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Stories by Susan Luzzaro

National City Planning Commission prodded to decide on making space for Alliant Int'l University

“Why are they pushing this down our throats?”

Political pressure is building in National City to allow Alliant International University to take over some classrooms previously dedicated to National City Adult School. On August 5, the National City Planning Commission voted to table ...

Alliant University leaves Sweetwater school district property in National City…sets up at Southwestern College?

Trustee is not happy

Many are still perplexed by the vaunted opening of "Alliant International University at Sweetwater" in National City. A couple weeks ago (July 20), an Alliant sign was hung over an office door, and Alliant counselor ...

Sweetwater superintendent Ed Brand’s Alliant project hits snag

National City planners don’t approve location

One of Sweetwater Union High School District superintendent Ed Brand’s pet projects suffered a setback at the hands of National City planning commissioners on the night of August 5. Brand’s idea to establish Alliant International ...

Did Manuel Paul illegally burn San Ysidro School District papers?

Whistleblower placed on administrative leave

Curious reports continue regarding burned papers retrieved from a burn barrel in the maintenance yard of the San Ysidro School District. The incident, which was first reported on July 3 by NBC7, resulted in the ...

After car crash, Sweetwater trustee McCann out of ICU

Other victim soon back to work

As has been widely reported, Sweetwater Union High School District trustee John McCann was in a serious accident on July 24. The two- car collision occurred in Chula Vista on Telegraph Canyon Road. The police ...

Week in review: Sweetwater Union High School District

Movement on Alliant partnership includes pizza party; no public records

Does Sweetwater Union High School District superintendent Ed Brand have something to hide regarding the memorandum of understanding between Alliant International University and the district? Why else would he have stonewalled public record requests to ...

Sweetwater runs afoul of state Public Records Act

Delay due to “graduations/promotions,” says superintendent Brand

Last week, Sacramento was besieged by emails and phone calls about the budget trailer bill that would have made the California Public Records Act “optional.” By June 20, the assembly, the house, and the governor ...

Sweetwater trustee reports stolen property to police

John McCann wanted his campaign sign back

The Sweetwater Union High School District’s June 18 meeting had unexpected guests: Kamaal Martin from state-assembly member Shirley Weber’s office, Vivian Moreno from San Diego city councilmember David Alvarez’s office, and Albert Velasquez, a field ...

Chula Vista police chief Bejarano to home in on crime spot

Shots fired, bottles broken, condoms left behind

On June 8, Justice/Overcoming Boundaries, a community-organizing group, hosted a neighborhood forum at St. Mark’s Church in Chula Vista. About 100 residents turned out to discuss neighborhood empowerment and participate in three breakout groups: transportation, ...

Sweetwater board candidate has his sign damaged

Witnesses implicate a cohort of superintendent Brand

The preseason campaign games are upon the Sweetwater Union High School District. As early as June 4, “John McCann for School Board” signs dotted the roads that led to graduation ceremonies. Not to be outdone, ...

Sweetwater scandal spotlight: trustee Jim Cartmill

Contractors paid $1400 to his nutritional supplement company

Two brothers, Hector and Loreto Romero, were local contractors for Sweetwater Union High School District. Their company was named HAR Construction. They had landed an $8.5 million contract with Southwest High School and a $6.5 ...

Sweetwater scandal: Ed Brand’s claims contradicted

Did he or didn’t he ask for $40,000?

On May 30, the U-T published the testimony of Sweetwater Union High School superintendent Ed Brand, given to the San Diego County Grand Jury late last year. In November–December 2012, the grand jury conducted secret ...

It was always about animals

From helping your hound die happy to equine acupuncture, veterinarian Cynthia Redfield makes house calls for ailing animals.

Safety of Sweetwater school district’s buses below par

Bus driver testifies before board of trustees

Lawrence Gilly, who has been driving school buses for the Sweetwater Union High School District for 21 years, felt compelled to stand before the board of trustees on May 13 and advise them of the ...

Sweetwater teachers await funding news

Career-opportunity training in peril

On Friday, May 17, teachers from Sweetwater’s Regional Occupation/Career Technical Education program attended a hearing in district offices in hopes of averting their fate — they are scheduled to lose their jobs in June. Last ...

Sweetwater school district board approves Alliant partnership

Trustee Jim Cartmill: "Tonight we are beginning the dance."

The Monday, May 13, meeting of the Sweetwater Union High School District was raucous…again. The potential agreement with Alliant University was one source of contention. Trustee Bertha Lopez said while she supported choices for students, ...

Chula Vista exhibit documents WWII Japanese internment

Prewar, they established “Celery Capital of the World”

A cot, a hand-hewn chest of drawers, and tight quarters for six men — this is the display that dominates the visual and conceptual space of the current exhibit in the Chula Vista Heritage Museum. ...

Sweetwater school district to team with Alliant University?

According to YouTube, they already have

Sweetwater Union High School District superintendent Ed Brand will be bringing another university plan to the board of trustees on May 13. In January of this year, the district made a controversial agreement with the ...

Sweetwater cheer coaches seek pay from district

Broken promises and runaround, they say

Revanna Gonzalez and Vanessa Gamez love what they do: on top of work, family, and attending college, they coach cheerleaders for the Sweetwater Union High School District…or, they used to. Revanna and Vanessa were former ...

Montgomery Adult School’s last Viva Vida conference?

Budget cuts will likely end career-oriented workshops

For the 11th year in a row, Montgomery Adult School, part of the Sweetwater Union High School District, held their annual Viva Vida conference on April 25. The conference is designed to give students exposure ...

Former San Ysidro schools chief Manuel Paul won’t speak

Pleads Fifth, avoids self-incrimination

In an April 17, 2013, deposition, former San Ysidro School District superintendent Manuel Paul pleaded the Fifth 43 times in less than an hour in a breach-of-contract lawsuit filed against the district by EcoBusiness Alliance/Manzana ...

Chula Vistans discuss SANDAG’s rapid-transit plans

Cost, practicality, and bridge discussed

Chula Vista residents continue to seek alternatives to SANDAG’s plan to run a 21-mile rapid-transit bus line from the Otay border crossing down east Palomar Street and into downtown San Diego. At councilmember Pat Aguilar’s ...

Another Sweetwater board meeting mired in disagreement

Failure to elect oversight committee member

Sweetwater Union High School District board meetings often last five hours and are characterized by conflict. The April 9 meeting ended in a meltdown over the selection process used by the district to choose members ...

Sweetwater board votes to cut occupational programs

Students vow to continue protest

On April 9, the majority of the Sweetwater Union High School District board (John McCann, Arlie Ricasa, and Jim Cartmill) voted to cut the district’s Regional Occupation Program/Career Technical Education and adult-school programs. Funding for ...

Latest plans for ill-fated L Street land deal

Who can say no to soccer?

During public comment at the March Sweetwater Union High School board meeting, Jacqueline King, a resident of Chula Vista who has worked in real estate development for 36 years, addressed the trustees regarding the district’s ...

Before the DA's investigation of Sweetwater school district...

Lawyers paid for with school funds

In November 2012, the San Diego Grand Jury began investigating corruption allegations that encompassed three South Bay school districts: Southwestern College, the San Ysidro School District, and the Sweetwater Union High School District. The investigation ...

Sweetwater school district board seeks to silence opposition

Superintendent Brand calls someone’s boss

Is there a concerted attempt by the Sweetwater Union High School District to silence or stifle criticism? That’s what many public speakers told the trustees during the March 11 board meeting. The meeting was prefaced ...

Sweetwater school district cuts program and teachers

Abstained vote becomes a “yes” vote

The March 11 Sweetwater Union High School District meeting opened with a presentation “On Civility,” which was delivered by one of the district’s attorneys, Dan Shinoff. While Shinoff discoursed on the Constitution, Frederick Douglass, the ...

Sweetwater Union High School District & Realty Co.

Should the troubled district change their name?

The Sweetwater school district owns several properties that it is trying to flip into condo/apartment developments. The properties, located in western Chula Vista, are on L Street, Third Avenue, Fifth Avenue (district headquarters), and Moss ...

Southwestern College trustee resigns in protest

“Another of many sad days”

The latest at Southwestern College is the sudden resignation of trustee William Stewart, who gave an exclusive interview to the student newspaper, the Sun, on March 1. He told news editor Thomas Baker that he ...

Southwestern faculty questions college’s education plan

Is inaccurate data guiding the way?

Members of Southwestern College's faculty are concerned that the college’s master education plan is based on inaccurate data that may inform the administration’s pink-slip plan or presage the closing of programs integral to student needs. ...

Southwestern College may trim faculty to reduce costs

Teachers’ group resolves to fight

The threat of pink slips has reared its head at Southwestern Community College District for the first time since l987. Only a few months ago, when voters passed Proposition 30, a tax to fund K-12 ...

Sweetwater school board to address campaign spending limits

Activist succeeds after warning of legal action

At the Sweetwater Union High School District board meeting in January, Maty Adato finally resorted to the “A” word — she told the trustees she had retained an attorney. Adato, a Sweetwater parent and one ...

Sweetwater school district’s weird, failed real estate deals

District property to be apartments or soccer stadium?

In 2005, in conjunction with a nonprofit group called California Trust for Public Schools, aka Plan Nine Partners, LLC, the Sweetwater Union High School district borrowed $25,415,000 and $8,235,00 in variable-rate bonds to buy property ...

New Sweetwater Union financial officer has controversial past

Alleged “personnel problems,” unaccredited degree

In a February 1 phone call, Sweetwater Union High School District spokesperson Manny Rubio acknowledged that the district has hired Dr. Albert Alt as their new CFO. Rubio said Alt was selected after “a couple ...

Sweetwater board votes to open second charter school

Superintendent Brand sees it as money-maker

At the January 28 Sweetwater Union High School District board meeting, the majority of trustees voted to support superintendent Ed Brand’s push to open a second charter school; following up the Stephen W. Hawking Math ...

Sweetwater's gathering storm

Sweetwater Union High School District in Chula Vista has an excessive spending habit and may be in serious fiscal trouble soon.

Sweetwater board succumbs to public outcry

Still, meeting time to be slightly earlier

On Monday, January 28, concerned parents, teachers, and community members packed the Sweetwater Union High School District board meeting. One reason for the big draw was the district’s proposal to move evening board meetings to ...

Sweetwater board meeting times may change

Indignation ripples through the South Bay

The official Sweetwater Union High School District calendar says the next board meeting will be held on January 28 at 6:00, the usual time board meetings are held. However, over the January 19–20 weekend, an ...

Sweetwater U partnership opposed by Freedom from Religion

Foundation objects to “Christian worldview”

The Sweetwater Union High School District voted in 2011 to move forward on a university-related project. Superintendent Ed Brand told the Reader in a December 2011 interview that the district was surveying the residents to ...

Serious supporters of Sweetwater trustee Pearl Quiñones

Surprising allegations, questionable tactics

It’s no secret that the allegations of long-term corruption in the Sweetwater Union High School District have roiled the South Bay waters. A recent U-T article even calls on South Bay politicians to discuss the ...

Documents hint at Sweetwater board’s diners’ club

High school student investigated 10 years ago

The latest round of indictments handed down by San Diego’s criminal grand jury is so extensive, people wonder if corruption is just another name for South Bay. Fifteen defendants from three separate South Bay school ...

Southwestern College professor Philip Lopez dies

Heart attack befalls teacher/activist/accordionist

Friday, December 14, on the eve of his 65th birthday, on the last day of the fall semester, Southwestern College English professor Philip Lopez suffered a heart attack and died. Many people consider Lopez an ...

Sweetwater school board avoids campaign donations talk

Confronted three times in past year

After the fanfare was over at the Sweetwater Union High School District meeting on December 10, after San Diego mayor Bob Filner stood by recently reelected Pearl Quiñones's side as she was sworn in (referring ...

Developer gets cracking on unapproved Chula Vista project

Chula Vista residents who have been battling the city and the developer about a proposed 284-condo/apartment complex in eastern Chula Vista were alarmed last week when earth-movers appeared on the scene. Barney Reed, a spokesperson ...

Sweetwater University to “Open” Soon?

Last year, the Sweetwater Union High School District board voted to support a vaguely worded concept about an institution called “Sweetwater University.” The latest gambit for Sweetwater U is online college courses offered to high ...

Mayor Cox Cozy with Chula Vista Developer

Although the Chula Vista Redevelopment Corporation has come to an end, the legacy of a past redevelopment project continues to play out. In June of 2011, the U-T published an online story titled “City-subsidized building ...

Another Closure at Chula Vista’s Otay Ranch Center Mall

Another store in the Otay Ranch Center mall will be closing its doors soon. Coldwater Creek, an upscale women’s clothing store, and Coldwater Creek Spa, a full-service salon, will be going out of business on ...

Shades of Sweetwater at Calexico Unified School District

As the San Diego County grand jury opens an investigation this week into allegations of corruption in the Sweetwater Union High School District, new intrigues play out in Calexico with Sweetwater’s former attorney firm, GCR, ...

Sweetwater Schools Forum Makes Policy Clear as Mud

Concerned Sweetwater Union High School District parents and residents lined up to ask superintendent Ed Brand questions at a November 8 meeting. They wanted an accounting of the money they have paid into the 17 ...