Image of Jesus Gandara from “Shame On Jesus Gandara” Facebook page
  • Image of Jesus Gandara from “Shame On Jesus Gandara” Facebook page
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People are wondering: What was the board thinking when they hired former Sweetwater Union High School District superintendent Jesus Gandara? Did the executive search committee not provide boardmembers with enough information? And how many superintendents will the district have to buy out?

In 1991, former Sweetwater superintendent Anthony Trujillo was bought out by Sweetwater trustees and departed for Ysleta, Texas. According to the local La Prensa newspaper, Trujillo was forced to resign “under a cloud of corruption, [and] Grand Jury investigations, which were leading to criminal charges.”

In circumstances similar to Gandara's exit, Trujillo was given a handsome bye-bye package: The Los Angeles Times reported Trujillo was given $116,000 annual salary from January through August 1991. The district also “set up an early retirement plan and continued medical benefits for both Trujillo and his wife.”

When Trujillo landed a job as superintendent in Ysleta Texas, he began to work with…Jesus Gandara. Gandara worked for Ysleta in several positions during the 1990s, including associate superintendent. Gandara even acknowledged Trujillo in his doctoral thesis (titled “Ethnically Diverse Principals and Male Hispanic Superintendents’ Perceptions of the Superintendent’s Leadership”).

According to La Prensa, Trujillo was fired by the Ysleta board in 1998 “on the advice of a Texas Education Agency.”

In 2005, when Gandara was a finalist for superintendent in the El Paso Independent School District, the El Paso Times wrote about Gandara’s tenure in Ysleta: “Former Ysleta Trustee Michael Portillo, who often sided with the group that opposed former Superintendent Trujillo, said he had many questions about the purchasing and bidding process when Gandara was in charge of operations in the district.”

In 2006, the executive search company Hazard, Young and Attea & Associates was paid by Sweetwater over $30,000 to bring Gandara to Trujillo’s old stomping ground. Prior to hiring Gandara, boardmembers Jim Cartmill and Arlie Ricasa flew to Texas to interview Gandara.

In June 2011, the Sweetwater board gave Gandara his walking papers and a generous severance package. On January 4, 2012, he was charged with eight felony counts by the San Diego district attorney’s office.

Activists have questioned whether Gandara might have been terminated for cause and thus saved the public money.

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anniej Feb. 6, 2012 @ 10:13 p.m.

yes, a member of the community stated, at the last board meeting, that they had a letter from brand acknowledging the existence of the 2nd opinion but also stated that it was client attorney privilege (here we go again (vega report)).

so, who received that 2nd opinion, my vote is on mccann. why did he keep it from the rest of the board? how did brand get to 'the gandara' retiring meeting? who invited him? who offered him the job before the board had let 'the gandara' go? again, anniej is voting for mccann as the culprit, just my opinion.

so my fellow voters, whether you be Republican or Democrat - are we going to stand for one of the board members (remember my vote is on mccann) keeping vital info from the rest of the board - info that might have saved us from paying 'the gandara' all of those thousands of retirement benefits? why would a Republican who has a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers do such a thing? and why is brand, who has allegedly acknowledged the existences of the 2nd opinion protecting the person who kept it from the other members of the board?

oh my, my head is spinning trying to keep all of these 'alleged' dastardly deeds straight in my mind. surely this is a lifetime movie in the making - unfortunatley for us we are living the nightmare.

this article proves that all is 'terminal' at sweetwater - only a matter of time now - remember bell, california? it appears that we are the new bell - we are being talked about all over not only california but nation wide.

let us NOT forget who was on the panel to hire 'the gandara' - well it was none other than bonny garcia, corruptor at law. and we all know what happened to the fees that garcia was charging for his services, after 'the gandara' was hired - it appears they did what the song sings - "they went up, and up, and up, and up, and up"!!!

once again i would like to thank ms. luzzaro for her concise yet very informative article. The Reader has become the go to print coverage for the SUHSD issue.


erupting Feb. 6, 2012 @ 10:48 p.m.

Right on anniej. The Vega report took months and a whole lot of community members to shake it loose.The second opinion will be be the same way. McCann can't afford to take another hit at this time. People are starting to see him for what he really is. Can you believe that Tony and Jesus know each other. What a surprise. It seems we have to get a grand jury involved or the D A's office in order to get rid of these guys. Brand has already left and returned after a Grand Jury investigation. How do we get rid of him now.


anniej Feb. 6, 2012 @ 11:07 p.m.

well it appears that brand is digging his own grave - 'funds for education' that about sums up why brand came back. money making ponzi schemes, same old brand.

then we have 'erik hall & assoc.' the firm hired to do the prop o audit, the only thing they forgot to mention was the fact that barry dragon, x ee of suhsd & good friend of brand's worked for them. so what do you want to bet that the audit will find a 'few' irregularities and brand will attempt to sell it as gospel. that is NOT going to happen, many in the community have been demanding a forensic audit, and without it, the view that the district i.e. brand is trying to hide something will continue.

if shake it loose is what we need to do SO BE IT. time to let our voices be heard again, WE WANT THAT 2ND OPINION, WE WANT TO KNOW WHICH BOARD MEMBER RECEIVED IT and kept it from the rest of the board.

the question needs to be asked, WHY DO WE NEED TO DEMAND ANYTHING FROM BRAND? isn't he the same man who promised to return the district to the reputation of old? maybe that is the problem his reference of 'old' was old brand days.


eastlaker Feb. 7, 2012 @ 8:13 a.m.

Well, isn't all this facinating. The interconnections behind all the mess are finally starting to unravel. I hate to say it, but it almost looks like there are interested parties who WANT corruption and indeed, go out of their way to put people where worst practices will flourish. Really, how sickening it all is. This needs to be stopped. I wonder what Sweetwater could have been like if only these "leaders" had done their jobs capably and honestly from the beginning. And by the way, can we please get complete accounting on all the Mello-Roos funds, because they were not administered as they were intended either.


eastlaker Feb. 7, 2012 @ 8:48 a.m.

So Gandara learned at the knee of the Master Swindler, Trujillo. I wonder if this could be called Trujillo's Revenge--but I truly hope the public's tolerance for misuse of public office (including Superintendent of Schools) has been reduced to less than zero.

For close to twenty years I have been wondering about local issues and politics that didn't seem to add up, and knowing now what is probably only a small part of what has gone on, I am greatly saddened by people who pretend to educate, to lead, to serve the public and really are the thieves in the night.


anniej Feb. 7, 2012 @ 10:38 a.m.

trujillo, allegedly he sold all of those computers across the border and then 'forgot' to report the profits. the reputation of corruption within our district is long sorid. did we learn, ah, NO - look at the hiring of 'the gandara', bonny garcia, and brand a 2 time looser,


anniej Feb. 7, 2012 @ 10:34 a.m.

your thoughts are shared by many in the community. for far too long we believed, we thought, we wanted to believe, we wanted to think that those who had been elected WERE DOING THEIR JOBS. little did we realize that the majority were using their positions as board members to their own advantage. all of those behind the scenes deals, all of those votes for contractors who had poured literally thousands upon thousands in the campaign coffers of mccann, cartmill and ricasa as well as others. did a one recuse themselves when said contractors names came up for a bid or for a change order - that would be a NO.

decisions are being made in the community to do whatever it takes to clean this mess up - let the chips fall where they may. attorney general, governor brown, what the hey lets meet with them all - bring those boxes of unmanipulated 'data' - just lay it all out there.

RESIGN or RECALL - the new mantra.

brand scheduled to speak wednesday night on prop o - what prop o? i do not believe there are any more dollars in the prop o account - my opinion the district has used those monies to 'balance' the districts financials. those perviewing the 'districts yearly audit' are aghast at the movement of monies, the borrowing. many are now calling for a forensic audit of the districts books; and rightfully so.

no turning back now, but what is needed are all of us calling whomever might add some bite to the bark. time for all of those regularatory entities to step in like they did in bell california.


joepublic Feb. 7, 2012 @ 9:42 a.m.

Another newspaper recently ran a story headlined "Is Sweetwater recall driven by teacher's union?" In the article Board president John McCann says, "Serving recall papers and having votes of no confidence are typical strategies that labor unions use to attack non-labor canditates." First of all, we should be grateful for anyone and everyone, individual or group, that gets behind the recall of these crooked politicians, and sorry Mr. McCann, but the the age old cry of "blame the unions" simply will not work this time around. As this article points out, the problem and cause for recall go far and deep. Your attack on labor unions is a poor attempt to divert the public's eye from the real issues. Shame on you. They say that those who don't remember history are condemned to repeat it. Thank you San Diego Reader for this important historical link.


anniej Feb. 7, 2012 @ 10:53 a.m.

interesting isn't it - when the police and fire unions supported him in the past he was the first one to applaud their endorsement. now, when 'the little man who wants to be king' endeavors to deflect the truth he attempts to throw the unions under the bus. funny thing is this, it was NOT the unions who came up with the recall drive; it has been being planned for SEVERAL months now - by regular people, like you and me. the fact that some who have backgrounds in organization and communication happen to be EDUCATORS a coincidence.

while not germaine to the issue the Republican Party has chosen to support this 'little man' - they are using the monies donated by true Republicans to pay for such things as Brown Act violations such as the robo call, the day of the board meeting - which advertised mccann's vote. a real uproar is beginning to swell - "why are we supporting such a person? he does not share our values, he is not what we are about"

interesting don't you think? that they do not realize that mccann's ship has sunk. he has alienated the veterans, he has alienated the taxpayers, he has alienated those who believe in fiscal responsibility, he has alienated the parents, he has alientated all of those who voted for him, and he has alienated his fellow board members (either by having them thrased by the secretary of the Republican party)or by his total arrogance and disrespect. to sum it up the community is a buzz about his behavior at the recent board meeting - sitting up there acting like a juvenile with severe emotional issues.

just my opinion


redevilaboveground Feb. 7, 2012 @ 10:10 a.m.

joepublic you are right about McCann trying to push blame on to the Unions but he is not the Board President. He was last year when most of the corruption took place and when he gave Gandara the sweetheart deal and hid the second legal oprion from the board. As stated earlier they could have fired him for cause and saved the District more than $500,000! The Board President is Pearl Quiñones but McCann continues to bypass her to get media attention and try to make himself the hero he isn't. Every attempt he tries such as the robo calls has backfired. The wolf is steadily snapping at his heals and he will soon get caught if BD does her work in an even handed manner.


anniej Feb. 7, 2012 @ 10:58 a.m.

the community is NOT waiting on Ms. Dumanis, with all due respect. no, others who have the power to rip back the layers of corruption are being presented with cold hard facts.

mccann is not the only one in their sites, cartmill as well - the quiet one - will have to answer as well.

in the mean time hopefully mccann will keep running his mouth which inevitably leads us to more VERY INTERESTING FACTS - WHAT A NIMNOL HE IS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


anniej Feb. 7, 2012 @ 12:31 p.m.

i need to retract a statement i made in my posts. the robot call that john mccann made THE DAY OF THE BOARD MEETING AND VOTE was NOT a brown act violation. in a meeting this morning with an entity charged with such things i was advised "while in extremely bad taste and an obvious act of desperation a brown act violation did not occur".

it is important that my comments remain factual.


Nickdanny Feb. 7, 2012 @ 1:10 p.m.

Most of these allegations are just that. Both the previous Southwestern College and current Sweetwater District Governing Boards and previous administrations did things by the book. That will come out. Many of these things are standard practice.These union people and community extremists are just trying to cause problems. They have no respect for hard working construction business that follow the rules of the free market. I mean really when you look at how much money was actually spent on things, it is tiny compared to the overall budget.


Pancho Feb. 7, 2012 @ 2:19 p.m.

@Nickdanny, are you joking? You really think the only people behind the recall movement ("causing problems" people) are the union people and community extremists? I can tell you for a fact that I am not a union member nor do I consider myself a community extremist and I support the recall. I have not signed the recall petition because I have not had the pleasure, but I do not know anybody in the south bay region that are satisfied with the status quo of the alleged corruption at SUHSD. Maybe you're right though, business of unethical behavior has been accepted for far too long and possibly a jury or the court system will do nothing to those that have been charged. That being said, any unethical behavior, regardless of the monetary value, should be addressed to the full extent of the law.


anniej Feb. 7, 2012 @ 7:56 p.m.

Nickdanny: obviously you have not taken the time to review the pdf's provided by the union tribune which came directly from the district attorney. those emails that ricasa and quinones sent, they typed them. those forms they did not fill out, their responsibility. those campaign donations in the thousands upon thousands, they were welcomed with open arms. those votes that those indicted were a part of, a matter of record.

with all due respect, the fact that they were dealing in millions of OUR TAX DOLLARS, and used those tax dollars for their own benefit i find reprehensible. truth be told all has not come out in the wash yet - community extremists aka antagonists HIP HIP HOORAY FOR THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!

take your pink button off or your blue ribbon and start educating yourself with the facts.

i do not care if it was one dollar that was used in this corruption, i expect more from those who choose to run for office. they are there to protect the youth, not line their pockets.

your ideology is like saying "he only robbed one branch of bank america" ridiculous, again with all due respect.


joepublic Feb. 7, 2012 @ 3:08 p.m.

redevilaboveground: Thanks for the correction regarding McCann being president last year and not now. You're also right about his pathetical and seemingly pathological need to appear heroic.


Visduh Feb. 7, 2012 @ 3:43 p.m.

This round-robin of supes in that district reminds me of the Teamsters in the late 50's when their national president, Dave Beck, was being unmasked by investigations, congressional testimony, etc. Beck was driven from his office and replaced by a reformer. Reformer's name: Jimmy Hoffa. He made Beck look like a piker and managed to avoid most of the fallout from his crooked management of the union, its pension trust funds, and his palling around with the Mob. So now we have Brand looking like a reformer, in the eyes of those who would accept the district as well-governed, although he left it under a cloud of sorts himself. Oh, I know! His cloud was smaller than Trujillo's cloud and Gandara's cloud, so that makes him the good guy, the reformer.

Yep, where is Bahnee in all this? Her efforts to date are like treating cancer with an aspirin. There's so much more to do.


anniej Feb. 7, 2012 @ 7:58 p.m.

Visduh: regarding brand: reformer NOT, head of ponzi schemes, YES.


Susan Luzzaro Feb. 7, 2012 @ 4:50 p.m.

Eastlaker, I have heard several people comment on the Mello-Roos funds lately. I don't fully understand it but it seems to be bubbling to the service and merits looking into.


anniej Feb. 7, 2012 @ 9:57 p.m.

Ms. Luzzaro: funny you mention the mello-roos funds, it appears that is the districts 'new cookie jar' - but remember what use to happen when you were little and were caught with your hand in the cookie jar? there is a storm brewing and it is going to be a hum dinger!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

anyone bothered to look at the districts yearly audits? follow the money.....


Susan Luzzaro Feb. 7, 2012 @ 5:04 p.m.

Hi NickDanny,

Regarding whether or not the Sweetwater board and previous administration or the Southwestern board and previous administration played by the books--I think what we are looking at here is not "union people and community extremists," rather a DA investigation and a number of indictments. Some people say there will be more indictments in the near future.

As you say, however, these are allegations and we will have to watch and see how this all plays out.


joepublic Feb. 7, 2012 @ 9:23 p.m.

NickDanny: In an earlier post you wrote, "These union people and community extremists are just trying to cause problems." Similar words can be found in a contract between FOCUSCOM, a PR firm run by Dan Hom, and Southwestern College. Southwestern paid them to “isolate and expose extremists” and “control the media". Your statement, intended or not, casts aspersions on a group of people trying their best to fix a problem. Yes, recall is an extreme action, but extreme problems usually call for extreme remedies.


anniej Feb. 7, 2012 @ 9:53 p.m.

ah yes, i so remember when the 'pr' firms were out in force, back when the journey to clean house first began. there they were monitoring everything that was said on the union tribune and Reader blogs. isolate and expose the extremists - for what - calling them out? painting the true picture of what was going on? it appears that those extremists were just what the dr ordered - and when i say dr. i am not referring to brand.

alvey communication, focuscom - both synonymous with the 'good old boys club' and 'pay to play'.

focuscom, i believe i heard that brand is still wheeling and dealing with him. hmmmmm, now why would that be?????????? damage control? when will this group learn?

at this point this community will settle for nothing less than a new superintendent, resignations or recall of the 3, a forensic audit of prop o and while they are at it take a look at the districts books as well.


redevilaboveground Feb. 13, 2012 @ 4:25 p.m.

anniej i would like to know when and how Dr. Brand is still wheeling & dealing with FOCUSCOM. In my opinion they are a big part of the problem! I don't know why anyone at SUHD would be pouring salt on an open wound!


cvres Feb. 8, 2012 @ 7:41 a.m.

One thing I was thing about... with a lot of negative publicity...and got another job Texas as superintendent--I wonder which one of the board members gave him a good recommendation?


anniej Feb. 8, 2012 @ 11:25 a.m.

Cvres: makes you wonder, that is for sure! trujillo allegedly attempts to profit from our old computers and then is chosen to lead once again. but then the same can be said for:

'the gandara' - one would have thought that jim cartmill and arlie ricasa would have done their homework before bringing 'the gandara' here to create chaos.

brand - one would have thought that 'whoever), my opinion is it was johnny boy mccann, brought brand back would have done some research and found the circumstances that led him to leave the last time i.e. grand jury investigation into prop bb and then there was the statement that the grand jury made in their closing words - something to the effect that an investigation needed to be done into other areas of suhsd business.

but if we take this a step further in our analysis - perhaps those that brought these '''persons''' to our district did do the research and LIKED WHAT THEY SAW.

no matter, we must stay focused on the tasks at hand like bringing in a new superintendent - one like the interim that Southwestern had.

forcing the 3 board members to RESIGN or we will RECALL.

continue to expose all that is wrong with our district. a few key areas are being investigated as i type - and it is not looking good for those that are suppose to be running the show. parents/taxpayers/students get ready - one of these items will definitely need your attention.


anniej Feb. 8, 2012 @ 2:34 p.m.

La Lucha: ALL you say is true - the reason i focused on john mccann is primarily due to the fact that mccann was the president of the board, ADDITIONALLY, it was john mccann who received the second opinion regarding 'the gandara' and FAILED TO SHARE IT WITH THE OTHER BOARD MEMBERS. quinones and lopez both have publicly stated they were never told of or shown a second opinion. so the question remains, WHY didn't mccann share the existence of such a legal opinion with his fellow board members? perhaps the board would have 'terminated' him vs 'retired' him.

EVERYTHING you say is right on target. cartmill received more monies from those contractors than any of the other board members. the fact that he filled out his forms correctly saved him SO FAR. remember though there is the law suit that the attorney referred to - he is looking to retrieve 45.1 million dollars of our prop o money back. when this law suit gets rolling i am sure much much more will be shared about mr. cartmill.

late filings with the registrar of voters, multiple amendments by cartmill for one month on those filings. all of the data is being compiled and looked at.

cartmill has been there far too long, far too long - as has ricasa.

interesting item - the secretary of the Republican party stood up at the last board meeting and publicly announced that he was the brains behind the filings against ricasa - the one that resulted in that fine of a few thousand dollars. wonder how that made ricasa feel? here were her two buddies cartmill and mccann throwing her under the bus long before she was indicted. then mccann comes out with his robo call stating he does not believe we should pay for their defenses. ah hello arlie, pearl are you reading this?????????

i have made no secret that i find mccann reprehensible as a board member. my personal opinion is that he does NOT belong in politics. not that the others do either. the community is sick of seeing him and sick of hearing him. no matter what the issue, it is all about HIM, the little man who wants to be king. his bizarre behavior at the last board meeting still has the community a buzz. there he was showing himself for what he is not - a professional. he proved me right, his behavior has often been bizarre to say the least perhaps off balance.

yes, cartmill and ricasa bringing 'the gandara' here was a strategic move on their parts i am sure. like minds and all. 'the gandara' walked away with the golden parachute, now indicted - and ricasa indicted as well. all the while jim bob sits back and smiles.

those in the community who started the RESIGN or RECALL movement see right thru cartmill that is why he was included. we all need to ban together and get the signatures needed because truth be told none of them will resign - they are too arrogant to do what is right.

the info you shared is most important, after all they were the 3 rat ta teers, cartmill, ricasa, and little johnny boy.


Visduh Feb. 8, 2012 @ 7:37 p.m.

It would be interesting to know just what university granted Gandara his doctorate. And, now that I'm thinking about it, the same would apply to Brand. And anyone else in that district who is parading around, calling him/herself "Doctor." Oh, those school administrators love to use that honorific in their everyday activities. Carries a ton of weight, especially in the less-educated areas and with parents who are unlikely to have even finished high school.

In recent years there have been schools offering the Ed.D. degree with only three years of PART-TIME study. Meaning that a school administrator, who should go home every night exhausted from all the demands of taking care of kids all day, can head off to a night school class, and in a short time, earn a "doctorate." One of them was started up here in SD County within the past 2-4 years, and the proponents were bragging about it. What other doctorate can be earned in three years PART TIME? Answer: there isn't any.

This is gaming the system, and one should not be surprised to learn that school administrators are most adept at it. These people don't care about education, don't care about kids, don't care about voters or the community. They care about themselves and their overpaid careers.

Gandara is little different than many members of the school administration cabal. He's just been more flagrant, blatant, and utterly corrupt than the others. But they're all blood brothers/sisters in a big racket, where they benefit and education suffers.


anniej Feb. 9, 2012 @ 11:57 a.m.

'the gandara's' thesis is on line for anyone interested to find it. i reviewed it about a year ago - not impressed, but that is just me.

do not kid yourself, brand is known for his intelligence; however he, in my opinion, has allowed all of it to go to waste; using his brain for shady ponzi schemes vs. true academia efforts.

while there are administrators who choose to smooze as a means of getting ahead we should not loose sight of all of the good administrators. the good ones truly care, have been frustrated with our district, yet have had to keep their mouths shut publicly or take the risk of being demoted or fired. 'the gandara' was notorious for it and i am hearing brand used his heavy hand as well on good administrators.

to all of those administrators who have helped with the unveiling of the truth i say THANK YOU, to all of those who sat on the fence afraid to act i say IT IS TIME TO GET OFF THE FENCE, and to all of those who simply play the game with the superintendent flavor of the year i say YOUR DAYS ARE NUMBERED. those of us involved in this fight are committed to see this thing thru - and we will not stop with those board members who have used their positions for personal and political gain - nor will we stop when we have influenced the search of a new superintendent - we will only be stopped when ALL IS WELL at suhsd - and that means those administrators who are totally inept; those who brought in consultant after consultant wasting the limited resources we currently have when truth be told there are many educators within our very district who are the best in the nation willing to share their knowledge FOR FREE.


ODen Feb. 12, 2012 @ 12:26 p.m.

Gandara and Trujillo are friends and co-workers! How did Cartmill on his plane trip to Texas not figure that out! I believe he knew it and welcomed the graft and corruption to continue.


eastlaker Feb. 12, 2012 @ 3:42 p.m.

Pretty much stands to reason. Glad others are deducing it.


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