Ed Brand's true title of interim superintendent of the Sweetwater Union High School District is not accurately reflected on the district's website.
  • Ed Brand's true title of interim superintendent of the Sweetwater Union High School District is not accurately reflected on the district's website.
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After 6:00 p.m. on September 7, the Sweetwater Union High School District posted on the district website that there will be a special closed-session meeting on September 10 at 6:30 for the purpose of “public employee/discipline/dismissal/release/reclassification/reassignment/resignation or transfer.”

Rumor has circulated for weeks that interim superintendent Ed Brand will be seeking a contract to make his position permanent and augment his salary. (Brand’s title on the district website does not include the “interim” designation of his current position.) Meanwhile, Sweetwater teachers have agreed to 3 to 13 furlough days for the academic school year.

Brand currently receives $20,000 a month and five weeks of vacation, serving as an independent contractor.

Brand served as Sweetwater superintendent from 1995–2005. Prior to that, he served as superintendent of the San Marcos Unified School District from 2005-2006. According to the North County Times, he unexpectedly resigned and San Marcos bought out his contract for $348,000, or 18 months of salary.

Problems have followed Brand.

On August 7, the Proposition O Bond Oversight Committee gave Brand a vote of no confidence, specifically related to his record of communication and reporting to the committee.

A no-confidence petition is also being circulated on the internet by a concerned Sweetwater parent. The petition alleges “questionable decisions” regarding bus routes, open boundaries, iPad expenditures, and more. The petition boasts 277 signatures as of September 7.

According to the Sweetwater Education Association’s latest newsletter, “Usually, the Board is required to give at least 24 hours notice before conducting a special session, however, because of the corruption scandal in Bell, California, the law was amended to read that any changes regarding the employment and salary of a district executive can only be modified during a regular board meeting.”

Education association president Alex Anguiano contacted board president Pearl Quiñones and told her about the language of AB 1344.

The SEA newsletter continues: “Indeed, there was nothing shocking about the Board scheduling this highly controversial and illegal meeting at 6:30 on Monday night, the exact time when most around the county will be gearing up for one of the biggest NFL games of the season, the Raiders vs. the Chargers…. Their strategy seems like something out of a desperate coach’s fourth-quarter playbook: using a trick play in an attempt to outwit a formidable opponent.”

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eastlaker Sept. 8, 2012 @ 2:24 p.m.

Once again Ed Brand is working to undermine the processes that have been set up to allow for the business of SUHSD to be conducted in an orderly fashion. This man is out for himself and perhaps a few chosen friends (with the understanding that as situations change, some friends will be cut off and others brought in, as the needs of Brand flow with some expediency).

Do we know what that $54 million dollar amount that was listed as an interest payment/fee really is? Do we know anything at all about what is going on with the financial situation of Sweetwater UHSD? Not really. We know that bonds get approved, checks go out, and somehow it is not enough. Teachers lose jobs because supposedly there isn't enough money to pay them, yet Brand's pet projects go ahead without serious questioning.

What kind of insanity is this? As we allegedly live in a democratic society, why is it so difficult for us to get rid of someone who acts as though Sweetwater is his private fiefdom?

Thank all that is good for the Oversight Committee, and some of the concerned parents and taxpayers who have been trying to get to the bottom of the morass that is Sweetwater's board of trustees, administration and most of all ACTING superintendent. Let us hope that he is not voted into the position of superintendent.


anniej Sept. 8, 2012 @ 11:29 p.m.

hopefully the turn out - to express our major concerns over lack of representation by our board and desire to see brand go - will be massive.

mccann and cartmill are claiming that the few antagonists are the only ones with concerns. TIME TO SEND THE MESSAGE HOME--------------- we want brand gone, and NOW.

many authorities are now watching the practices of our board. if mccann, cartmill or ricasa had any illusions of grandeur that bigger and better political positions were on their horizons - well,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, they can kiss those illusions bye bye, and settle in for the nightmares that are headed their way.


justateacher Sept. 8, 2012 @ 4:06 p.m.

As a colleague and I walked out of school on Friday after a two-day week we were discussing how exhausted we were and pondering if it was because we were in our 30's and 40's now instead of our 20's. However, I truly believe that it is not our age but our district that is the problem. It is hard to focus on our students, our curriculum and our almighty test scores when the corruption, game-playing, and blatant disregard for students is so pervasive at the top. It is exhausting to try to keep up with which administrator is currently breaking which part of our contract and getting away with it. It is exhausting to still be having class changes 7 weeks into the school year because of disastrous master schedules caused by Brand and his demand that they be created at a ratio of 34:1 and in some cases 40:1 even though that wasn't even being discussed in negotiations. It is exhausting to be hearing one thing from a DWAST "support" person about common core and another from the head of curriculum. It is exhausting to anticipate what ipads will bring in the higher grades as we hear from our colleagues what a massive disaster they are in 7th grade. It is exhausting for 7th grade teachers to try to teach while kids text away on their ipads. It is exhausting and even more importantly demoralizing to simply not be respected. The relationship of teachers to administration in this district is a dysfunctional and abusive one. And like in a family where abuse takes place, the kids ultimately suffer. Many wish so desperately they could escape but they are trapped by a lack of jobs and their safety with seniority. 10 years ago people used to fight to be teach in this district. Now when I mention that I teach in Sweetwater the response is almost always "I'm sorry" or "that must be miserable". This will only continue if we keep Brand and his hit men on the payroll. Can someone, anyone, please take control and save our students. Teachers are trying so hard but we fight for them all day long to no avail. Someone out there must care and have the power to do something . . . right?


bvagency Sept. 8, 2012 @ 4:25 p.m.

Justateacher, thank you so much for your post! All we hear from Ed Brand is that all is ok and the issues our community have been raising are not happening. He told me in a phone conversation that he was at Eastlake High and all was fine and he could not understand what we are talking about. Two of the Trustees whose kids go to eastlake are saying the same thing. Please keep us in the loop. The community values you and your peers and we appreciate your work through these trying times!


erupting Sept. 8, 2012 @ 4:35 p.m.

Eastlaker, unfortunately Brand will be hired. Why because Pearl Quinones the president of the board gave into Brand's wants and called this illegal special meeting. Only the board president can do this. So we know Pearl owns this. Even if she voted against Brand it would still be a3:2 win. So Pearl thinks she wins. No she has sealed her fate at the poles in Nov. Even if Brand provides her with contractor monies for her campaign the DA will get her in Jan.so much for her ignorance. Too bad she had the opportunity to help the community and didn't again. I think Cameron will beat her at the poles anyway. This corrupt board ( except Lopez) needs to go. But it will take time because Brand will give them what they want. I just hope when his new contract is bought out like Gandara's we will still be solvent.


justateacher Sept. 8, 2012 @ 5:10 p.m.

bvagency things are far far from OK. Even when he visited us at SEA rep council he acknowledged that morale is at an all time low. Right after he told us that ELH's enrollment is actually DOWN by almost 200 this year. Sadly it is the students on the west side who truly are suffering as that is where most administrators who were brought in or promoted by Gandara continue to be employed. There are sites with more than a half dozen classes being taught by a different teacher than the teacher on the students' schedule. Sites where teachers were moved from their school because they were trying to stand up for what was right for students in communities where parents aren't as involved or as educated so they trust us as teachers to do what is best for kids. We try and feel the wrath. It is truly still a culture of fear and cronyism/nepotism widespread through our district, particularly on the west side.


justateacher Sept. 8, 2012 @ 6:03 p.m.

Oh and I can also guarantee that those trustees kids are very carefully placed in classes just as when anyone is given a tour or offered open access to the campus they are taken only to specific classes.


johndewey Sept. 8, 2012 @ 6:04 p.m.

The following was submitted by Alex_Anguiano in response to a related article:

[If a special school board meeting is called for to offer a contract to a superintendent, it would be an illegal meeting. AB 1344 took effect January 1, 2012 as a response to the scandals in the City of Bell.]

If he is right, and I have no reason to believe he's not, shouldn't one the district's stable of legal advisors warn the board that they will be blatantly violating the law?


bonitaresident Sept. 8, 2012 @ 6:31 p.m.

With the no confidence petition being circulated and a no confidence letter from the bond oversight committee what is this board thinking? Why would the board offer a contract to someone who the voters have no confidence in? There is simply no understanding what is going on, the only answer that comes across my mind is cover up of illegal activity. Mrs. Ricasa, Mr. Cartmill and Mr. Mc Cann are acting in a questionable manner. Perhaps it is time to contact the authorities. Dr. Brand left during a grand jury investigation maybe it is time to file the paper work asking that they begin a thorough investigation to reveal the truth.


SurfPuppy619 Sept. 8, 2012 @ 6:36 p.m.

just a teacher stop the whine, SUHSD is thhe best school district in the county, because of the kids there-I taught there in virtually every school, and you should be thankful you're there regardless of Brand, who (I agree is an idiot). The studenbts make the job, not the super.


takeastand Sept. 8, 2012 @ 6:53 p.m.

"There they go again!". The board and interim superintendent continue with their arrogant ways. Any student success is in spite of their shenanigans. How long can the dedicated teachers and site personnel keep the house of cards together? I believe that there will be justice -- it takes time, but justice will prevail.


bonitaresident Sept. 8, 2012 @ 6:59 p.m.

It must be difficult for the teachers to teach under such stress as open boundaries and all of the other issues.


cvres Sept. 8, 2012 @ 7:02 p.m.

Several concerns here--

Furlough days mean fewer days for students education, as well as teacher pay. How many days of education are we -- general population--willing to cut?

Next concern-- if Brand gets a contract will he get a comfy package when he leaves like he did in North County?

And, Surf Puppy, Are we reading the same things? Just a teacher doesn't write about students--rather the difficulty of having to deal with the district management at the same time as teaching. I'm not sure what years you taught there? I was wondering what your class size was?


SurfPuppy619 Sept. 8, 2012 @ 8:50 p.m.

There has always been difficulty with admnin-and always will be-I had a problem with Brand and his boyfriends myself, but the fact is just a teacher has a job, a very good job in what I consider the best school district in the county, in a depression. When I taught PE I had 60-100 students per class, in regular classes at National City Middle School I had 28-32, 33, 34 or so.....it was not easy with so many students, but still it was the best job I ever had at the best school I ever worked.


montana64 Sept. 8, 2012 @ 7:32 p.m.

Two grandiose charters 6,600 iPads, Are we richer/smarter-- With these sweetwater edu-techno fads? iWonder-- iWorry-- Jobs asunder, Staff scurries. Funds fly. Brains drain. Class sizes high--- Shame game! Brand spins. School board spawns: Resolutions. iPAWNS


Jmbrickley Sept. 8, 2012 @ 9:31 p.m.

Pearl's a tool of Brand. She was heading into an election in which she would be facing Burt Grossman as well as Cameron. Since I have seen Brands appt calendar and have seen for myself just how many, numerous meetings Brand has had with Grossman, (an unethical behavior by Brand in my opinion) she was faced with an unsavory decision: either lose favor with Brand, whom she believes has some vaulted level of influence in the upcoming election, or giving in to Brand's demand for a permanent position. She caved! So, Brand gets his "special board meeting" and Brand had Burt Grossman switch the seat he was running for so now he is running agaiinst Bertha Lopez, a known thorn in Brand's side.

Pearl thinks this is the prudent thing to do. She still believes she is somehow going to get out of the indictments. She won't. Pearl IS GOING TO BE CONVICTED of the charges against her. She will not only will lose her seat on the board even if she is re-elected, but is also going to do some time in either jail or prison. But, she is so dependent on Brand because he has convinced her he can help her. She is clueless that Brand has no influence in the DA's office, and his promises will evaporate as fast as the morning dew on a hot summer day.

Too bad Pearl is so clueless as to not see that she is but a pawn in Brand's "bigger picture." She gives him what he wants when he has no plan to provide her with anything.

Brand is not wanted by the community, the bond oversight comm., or ANYBODY, but John McCann. It was McCann who hit her up for the special meeting. John McCann is the publics worst enemy. His wife says John is ready to throw Brand under the bus, then John presures Pearl for the meeting to make Brand permanent.

Pearl, if you are reading this, Brand is going to throw you under the bus. You are expendible, as will be Arlie in a few short months. To him you are just a future felon who he needs to exploit NOW. Come the spring you will be convicted and Brand will talk about how we need to move past the chapter in SUHSD's history. He will be here, unwanted, unloved, and unappreciated by the community. You on the other hand will be vilified for having foisted this demon of huburistic hot air on us for the next two years.

Thanks Pearl... NOT! You're a joke and so is your behavior in this. The sooner you are gone, the better it will be for SUHSD.


montana64 Sept. 8, 2012 @ 10:16 p.m.

Pearl-pawn. Arlie-soon-to-be-gone. Mcann--little man, cartmill-over the hill. Take a chill pill. Remove Brand. We must understand. His underhand is his upper cut.


savesweetwater Sept. 8, 2012 @ 10:34 p.m.

The Sweetwater school district, like all districts, is a PUBLIC agency. Their purpose is to provide the best education possible for the students of the district. According to the UT, Sweetwater is one of the few districts where STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT SCORES DROPPED over the last year. The district should be investing their energy now in some serious problem solving and needs assessment about academic improvement to ensure that the students are getting the best possible education.

Unfortunately, the district leadership seems much more interested in protecting their own political aspirations and lucrative deals. The Board should be ashamed that there have not been community forums about the qualities the community wants in a superintendent. They should be embarrassed by how their actions have demoralized the district employees and tarnished the district's reputation.

Solving the complex issues in education today requires everyone in the community working together. Major decisions that will effect over 40,000 students should be made in an open, honest and transparent manner , where everyone 's input is valued. Hiding the decision about the appointment of a permanent superintendent behind a vague posting (Brown Act violation) in a Special Meeting, hastily called (violation of AB 1344) is a cowardly move and shows the Board's disdain for the public they are supposed to represent.

Shame on them. And shame on us if we don't rise up as a community and say enough is enough. We demand leadership that leads in an ethical manner, and respects the people they were ELECTED to represent.


anniej Sept. 8, 2012 @ 10:49 p.m.

yesterday i was told a story that sort of defines what really goes on in this district. now the story dates back a few years, but none the less it involves the leader of the district. allegedly he drove his motor home, camper (whatever) in to have body work done on it. it was suppose to be a 'class project'. funny, i was not aware that class projects included work for the leaders of this district. but again, this was a few years back..................

what mr. brickley states sort of hits the nail on the head. quinones is so lost, if it weren't an alleged crime it might be viewed as a shame. she typed those words, remember "i take care of those who take care of me" (paraphrase, see ut pdf's) well, here is a 411 for you ms. quinones - NO ONE, not brand, not mccann, not cartmill, and not ricasa are looking out for you. that piece of advice you can take to the bank. no, instead they are sitting back watching and laughing at each and every board meeting as they sit there and watch brand make a mockery of your lack of ability. now i am sure brand is offering you assurances that "they are just trying to divide us pearl, don't listen to them, they are not our friends" - well ask yourself this pearl "did we call for a no confidence vote in you?" that would be a NO. no matter how brand and the rest try and spin it THEY CONSPIRED TO BRING YOU DOWN, yet you are skipping thru the comic poppy patch as if all is well. true we are not your friends, but with the bunch you sit with up there at the table WHO NEEDS ENEMIES???????????

all: while i realize that quinones has ingested several gallons of brands kool aid, i still needed to write the words above - perhaps i will print these comments and send them to her when she is sent to one of california's finest state prison by a jury of her peers - THEN she will have more than enough time to look within and ask self the question - HOW IN THE HELL COULD I BE SO DUMB???????????? perhaps ricasa will be her celley and can then explain why they turned against her.


anniej Sept. 8, 2012 @ 11:19 p.m.



please be sure to vote - forward it onto your friends and neighbors.


SydneyJean Sept. 9, 2012 @ 9:39 a.m.

WOW, Savesweetwater is so correct...the hiring of Ed brand is wrong on so many levels. How does the Board look the public in the face and say "the hiring and money we are spending on Ed Brand is the right thing to do for education." The game playing needs to stop, and the highway robbery of the taxpayer needs to stop. The Board needs to bring the trust back into trustee. Come on show the taxpayer, students and staff that this is about doing the right thing,, not hiring back someone you have already gotten rid of.


oskidoll Sept. 9, 2012 @ 10:53 a.m.

And so the shell game continues! The wording of the agenda item is so vague it is either designed to take care on only routine business (which should be taken care of in a regular meeting -- why a special meeting?), or transfer legions of balking teachers who are complaining about chaos resulting from erratic administrative directives in the first month of the new year, OR to reclassify Brand from interim to permanent superintendent.

Perhaps the intent is to do more than one of the above in one sitting, or as much as they think they can get away with, even if taking action on the employment of a superintendent during a special meeting is illegal!

HMMMMMMMMMM Most such agenda items will indicate the position title(s) of those to be discussed during the meeting, and usually cite the legal code which authorizes the discussion in closed session. This does neither!

When, oh when, will the Grand Jury be summoned? We know the County Board of Ed is looking the other way and whistling in the dark.

Remember the purpose of the Brown Act:

"The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created."

This, folks, is all about control.


bvagency Sept. 9, 2012 @ 11:27 a.m.

Thanks to all for your comments, all are on point. Surfpuppy, i respectfully disagree with your assessment of how great teaching in the district is now. In talking to the teachers, times have definately become much worse. We all know how bad leadership can poison an organization. In Sweetwaters case, too many years of poor leadership has impacted the teachers in spirit, working conditions, etc. still a decent gig, but very difficult. As far as the best district in the county? How is that with 14 of 25 schools in Program Improvement? The overall districts success is based on a few schools carrying the district test scores, but with open boundaries those schools are so impacted that i guarantee their scores will go down. On the special meeting, Pearl obtained a legal opinion to make sure the meeting is legal, and received instruction by council on what can and cannot be discussed. Also, word has it that Jim Cartmill has awoken from his slumber. He is calling various parents that have emailed the board, and is visiting local establishments to get a pulse from the community. Hopefully he and the other trustees are listening and realize that Ed Brand is not what this district needs.


anniej Sept. 9, 2012 @ 3:20 p.m.

bvagency: cartmill is no dummy - hopefully he is seeing and hearing what people are truly saying; and what they are saying is that it is time for brand to go. they are wondering why cartmill and mccann would be complicit in the doings of brand. we are where we were last june - we have come to the end of our ropes and nothing short of new leadership is going to silence the drums of discontent.

the secrecy of the agenda is a mock of us all - what cartmill, mccann, and ricasa are basically saying is they do not care what we think - little do they care how they are perceived. it must be hard living in a community where you are being talked about by your neighbors because they feel as though you sold them out.

when a group of professionals who are truly our neighbors, men of the highest integrity, men who can not and will not be bought state publicly that they have NO CONFIDENCE in the interim superintendent, well folks i guess that about sums it up. they tried to work with brand, they are trying to protect our prop o dollars - but brand is not having any part of what is good for the taxpayers, no - in his world it is his way or the highway.


Alex_Anguiano Sept. 9, 2012 @ 6:33 p.m.

With all my heart, I wish I could be at this special school board meeting. I am in D.C. I would like to have the opportunity to tell the school board the qualities that I would look for in a superintendent.

I would start with the Delta. If I had my way, I would modify Ed's Delta: Honesty, Transparency, and Respect would serve as the legs. Our students would be at the center of the Delta. (Not just student achievement on standardized tests, but also in character, citizenship, and creativity.)

I do not want a superintendent that participates in school board elections or demands that his administrative team work to support certain school board candidates in their races. We had enough of that garbage with Jesus.

It really is not necessary to pay Ed what he is asking for.


savesweetwater Sept. 9, 2012 @ 7:26 p.m.

Any leader of a public institution who meddles in, and tries to influence, the elections for the board he or she answers to, is demonstrating an extreme abuse of power and a corruption of the democratic system. Someone like this has no place in an educational system that is supposed to be teaching the students about character, ethics and making the right decisions. Shame on the leadership of the Sweetwater District. They are not worthy to serve there.


oskidoll Sept. 9, 2012 @ 8:01 p.m.

savesweetwater: correction - they are not worthy to serve US. They serve at our pleasure and report to us.


anniej Sept. 9, 2012 @ 8:22 p.m.

Mr. Anguiano: is it possible that another person could read your words. of course they would not be able to say they were your words as brand will prohibit that. i believe johnny boy mccann changed quite a bit of rules regarding public comment back when he was board president.


anniej Sept. 9, 2012 @ 8:17 p.m.

how many of you parents are aware of the fact that 5% of all asb monies go back to the district?????????????????????

so what we now have, and have had, is our kids being scammed to.



eastlaker Sept. 10, 2012 @ 9:23 a.m.

I remember when that was first discussed several years ago, but it was brought up that it would be illegal to require ASB funds to be returned to the district--and at that, it was dropped. At that time, I think they were talking about 3% for high schools and 2% for middle schools. When it was still 'under discussion' I recall there were informal conversations by various people at the school level who were then planning ways around this: such as snack bars not being sponsored by ASB, but by other entities, so that all funds would stay with the schools.

This is just one more in a long list of money-grabbing efforts by Brand and his followers.

When will we ever really see where the money goes? How many comfey deals are hidden within deceptive accounting practices? When will we get the forensic accounting analysis that we need, deserve, and have been asking for--for months now?


eastlaker Sept. 10, 2012 @ 10:09 a.m.

AND--who is the underwriter for all the bonds at Sweetwater? I'd sure like to know who is really controlling the pursestrings.


Susan Luzzaro Sept. 9, 2012 @ 8:40 p.m.

bvagency, that's interesting that board member Cartmill has been responding to community members, but that is supposed to be the point of an elected official. We elect them to listen.


angrybirds Sept. 10, 2012 @ 10:29 a.m.

I thought President Pearl was going to call a public meeting for transportation she insisted that was going to be done in front of many people and then said she couldn't because she is not allowed to call a special meeting isnt she the president. But for this she calls a special meeting WTH, so they don't care that the students have to walk further with 15 lbs on their backs at night but it is important to get this man a contract with an increase in salary. What the heck is wrong with these people DO THEY NOT LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE AND THE STUDENTS. DO THEY NOT CARE ABOUT THE DANGERS SOME STUDENTS FACE IN WALKING HOME ALONE BECAUSE THEIR PARENTS BOTH HAVE JOBS TO PAY THEIR TAXES AND COAT THE FAT POCKETS OF THIS DISTRICT. This district is better than a dog and pony show they just go deeper and deeper into stupidity.


Visduh Sept. 10, 2012 @ 4:51 p.m.

The DA should be the first line of defense against this sort of serial misconduct. So far she's charged a few key players with taking bribes, and now no progress is forthcoming on those cases, which should end up settled without trial. What's the delay? Bahnee won't comment. When corruption takes hold, some prosecutorial agency or investigative agency should have an interest, and begin to take steps. But the DA appears to be doing little or nothing beyond the charges so far pressed, and the FBI is standing this one out, too. (There surely are some federal issues here.) Until they get off the dime, the only recourse is at the ballot box. Vote all the bums out and start over.


SurfPuppy619 Sept. 10, 2012 @ 4:58 p.m.

This kind of nonsense would NEVER be allowed anywhere in the real world, the only place it can exist is in gov........


eastlaker Sept. 10, 2012 @ 10:52 p.m.

So is the DA running scared of offending any Republicans, either those holding office currently, or those who support those who are holding office? Is that why there is no progress--as well as why if I remember correctly, no Republicans have been charged? Is it partly about Party Loyalty?

Have the powers that be decided that because we are so close to the border, we can be handed over to corruption, as that must be inevitable? I certainly hope not. What is the reason that repeated violations of the Brown act and other regulations are not enough to even garner a reprimand from anyone? Why is the County Board of Education so totatally ineffectual?

Is anybody out there? Anyone?


montana64 Sept. 10, 2012 @ 11:29 p.m.

New Jersey mayors---would be decent players--in this charade--of our own South Bayz.


montana64 Sept. 10, 2012 @ 11:39 p.m.

It would seem that this evening---was a surreal undreaming---an illegal meeting---with no conclusion --a sort of forced feeding--- fission not fusion.


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