above I could feel your deep frustration, then I read PencilPokinVelma's words and I sat here shaking my head.
Is this what it has come down to? Successful businesses - and trust me this IS a business - are so, and remain so, when all parties are working towards a common goal. In our case we have but one goal - educating students. Our superintendent Ed Brand is failing at that and miserably so. Additionally he has failed at unifying ALL members of the SUHSD family.
I TOTALLY support your peaceful walk in front of Cartmill's house and would recommend more innovative actions. In my opinion the purpose being served is drawing attention to the Issues at SUHSD? Why not walk at the corners of busy intersections in Eastlake, Bonita, Plaza Bonita, down at the foot of H street, at the Plaza shopping center in National City, at the Pier in IB, Main Street central in San Ysidro and Third Avenue in Chula Vista.
I do however respectfully question why the union has not done more. YOU, the teachers and your union are being painted as selfish and greedy to the voting public. The community is not being educated. Take for example - the peaceful walk - where was the TV coverage? - where was the unions response to Mr. McCann's call for a special election. SUHSD can afford an election but we can not afford to negotiate with our teachers? Something is wrong. We can afford to expend $18million on a new district office but we can not afford to negotiate fair employment benefits?
In truth there is NO SUHSD family, we have become splintered factions. WE, the VOTERS, WE the PARENTS have allowed this to spiral out of control. We were foolish enough to believe that simply because someone refers to himself as a minister that he is righteous, we fell for the titles of ------ of the Year, we trusted based on words. - WE FAILED TO DEMAND THE ACTIONS THAT WOULD HAVE PUT VERBS IN THE CAMPAIGN PROMISE SENTENCES.
As a teacher I have to say no one I know is using the children like pawns in a custody battle. My professional colleagues and I still do everything we can for kids all day long. I personally stopped doing the things I did out of courtesy to the adults. I spend my prep time grading and planning- not attending meetings. My papers take longer to grade because I don't take them home any more, but they are done quickly and the kids get the feedback they need, though it is no longer in fun bulletin board form. We are not hurting kids and I object to the thought that we ever would. If I don't do extra and it engenders conversation with a parent who noticed, then I have done my job.
And as a side note- I was not even a SEA member for over a dozen years. Ironically it was the return of Dr. Brand and in particular the scary principal he gave us that pushed me to join. Heck I was even happy when Dr. Brand came back. I really thought he was one of us and would have our back. Like many I am so hurt and saddened by the direction our district is going. I love Sweetwater and I hate this dissent.
If I said to my students that I was going to weigh a test for 20% of their grade, then at the last minute told them it would be 80% of their grade unless they agree to give me their cell phones for the next 3 months- that would be unethical and I would be disciplined. How anyone can defend Dr. Brand using a huge uptick in benefit costs that his own advisors told him was not necessary in order to beat concessions out of his staff is beyond comprehension. Wrong is wrong.
Dr. Grier is a proponent of putting money in the classroom. It is an insult to him to compare Dr. Brand's problems to his- Dr. Brand just took back all the money our schools have to help in the classroom (SEI, Title I, LEP...). I have met Dr. Grier and Ed Brand is no Terry Grier.
Yes even Bertha is a criminal- but she seems to be the only one who has the backbone to ask a question or stand up for common sense. We will all be relieved when the new board is seated.
bbq talks about a grassroots group - that's us! A friend and I had an idea: We may all have been contacting various representatives individually, but I suggest that we contact all the representatives together in the same week and let them know we are vocal and we vote.
If I get 20 "likes", I'll post the names, phone numbers, emails, twitter and Facebook accounts of our local reps. (Cheryl Cox, Ron Morrison, David Alvarez, Bonnie Dumanis, Tony Atkins, Lorena Gonzalez, Sherly Weber, Ben Hueso, Randolph Ward, Lyn Neylon, and anyone else you can think of)
You could also forward your emails and have your spouse/partner/friends email the representatives or post your "open letter" on their Facebook page.
By clicking the thumbs up icon you pledge to make at least 5 contacts in one week. Are you in?
6 a.m., March 12
Richard Verstegan 5 a.m., March 12
Scott Ellis 3 a.m., March 12
Don Bauder 9:45 p.m., March 11
Danielle Falknor 6:30 p.m., March 11
Ed Bedford 6 p.m., March 11
Dave Rice 5:30 p.m., March 11
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