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Sweetwater Union HS District Board Meeting Skips Public Comment

Maty Adato, speaking at the June 11 Sweetwater Union High School District board meeting
Maty Adato, speaking at the June 11 Sweetwater Union High School District board meeting

The Sweetwater Union High School District board is beleaguered. Two trustees, Arlie Ricasa and Pearl Quiñones, and former superintendent Jesus Gandara are under indictment. Two additional boardmembers, John McCann and Jim Cartmill, are the subjects of a recall. And the district is financially floundering.

Yet, it appears the district board is attempting to limit or curtail public input.

For most of the past year, public comment has been held at the beginning of the board meetings; this allows parents, students, and district employees to go home after they have addressed the board with their concerns. As the district came under increasing criticism, the board moved public comment to the end of the meeting.

On June 11, the board took it one step further. When the time arrived for public comment, board president Pearl Quiñones ended the meeting. “This meeting is recessed,” she announced, offering no further information. Members of the public who still wished to speak were confused. Alex Anguiano, president of the Sweetwater Education Association, took the microphone and asked, “Is the break for ten minutes?” The board did not return.

In a June 12 interview, Peter Scheer, an attorney and executive director for the California First Amendment Coalition, commented, “The Brown Act requires public comment at all board meetings.” Scheer said it’s possible you might have to adjourn suddenly if a member were ill, but he expressed surprise that the board chose to "recess." “In order to resume the meeting,” Sheer said, “the district has to give notice and post the agenda all over again.”

At the June 11 meeting, Maty Adato sought to place a $750 campaign contribution limitation for trustees on the agenda. In accordance with district bylaws, Adato said she mailed her proposal to interim superintendent Ed Brand in advance. She also copied the trustees, the media, and Chula Vista mayor Cheryl Cox. Brand, who is charged with creating the agenda, said he did not “recall” receiving the notice, though Cox and many others did. Nevertheless, Adato’s resolution was not placed on the agenda.

The board did accomplish something: they passed a revised bylaw that disallows the public from agendizing an issue that has been considered during the preceding 12 months (only boardmember Bertha Lopez voted against it). So, because the board refused to limit campaign contributions in December 2011, the issue cannot be revisited until after the November election.

The day after the meeting, on June 12, Adato wrote superintendent Brand, asking for an explanation. She shared his reply with the Reader:

“I did not recall this email which I thank you for resending.... I believe organizations must make difficult decisions but when they are made they should be carried out. Your request [to reagendize the $750 campaign donation limit] falls under the latest policy the board approved last night. If all we do is rehash the past and 2nd guess decisions nothing gets done. I am disappointed that you feel the way you do but do not apologize for bringing the items forward for action.… I have yet to hear from you about one thing the district is doing right which demonstrates a more fundamental issue…. Lee Iacoca said it best, Lead follow or get out of the way…. All the best, Ed”

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Maty Adato, speaking at the June 11 Sweetwater Union High School District board meeting
Maty Adato, speaking at the June 11 Sweetwater Union High School District board meeting

The Sweetwater Union High School District board is beleaguered. Two trustees, Arlie Ricasa and Pearl Quiñones, and former superintendent Jesus Gandara are under indictment. Two additional boardmembers, John McCann and Jim Cartmill, are the subjects of a recall. And the district is financially floundering.

Yet, it appears the district board is attempting to limit or curtail public input.

For most of the past year, public comment has been held at the beginning of the board meetings; this allows parents, students, and district employees to go home after they have addressed the board with their concerns. As the district came under increasing criticism, the board moved public comment to the end of the meeting.

On June 11, the board took it one step further. When the time arrived for public comment, board president Pearl Quiñones ended the meeting. “This meeting is recessed,” she announced, offering no further information. Members of the public who still wished to speak were confused. Alex Anguiano, president of the Sweetwater Education Association, took the microphone and asked, “Is the break for ten minutes?” The board did not return.

In a June 12 interview, Peter Scheer, an attorney and executive director for the California First Amendment Coalition, commented, “The Brown Act requires public comment at all board meetings.” Scheer said it’s possible you might have to adjourn suddenly if a member were ill, but he expressed surprise that the board chose to "recess." “In order to resume the meeting,” Sheer said, “the district has to give notice and post the agenda all over again.”

At the June 11 meeting, Maty Adato sought to place a $750 campaign contribution limitation for trustees on the agenda. In accordance with district bylaws, Adato said she mailed her proposal to interim superintendent Ed Brand in advance. She also copied the trustees, the media, and Chula Vista mayor Cheryl Cox. Brand, who is charged with creating the agenda, said he did not “recall” receiving the notice, though Cox and many others did. Nevertheless, Adato’s resolution was not placed on the agenda.

The board did accomplish something: they passed a revised bylaw that disallows the public from agendizing an issue that has been considered during the preceding 12 months (only boardmember Bertha Lopez voted against it). So, because the board refused to limit campaign contributions in December 2011, the issue cannot be revisited until after the November election.

The day after the meeting, on June 12, Adato wrote superintendent Brand, asking for an explanation. She shared his reply with the Reader:

“I did not recall this email which I thank you for resending.... I believe organizations must make difficult decisions but when they are made they should be carried out. Your request [to reagendize the $750 campaign donation limit] falls under the latest policy the board approved last night. If all we do is rehash the past and 2nd guess decisions nothing gets done. I am disappointed that you feel the way you do but do not apologize for bringing the items forward for action.… I have yet to hear from you about one thing the district is doing right which demonstrates a more fundamental issue…. Lee Iacoca said it best, Lead follow or get out of the way…. All the best, Ed”

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Comments
79

"get out of the way"????????????????? are you kidding me?

it is a sad day in the South Bay when a person such as Ms. Adato is disrespected in such a manner!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

he is this upset simply because Ms. Adato is trying to bring campaign contribution limitations and no gift policies before the board? WHY??????????????? is Ms. Adato simply trying to prevent a replay of the last elections?, and this is what she gets???????????????

it is a rare occasion indeed when i am at a loss for words, this is one of those rare occasions.

June 13, 2012

WOW! First, they violate the Brown Act on June 11 by not allowing any public comment at an open meeting of a public agency;

Next, they re-write the District's By-Laws regarding agenda items, which is again in blatant violation of the Brown Act -- there is nothing in the Brown Act that permits the District to require a 12-month hiatus on any topic before it appears on an agenda again. ANY MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC HAS A RIGHT TO HAVE AN ITEM ON THE AGENDA...PER THE BROWN ACT.

Then Dr. Brand has the hubris to talk down to a member of the public who has sought to put an item on the agenda within her absolute rights under the Brown Act?

I am aghast, as should be everyone in the District's boundaries.

The Brown Act is law, and violations should be investigated by Grand Jury and DA.

With regard to finances, the County Office of Education has the option to order up an 'extraordinary audit'....why haven't they?

June 13, 2012

Mr. Brand is saying that Ms Adato's campaign limitation proposal cannot be considered because of the restrictive policy adopted that evening. Shouldn't the new policy begin that evening and not be retroactive?

June 13, 2012

It appears that the board president and Dr. Brand have forgotten this is a democracy. Trying to run rough shod over the public to try and control them is not only wrong it shows that they are loosing control. Now the president recesses the meeting without letting the public have their comment time, what the he-- is going on. We know Ms Quiones doesn't know how to run a board meeting but to deprive the public of their right to speak is board meeting basics. It had to have been deliberate. I guess Brand is using a willing puppet to wield his unethical means of control. There is a saying what goes around comes around. Trying to put people on hold for a year to prevent people from trying to stop the pay to play culture is not a smart thing to do when your under indictment board members. Don't you see what this makes you look like. We see you for what you truly are.I doubt that Pearl will get the Democratic endorsement because of these types of actions. Take the ring out of your nose Pearl and dance to your own drummer Madame president. Brand could care less for you and he will end up sacrificing you for Cameron and you won't even see it coming.

June 13, 2012

Erupting: wow that is what is happening at our district. like a volcano that is about ready to blow. what is triggering the long over due eruption of the taxpayers is found between the lines of brand's rant.

the difference between Iacoca and brand is that Iacoca used sound financial policies to set his organization straight. Iacoca, DID NOT, view depleting all of the companies revenues - NO, he was honest - WE ARE BROKE!!!!!!!!! he then borrowed money from the government and began to rebuild. so for you ed brand to quote Iacoca as if you are using his sound business practices to rebuild this district is lunacy.

you have been caught - you are continuing to borrow prop o bond monies. you are ANGRIER THAN HELL and you are LASHING OUT!!! how dare Ms. Adato question the infamous ed brand. you have lost control and you do not like it. the 'antagonists' are your achilles heel - they met with you they believed in you and you failed. now, for them, it is back to square one, when they began their plight to expose all that was and continues to be wrong with sweetwater.

the community and the 'antagonists' do not want contractors or legal counsels donating thousands upon thousands into our board member campaigns. the community and the 'antagonists' do not want the district borrowing from prop o. the community and the 'antagonists' do not want the you/district borrowing from mello roos funds to make payroll. the community and the 'antagonists' do not want our educators pool cut by 200. the community and the 'antagonists' do not want to face the inevitable - master schedules that will result in total chaos for most likely the first 6 weeks of school. dr. brand, you have failed - perhaps it was too far gone when you came - but you owed us honesty - not betrayal, not fiduciary irresponsibility (i.e. paying for mccann's legal defense over his alleged threatened assault), and certainly not intimidation of one of the known 'antagonists' - and a well respected humanitarian.

the 'antagonists' are NOT GETTING OUT OF THE WAY - let me also share an old John Wayne saying:

PARTNER, PERHAPS, IT IS TIME FOR YOU TO GET OUT OF DODGE, WHILE THE GETTIN' IS GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

June 14, 2012

It is if Brand operates in a parallel universe--one devoid of any semblance of ethics. For someone in his position, I would think it would be better to at least maintain the forms of acceptable social interaction, but even that is apparently too much to ask.

Soon we hope all this will be past, and the memory of Brand will be like that grease stain on the carpet--annoying, but ultimately cleaned up.

But we have work to do to pluck Brand and his entourage from their current--teetering--seats of power. Events such as the last board meeting serve to arm us with greater resolve. We will take him out, just like that grease stain!

June 13, 2012

Although the Sweetwater Board went through an ethics training earlier this year, they continue to commit unethical and possibly illegal acts. Therefore one can conclude that they are knowingly acting in an illegal and unethical manner - and don't care. Doesn't that just about say it all?

There have been so many complaints filed against them for Brown Act violations, it is ridiculous. But to no avail... no one seems to care that the Board and (interim?) Superintendent feel they are immune from the law and from the interests of the citizens who elected them. Their arrogance is appalling - clearly demonstrated by recessing the meeting before public comment and by Brand's response to Ms. Adato. The leadership of the district does not believe they are accountable to anyone but themselves.

Sweetwater needs new leaders who care about the district's staff, students and families more than about themselves. We are tired of the political and selfish motivations that influence decisions. WE WANT CHANGE NOW.

June 14, 2012

Use registered mail next time.

June 14, 2012

and certified

June 15, 2012

Are you aware that Dr. Brand received death threats during labor negotiations several years ago? He's not likely to forget that very easily. So my advice to all is to do your homework, file the Brown Act complaints, learn the ins and outs of the Mello-Roos law, find out exactly who controls the district purse strings, and keep asking questions. And Dr. Brand, if you are following these comments, then please try to remember that you and your wife were once teachers who taught in the Sweetwater District. Try walking in those shoes again. How would the young Ed Brand feel about the actions of this current board and administration after he received a pink slip? Would he not also question the right of Indicted board members to continue serving on the board? Wouldn't he question the generous contracts being made with Diane Russo and Ed Brand and associates? And I cannot possibly imagine that he would think its okay to play the STRS system by drawing a full pension, along with contractual "fees".

June 14, 2012

Greenville: i Sir, do not condone ANY type of violence - for any person to make such a threat is UNACCEPTABLE. i see can why that would have been a difficult time for Dr. Brand and i am sorry that he would have to go thru such a stressful time. those who threatened him should BE ASHAMED OF THEMSELVES!

having said that i believe it is important to note (i believe i said these same words about a year ago) - the 'antagonists' average age is about 55. they have no financial interests in their quest to clean up the district. there one and only goal is ensuring that the students in the sweetwater school district are receiving the best education possible.

currently they are witnessing massive amounts of monies being used irresponsibly. i.e. the majority of the board voted to give the incoming 7th graders IPADS. these IPADS would take the place of books and carry them thru graduation. what they failed to research is the fact that IPADS only last approximately 3 years. soooooooo, in 3 years we will be purchasing IPADS not only for the incoming 7th graders by for the 10th graders as well.

then we have the million plus, that has to date, allegedly been spent on the new charter school. if our district is failing to do a good enough job to keep parents from enrolling their children in the elementary school charter schools what make brand believe that the title 'charter' is going to change the real facts of the issue?

the district tells the taxpaying community WE ARE BROKE, then turns around and makes decisions that are financially irresponsible.

remember the evening of the Hilltop High board meeting when the board failed to make a motion regarding paying for those indicted board members legal bills? note they did not vote the agenda item down, they simply chose to not act on it - what does that tell you about their integrity or their fiduciary responsibility?

then, last month brand authorizes john mccann's alleged threatened assault court case defense to be paid for - even after the judge refused to issue the restraining order due to a conflict in mccann's initial police statement and the statement he submitted to the courts.

it is important in life to be man/woman enough to acknowledge when you have lost the confidence of others and move on. that time has come for brand and a few others at the district. why any professional would prefer being driven out vs. leaving on their own is a concept i do not understand.

brand came in speaking of the legacy he would leave when he left this interim superintendent position - from my vantage point that legacy will be one he will be proud of when he is older and has time to reflect back.

June 14, 2012

Good points Greenville. And how would Ed Brand-the-teacher's email to a parent/community member like the one Ms Adato received, have been looked upon by his supervisors? My guess is his personnel file would contain a severe reprimand including a strong directive to never repeat such an unprofessional act. If Interim-superintendent-consultant-Brand doesn't hear from the school board about his totally unacceptable, unprofessional behavior and attitude towards Ms Adato, then we, the public, have been collectively slapped in the face with the board's approval.

June 14, 2012

OMG this man has definite anger management problems speaking to the public in such a fashion. Based on what I have seen at the meetings Ms. Adato and the other people that sit with her research the agenda and probably know more information about the district and its past history then the board. Dr. Brand this was uncalled for and the antics of the board as well as yourself are completely not of professionals. What will be next a bogus filing of a TRO against these people? What a shame that it has come to this don't you think you should step down now I think the pressure is getting to you!

June 14, 2012

Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't this type of thinking that has landed two (2) current board member, one (1) past board member, and the old superintendent in court facing felony indictments?

Mr. Brand's response to Ms. Adato borders on intimidation and is most unprofessional. I know of Adato's reputation with her non profit volunteering. She and those that sit on the committee have worked long and hard to promote the best that education has to offer in our area. Her reputation is one that warrants respect, not pompous arrogance.

It is disappointing to see that it is business as usual at Sweetwater. Mr. Brand has a long reputation dating back to the Prop BB days, then too there were concerns regarding how he was overseeing the bond finances. As I remember the Grand Jury issued its decision and insinuated that all was not well. I believe they recommended an audit or investigation; all of a sudden Mr. Brand and other influentials were submitting their resignations.

Brand has a well known reputation of being a tyrant. That is one of the reasons he 'left' his position as superintendent up north. The story goes he 'told' a committee that they would hire the wife of one of his friends. There were also major concerns regarding his ideas of raising money. The two cultures clashed as the north county was not as easily led as we were down here; and soon after he was gone.

After reading this article I am left to think that perhaps it is time the authorities take a look at the books. If no wrong doing is going on why is the superintendent and the cfo fighting so hard to stop what inquiring minds wants to know. Those inquiring minds, are, after all, footing the bill.

Ms. Adato simply verbalized what the residents want, we want our elections free from the influence of big money. Mr. Brand owes Ms. Adato an apology, now let us see if he is man enough to offer one.

June 14, 2012

This school board needs to consult their attorney (who is present at all board meetings) before they take potentially litigious action like they did last Monday evening when they stopped the meeting right before public communications. It seems the Brown Act was violated, and maybe first amendment rights. Isn't this why we, the taxpayers, pay a lawyer to be there?

June 14, 2012

It just gets a little worse every day in that district. All the many aggrieved citizens could individually or collectively file lawsuits--and there are probably attorneys who would handle such a thing pro bono--and really tie up the operation and result in further squandering of public funds intended to educate kids. But with this sort of antics going on, what other course of action can they take that they're not already taking? Good luck, folks, you're gonna need it.

June 14, 2012

Right--we don't want to squander any more public funds!

But how do you stop a bunch who are as out of control as this bunch is?

It is as if they are collectively lacking in any sense of right and wrong--amoral, if you will. Money must be everything for them. Self-respect must mean nothing. The legacy they leave the students--now and in the future--not even being considered.

Because they are in it strictly for themselves.

And for this, they must be stopped in their tracks and punished along legal guidelines.

June 14, 2012

Bonitaresident, You say "perhaps it's time the authorities take a look at the books..."

From an investigative point of view, I'm wondering who the authorities would be in this case? The County Board of Education?

I do know an audit was authorized at the last meeting.

June 14, 2012

1)It is my understanding that the County Office of Education has oversight of school districts' financial staus and irregularities, and has the authority to order 'extraordinary' audits of individual districts when necessary.

2)Violations of the Brown Act are violations of a State law and should be brought to the Office of the District Attorney for prosecution.

June 14, 2012

Today I called the County Board of Education, and their system seems to be designed to make it difficult to speak with someone. However, here is what I found out.

Mello-Roos funds are collected by the county and distributed by the county treasury, into designated county accounts, i.e. one for SUSHD, one for Chula Vista Elementary, and so forth. This is a monthly distribution and follows a "stated distribution program". The Board of Education handles 35 out of the 42 school districts' finances. Not SUHSD, however. Sweetwater bought their own program "years ago". So whatever oversight the county has, it apparently isn't much. I was told the man to ask about all this is Brent Watson (858)292-3537, who is the Executive Director of District Financial Services. Looks like the county is just going to wash its hands of the whole thing.

June 14, 2012

Eastlaker: Great info, and kudos for pursuing. I believe, however, that the County Office of Education has a statutory responsbility for oversight (not just the accounting) of the school districts within their jurisdiction. There is some web-based info on role of County Offices of Education per the Ed Code.

June 14, 2012

Eastlaker: go to www.scoe.org/files/statutory_functions.pdf for the full document. Here is just an excerpt: GENERAL DUTIES OF COUNTY SUPERINTENDENTS OF SCHOOLS: Education Code § 12402 describes the general statutory duties of the county superintendent. This section was significantly amended by the legislation enacted to implement the settlement of the Williams, et al v. State of California, et al. lawsuit. Section 1240 states that county superintendents shall: (a) Superintend the schools of his or her county. (b) Maintain responsibility for the fiscal oversight of each school district in his or her county.

June 14, 2012

So we conclude that the county superintendent has avoided all responsibility, or maybe will claim they were mislead by SUHSD's financial people and Brand/Gandara.

Under this system, how can you ensure that someone takes responsibility for the financial maneuvers?

What is the legal recourse at this time?

June 14, 2012

Good questions eastlaker! It looks like a new board member for the San Diego County of Education will be elected if Lyn Nealon keeps her lead in the vote count for District 2, which covers the South Bay. Perhaps she is the one to ask the big question of the County Superintendent about just how long it will take for the Sweetwater antics to get on that radar screen.

If she does win the seat, I am not sure when she will be sworn in.

If she does not prevail in the vote count, it would be up to the current holder of the seat on the County Board ( who has past ties to the SUHSD) and who apparently continues to sit on his hands in this matter.

June 14, 2012

Oskidoll: Nealon is getting my vote, Rindone has done little to nothing in this issue. This situation has been on going for close to four years now; what was Rindone waiting for?

June 14, 2012

Rindone wants to get r e-elected. Someone observed earlier that this was going to be a campaign issue in November. We should start asking Rindone why the county board hasn't taken action. He can place an item on the agenda just as easily as the next person. Unless, of course, he's afraid of offending his funding sources. Hmmm. Rindone. Need to check his major campaign donor list.

June 15, 2012

Reply to Greenville and Bonitaresident: The election for County Office of Education Board was on the June 5 ballot. It was Nealon vs. Rindone. The final 3000 ballots are being counted now, with Nealon with a less than one percent lead (about 875 votes ahead). It looks like she will be the new Board Member for District 2, replacing Rindone.

However, I do not know when the swearing in will take place (when she will officilally take office.). In the meantime, surely Rindone might do at least one good deed for the citizens of the South County before he leaves office?

June 15, 2012

Okay, we handle our own finances. What does that mean exactly. Do we have our own bank accounts separate from SDCOE? In other words, do we withdraw our money each month and put it someplace else? And while we're on the subject, what about other funds from the state and federal government? Are they held by the county or withdrawn and put into another bank?

June 15, 2012

All really good questions--I certainly don't know the answers. Diane Russo(I think that's her name) would--she took retirement and then returned (after Gandara skedaddled back to friendlier territory).

I was lead to believe that the Mello-Roos funds remain in a standing account with SD county treasury. Don't know about what is required for a withdrawal, whether or not the withdrawal should be accompanied by any verification that it is part of an infrastructure-building plan.

But I'm sure there are irregularities just waiting to be discovered.

June 15, 2012

Ms. Susan: Surely The County Board of Education reads the papers. It is my understanding that Mr. Brand has friends at the County, perhaps that is why they have failed to act. I am told there is a group who attends the board meetings that helped in bringing in the city attorneys office; from what I have read I am quite confident that they are pursuing all avenues of assistance. I would hate to be the County once this can of worms is opened as there will be some tough questions that are going to need answering from those charged with overseeing the district.

June 14, 2012

Bonitaresident: As mentioned by others - just what has rindone been doing thru all of this?

answer: NOT A THING!!!!!!!!!!!! time for him to go. when he was contacted about two years ago about the alleged corruption early on in all of this - his response "i will have my secretary contact you". I AM STILL WAITING FOR THAT CALL - bet he would have handled it personally if it would have been a big campaign contribution.

June 15, 2012

Don't wait for the county of the state to do anything. They have proven over the past couple of years they are not going to do anything. Get involved and help collect signatures to get rid of the majority of this board (Cartmill, Mccann, Ricasa) that carries the vote for every item that comes across this agenda.

June 17, 2012

http://www.senate.michigan.gov/sfa/Publications/Notes/1999Notes/NotesJanFeb99Arasim.PDF

Here's another link to an article that talks about states that have disbanded school boards. Do we have a friendly legislator on our team? More homework to do.

June 14, 2012

Taking a look at that list, it seems that those schools were very problematic and the students were "underperforming".
As opposed to this situation, in which the Superintendent and the Board of Trustees are the ones underperforming.

And Brand and Associates is being paid $20,000 a month to underperform. Terrific!

June 14, 2012

Eastlaker: I am told that our entire district is under Program Improvement. If we take the legal issues, combine them with the financial issues, and then add the Program Improvement issue it seems as though there is more than enough reason for the State to disband this group.

June 14, 2012

Well, yes, but the Program Improvement label gets thrown around rather easily, I believe if there is one group in program improvement in a school, the entire school is considered to be in Program Improvement even if the school has great API scores, high pass rates for AP tests and all the other goodies. So, yes, if it helps to use the Program Improvement label, ok--just remember that you are using a very small group to label the whole, in many instances.

June 14, 2012

I received several tips today. Thank you. I will do my best to pursue them.

June 14, 2012

I felt compelled to blog on this story and to thank two people who actually led the way to try and get the resolution passed, one is Ms. Nancy Stubbs who brought this before the board in November and the board stayed quiet, very quiet. There was never a vote taken nor discussion and the other person was Mr. Perno who also tried to get this on the agenda to no avail. I thank them for giving me the insight to pursue this issue further.

Now I find it strange that Mr. McCann in an email to the UT stated he wanted a resolution to end gifts to board members and he wanted the item placed on the agenda. If that is so I wonder why he did not vote to have an exception or exemption before voting on this particular item. The only one that voted NO was Ms. Lopez so a question comes to mind was this for positive press or did he just want to limit gifts but have the thousands of dollars keep rolling in from vendors and contractors to the campaigns.

Regarding the closing quote from Dr. Brands email he quoted from Mr. Lee Ioacoca "Lead follow or get out of the way" I take that in stride because I am trying to lead, I will never follow you nor this board of trustees and there is no way I am getting out of the way until the students, staff and community can be proud of this district once again. What a shame it has come to this and all because Dr. Brand and the board dont see fit to play by the rules yet again.

June 14, 2012

Ms. Adato: Your poignant comment about sums it up. This issue has become a major source of discussion in our area, it appears that many are beginning to take notice of just how bad it has become. I voted for the newest board member and he has left me wishing I had chosen the other candidate. His failure to be results oriented is indeed a major disappointment. I thought I was voting for change, but in truth all my vote led to was more of the same if not worse.

June 14, 2012

matyadato: As I wrote earlier, I believe you can bring your request to place campaign contribution limitations to the next board meeting, and they will have to put it on the agenda. Their new policy states that they don't have to agendize items that have been considered within a twelve month period. The way I read it, the clock starts now and since it has not been agendized nor considered since the new policy was adopted, they should have to place it on the agenda. Am I missing something here? What do you think?

June 14, 2012

You should check the District's by-laws about posting items on the agenda. The agenda is prepared in advance, that is why the Brown Act requires 72 hours prior notice to post the agenda for the public to see. However, I believe there is a requirement that the items be submitted in advance (by some deadline) and so it might be legitimately rebuffed if just 'presented' for consideration at the meeting.

June 15, 2012

oskidoll: you will find this interesting, a few months ago there was a three day holiday - district employees were off on friday. the board meeting was going to be the following monday - one would think the board agenda would have been on line thursday evening right? not a chance, brand waited till friday to have it posted for the public. and people wonder why we are fed up.

June 15, 2012

The Brown Act requires 72 hours notice of the agenda for a public meeting. If the angency meets that requirement, they are within the requirements. Friday posting for a Monday meeting seems to meet the minimum requirement of the law.

June 15, 2012

Oskidoll: not disputing their meeting the requirement, commenting on their trifling behavior by not putting it up thursday at 5:00, since friday was a holiday. did we pay someone to go in on a holiday?

the only persons this affects are those members of the public who speak - takes quite a bit of time to review and research those agenda items - not that the board would know anything about researching.

June 16, 2012

Anniej: I understand that it would be 'nice' for the SUHSD officials to be considerate of the public's needs, but we know that just is not going to happen. A friend once told me, "Do not expect sober behavior from a drunk." I think the best we can hope or expect is that the district will at a minimum maintain the deadline for posting the agenda for public inspection -- 72 hours in advance of scheduled meeting. There are exceptions for 'emergencies' and 'special meetings' -- which are carefully defined -- so keep your eyes out for those, too. Wouldn't hurt for everyone to download a copy of the Brown Act and wave it under their nosees. Sadly, they have shown time after time that they do not respect the public's rights and are weasling around the Brown Act. The whole intent of the Brown Act is that 'the public's business will be done in public.'

June 16, 2012

Oskidoll: "wave it in front of their noses" - hell, we could wipe their noses with the Brown Act and it would not mean a thing. it is apparent that at this point they have totally lost control and as far as the interest, well not sure if it was ever really there.

love what your friend told you - i will have to remember that during times of frustration.

June 16, 2012

Thank you Joepublic I will try yet again to have this placed on the agenda for next month. Now let's see if they make another resolutions to have this resolution retroactive. After trying to get them to listen to so many things and just getting a blind stare back I would put nothing past them.

June 14, 2012

Please make sure you submit the item in advance, per the district's own by-laws, and have someone sign for it or send it certified mail return receipt requested so Brand can't claim it was not received.

June 15, 2012

matyadato: what joepublic said is so true, what are they going to try and do ignore this issue forever. I don't think they can go back in time and pick and choose what they want to be included in this yearly resolution. The clock should start ticking from June 11 and forward. I really hope you do this so that now they will have no where to hide, they will have to show their real colors and actually vote!

June 15, 2012

Why wouldn't John McCann support Ms. Adato's resolution? He says that he is in favor of limiting gifts--belatedly. Supporting a limit to campaign donations, or supporting someone who is bringing forward that resolution, seems like a logical extension.

Brand's email is disturbing. When a superintendent has contempt for taxpayers and residents, it's time for him to go.

June 15, 2012

Just wondering--is Brand and Associates incorporated in Nevada, Montana, Florida or another state without state income tax?

June 15, 2012

Sorry, but Montana has a state income tax, and a rather stiff one at that. What is lacks is a state sales tax. Try Delaware (Joe Biden's home state) if you want tax shelter/avoidance.

June 15, 2012

Yes, I'm not an expert at much of anything, just trying to figure some things out.

Guess I'm lucky just to play with the big kids!

June 15, 2012

Cvres: why wouldn't john mccan support ms. adato's resolution? now that is a very good question, it appears mccann is doing what mccann does - speaking with forked tongue.

a quick review of his board campaign contributors about sums it all up.

June 15, 2012

Eastlaker: A quick google search shows that Ed Brand and Associates incorporated in the State of California August 14, 2007, with an address in Escondido.

June 15, 2012

Thanks. I don't know why I was thinking that he might have done something like incorporate out of state.

June 15, 2012

And, after all, they did get Al Capone on tax violations!!

June 17, 2012

I have to hand it to Brand, he definitely knows how to back hand someone with words. Not permitting public comment is a clear violation of the Brown Act and it should be reported to the California Attorney General's Office as well as the California Department of Education.

June 15, 2012

After reading what Brand said, he appears to have a personality that needs to be stroked. Classic case of an ego-maniac.

June 15, 2012

Have to agree with you, but would add grandiosity--and a couple of other borderline assessments.

June 15, 2012

it is worth mentioning that ms. adato is not new to protecting the tax dollars of the south bay. several years ago she and others went to the Grand Jury regarding the bond monies of Prop BB and brand. part of their investigation was a recommendation that an thorough investigation be done regarding the monies and other things. shortly after the release of that recommendation - brand a few others 'decided' to leave the district. i believe that was back in around 2004 or so. so lets look at this number for a minute and consider this fact - MUCH has been wrong with sweetwater for a very long time. two (2) of our current board members have been there a very long time - cartmill and ricasa.

if cartmill and ricasa have continuously failed us for all of these years - there is not hope they will ever be able to lead or protect the students and taxpaying community of the south bay.

with this information in hand one has to ask themselves this question: why would john mccann ever, ever have brought brand back to begin with?

June 15, 2012

Good 'Ol Boys Network -- Go Along / Get Along

June 15, 2012

Annie: [re comment of June 14]
How could anyone ever "believe in" Brand, considering his record? I found it amazing that he was brought back to help clean up the district. Was there no one else who would take the job?

June 15, 2012

Peachy: i am ashamed to say i was like many others and not involved in what was going on at sweetwater when brand was here last time. i was told, and even scolded early on upon his return when i called for all to give him a chance. that, well, let us just say it did not last long - he began to show his true colors and i was less than impressed.

john mccann allegedly brought him here, why, well no one really knows - in retrospect i am sure it was one of those "hey eddy boy, i understand you and i have a great deal in common ------------".

June 16, 2012

Susan: I did some further digging and found this website, "www.sdtreastax.com/oversight-committee.html"

Purpose is to 'promote public interest by involving depositors in the management of their funds and by enhancing the security and investment return on their funds by providing more stable and predictable balance for investment by establishing criteria for the withdrawal of funds.' Next meeting is July 18 at 1:30, conference room 162 (address unspecified)

So they must know something. There is a representative from the County School Board.

Minutes are posted, but are very spare, so there is no real info.

June 15, 2012

good digging eastlaker. I'm thinking it would be at the county bldg given the web address. will find out.

June 16, 2012

"Our hope is that by coming to the community in a spirit of good will and openness, we will usher in a new era of collaboration and communication." -Ed Brand, Superintendent's column, June 2011.

Failing to lead the district in this new direction and unwilling to follow the wishes of the public, Dr. Brand should take his own advice and get out of the way. Sweetwater really needs a breath of fresh air. The search for a new superintendent, and I mean fresh, not another local administrator with potential ties to anyone, should begin now.

June 16, 2012

Joepublic: a few weeks ago another community member raised a good point. do we really want a superintendent that the majority of THIS BOARD have chosen? i am thinking NO. lets wait to vote quinones out and RECALL the other 3 - then, with new board leadership we can begin the new search

just a thought -

June 16, 2012

On the other hand, there is always the thought of the further damage the schemes of Brand will create. He is spinning so far out of control we just can't tell what he will try and do next.

Maybe the Trustees will have to locate their spinal columns and work to contain his excesses? But that is truly wishful thinking...

June 16, 2012

FYI, the County Office of Education's next scheduled meeting is July 11, 2 p.m. at the County Office of Education headquarters on Linda Vista Road. Lora Duzyk is the Assistant Superintendent for Business Services.

Go to their website, www.sdcoe.net/business2 , to look up a report (use menu on left side of page) on an Extraordinary Audit performed at the SDCOE's behest on Eagles Peak Charter School in 2007, under the asupices of AB 139.

It appears the SDCOE DOES have the authority and responsbility to intervene and audit questionable school practices within their juristiction. It seems it is time to suggest that they do that job in Sweetwater.

June 18, 2012

Oskidoll: "It seems it is time to suggest that they do that job in Sweetwater". I agree, however I am told that Lora Duzyk is an old dear friend of both Ed Brand (Interim Superintendent) and Dianne Russo (CFO). Might that be the reason it has not happened?

June 18, 2012

Bonitaresident: Regardless of who knows whom and who may or may not be old friends with whom, it is the DUTY of the County Board of Education to oversee fiscal conditions of the schools in their jurisdiction. But, sleeping dogs will be allowed to lie unless the public demands that the County Board do its job. There are five elected board members who 'direct' the County Superintendent, who is supposed to 'direct' the employees who report to him.

June 19, 2012

oskidoll, do you know if there will be people at the July meeting, or if anyone is discussing getting an audit agendized? Thanks, Susan

June 20, 2012

Hello Susan, I do not know if there are any plans to attend the July 11 meeting of the County Board of Education (it's in the afternoon), but it is the place to take complaints and concerns about any fiscal irregularities at SUHSD, as well as questions about possible comingling or 'borrowing' from Mello-Roos or bond fund(s) by the district's general fund.

The County Board of Education (the County Superintendent) is charged with oversight of school districts' finances, and thus has the capacity to order an extraordinary audit to learn for themselves what is really going on in order to exercise that oversight.

It is NOT, however, the place to take any complaints or concerns about other matters (such as Brown Act violations, etc, ) and I would advise anyone planning to address the County Board of Education to stick to the one topic over which the CBOE does have jurisdiction--- fiscal matters.

Making other 'complaints' or allegations will muddy the water in that venue and might even County BOE Board Members an opportunity to sweep their responsibility for fiscal oversight under the carpet saying they do not have oversight of the other matters.

Best to stick to the single topic, and come armed with specifics and evidence of the district's lack of response to public inquiries about fiscal matters and suspected irregularities. I suspect their feet will need to be held to the fire in public in order to get any action, but it IS their responsbility, however 'uncomfortable' they may be with that reality.

June 20, 2012

oskidoll, can do my own homework, but is there a time for the meeting, an agenda?

Does anyone know anything about the board member who appears to be on the cusp of being elected? Candidate will be certified July 5.

June 21, 2012

susan, there is no agenda posted yet, and the master calendar on the SDCOE website does not show a specific time for the regular meeting July 11. The June meeting was at 2 p.m.; however, the May meeting was at 6 p.m. A call to the Board Secretary should yield the actual time of the July meeting.

The candidate who seems to be willing the seat for District 2, currently held by Rindone, is Lyn Nealon. I think she is a professor (ESL) at Cuyamaca College. She is currently leading in the very close vote count (less than 1 percent difference) by 920 votes, with about 1,000 left to count, according to the Registrar of Voters website. Rindone would have to get almost all of the remaining ballots to pull it out, and that is possible but unlikely.

June 21, 2012

Oskidoll: rindone lost many a vote when he failed to represent the community of the south bay in the NUMEROUS alleged sweetwater issues - and yes he was contacted. still waiting for his secretary to get back to me, she was out to lunch - been waiting for a little more than a year - some lunch huh? now that is reprehensible. this community should NOT have had to call rindone in - he should have been on top of the mess of sweetwater like a fly to buttermilk - but he left us out to dry - to fend for ourselves, and you know what we have done a pretty good job on our own, WITHOUT any kind of representation by the county board of ed.

county board of ed - so lets remove rindone from the equation, what the rest of them do not read??????? when i contacted the head of the county board of ed i was basically told (paraphrasing) 'we don't get involved'. well hell, what are you there for window dressing????????

sooner or later questions will be raised to the county by 'suits' and they had better have a better response than 'we don't get involved' - because here is a 411 for the county board of education - we already know that you don't get involved!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

June 26, 2012

Hello anniej: Please see my message posted of June 20. I realize it is frustrating to have any bureauracy say 'we aren't responsbile for THAT' or 'we don't get involved'. Sometimes they aren't, and sometimes they don't.

That is why is is necessarily strategic to take them to the mat only for those very things they are supposed to be responsible for...don't expect them to deal with anything else. If you mix the 'supposed tos' with the 'not responsbile fors' they will lump them all together in the 'not responsible for' category and discard all complaints in a lump.

However, the County Board of Education is required by statute (law) as follows: 1) to 'superintend' (to supervise) the school districts within their jurisdiction; 2) to provide financial oversight of the school districts within their jurisdiction; etc. We see an example of an 'extraordinary' audit of a charter school posted on their website. So, precedent has been established!

It is obvious that the current CBOE is not eager to get involved. But THEY ARE INVOLVED BY LAW! However, hold their feet to the fire for awhile and see if they pay attention. They, too, can be recalled!

Call the media, make appropriate complaints at the meeting during open comment, demand that they (through their superintendent) actually DO what the law says -- 'superintend districts and oversee finances' however much they might not wish to 'get involved.'

Call the State Superinendent of Public Instruction to complain, copy your state legislators, the State Attorney General until you get their attention. Everyone is busy, no one wants trouble unless they are a 'crusader'. Find a crusader to take up your cause. But remember, separate the issues according to jurisdiction.

Brown Act violations go to the DA; fiscal matters to the CBOE; illegal campaign matters to the FPPC, etc. Develop individual expertise in different arenas and have a designated committee to keep the pressure on each jurisdiction: county office, district attorney, state superintendent, legislature, etc. It does take a village, and persistence to right something gone so wrong.

June 27, 2012

Here's an update. The County Board of Education will meet Tuesday, July 11, at 2 p.m. at their location on Linda Vista Road. The agenda is posted online. There are no items having to do with a request for an extraordinary audit of Sweetwater, or nothing that seems to have anything to do with Sweetwater, so it seems no member of the public has requested such an item?

Public comments on agenda items are taken before agenda items (as it should be done!), but public comments on non-agenda items are not taken until after most everything else.

July 7, 2012

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