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

Funding for the program comes from the state and is channeled through the San Diego County Department of Education. According to Albert Alt, Sweetwater’s new chief financial officer, the county has not promised the district any specific dollar amount and will be appropriating money according to its own priorities, first to the juvenile court system.

Sweetwater superintendent Ed Brand said he is meeting with Marty Block, Ben Hueso, and Juan Vargas about the problem. Boardmember John McCann said, “If I had a magic wand I would restore the whole program.”

The district usually gets $7.5 million for its Regional Occupation Program/Career Technical Education, according to trustee Pearl Quiñones. She has pointed out that other school districts have chosen not to cut the programs and are willing wait for the May budget revisions. The district has borrowed $1.5 million from the Regional Occupation Program funds for purposes other than funding the program.

Quiñones stated, “I have crunched the numbers, and this program only needs $3.5 [million] to function.”

Many community members who are enrolled in ROP classes addressed the board on April 9. Jerry Thomas, a longtime Chula Vista resident who is currently enrolled in an engineering class through ROP/CTE, told the board, “The poor cannot afford the price of higher education…. The ROP program is the educational and workforce safety net that links the classroom to the workforce.”

Classmates from an ROP phlebotomy class were particularly vocal in their protest. One told the board: “We are asking you for help now; we may be the people you are asking for help in the future.”

A visit to the phlebotomy class the day after the vote demonstrated the students are daunted but not defeated. They are studying as hard as ever while their future hangs in the balance.

The course they are taking through the Sweetwater ROP/CTE is free but demands five months of study followed by 250 hours of internship, which was scheduled for this summer.

On the day of the visit, their professor Jean Dessources was instructing students on eye-flushing procedures. In addition to phlebotomy, enrollees are prepared for many kinds of medical emergencies.

Dessources has taught the class for seven years. Although his future is uncertain, his concern was for the class. “I feel my students are in limbo right now. They can’t get their certification without their internships” because the internships are no longer funded.

Two students said they enrolled in the same course at Pima Medical Institute (a private institution) and it cost them $1400. They both felt they got more individualized attention in the ROP class.

All of the students say they feel they are under a great deal of stress now. One said, “I have paying for daycare for five months; without an internship it will be all for nothing.”

Cynthia Mendoza, however, seemed to speak for the whole class when she said, “We’re not giving up. Tonight [April 10] we’re going to the County Board of Education meeting. We’ll go to Obama if we have to.”

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eastlaker April 11, 2013 @ 3:24 p.m.

Best of luck to the ROP/CTE students. The short-sightedness of this voting majority board is nothing short of stupefying.

As Bertha Lopez stated, "Something is wrong when you choose iPADs over students!"

We all know something is definitely wrong in Sweetwater, and has been for some time. For reasons unknown, this voting block of McCann, Cartmill and Ricasa has no qualms about being Ed Brand's willing henchmen.

Sort of like when I went to the opera and saw "Murder in the Cathedral"--except far less heroic (?) than those three...but greatly destructive, nonetheless.

In a related issue, I hope McCann isn't planning on any further crowing about his upcoming deployment. There is nothing he can do at this point to piece together the shards of a political career--he self-destructs time and time again at each board meeting, and the most amazing thing is that he is completely unaware. The eyes are open but the brain is not engaged. A common trait among Sweetwater trustees.


anniej April 11, 2013 @ 4:15 p.m.

When a school board fails to do its due diligence in educating those in our district that WANT to be educated and fund elementary charter schools and IPADS what does that say about the board?

We have a moral responsibility to join together and bring about change at the board level. Additionally we need to replace Ed Brand. With the proper leadership ROP could have been saved, WE ARE TOLD WE ARE THE ONLY DISTRICT WHO HAS CUT IT.

Perhaps if Brand would NOT have taken money OUT of ROP and ADULT ED, and allowed both programs to flourish, perhaps, these needed programs would remain.

Arlie Ricasa spent over 20 MILLION of our tax dollars on L street following the advice of Ed Brand, then she voted to GIVE THE PROPERTY AWAY to a non profit. Is she talking about L street? NO. Is she telling Brand to inform the tax payers of this loss? NO. Have we been told that the non profit owns the land? NO. But there she sits lecturing the public and Bertha Lopez outraged that we fail to respect Ed Brand. RESPECT IS EARNED, Ms. Ricasa - it is not something you can align yourself with John Mccann and Jim Cartmill and simply vote on.

When our children enter beauty pageants, WE PAY FOR IT. We do not call up SUHSD contractors and request a check. PLEASE, you dare to mandate respect. Where was your respect when you were allegedly using your position for personal profit? What about the alleged fancy meals? Again I say PLEASE!!!!!!!! And then there were the alleged taxpayers resources while on the job. The hypocrisy of this woman is infuriating! The true colors of Ricasa were seen at Tuesday night board meeting - that is the silver lining of that speech- she showed us who she is focused on, and it sure as heck is NOT our students or we taxpayers, it is Ed Brand - WHY??????

And let us not forget the 300 HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS we are paying for moving and storage A YEAR.

And they want us to believe WE ARE BROKE! Funny how they seem to find money to fund the things they want, but not the education so many truly need.


eastlaker April 11, 2013 @ 5:01 p.m.

Yes--the irony that Sweetwater is the only district to cut ROP when Sweetwater's students and adult learning population is that very group that needs ROP the most! Perhaps Ed is thinking that ROP conflicts with his upcoming plans for further "for-profit" educational alignments...why else would he cut it--he only sees dollar bills, anyway. Those dollar bills must be leading him in a 'different direction'.

Yes--gutting the program, then cutting the program. Then stalling and trying to confuse the issue when the "frozen positions" were remembered and it was recognized that sustaining those frozen positions would not impact the statement of fiscal responsibility from the county Brand allegedly is so concerned about maintaining.

Can I hear some cat-calls, please? Because we know what Ed Brand is trying to do. He is not fooling us. He is on notice, but that is unlikely to stop him. The only thing that can stop him is that brick wall he is heading towards, full speed ahead.

So funny (in a very sad way) that Brand is soooooo concerned about the county's statement of good fiscal health...when we all know it is a house of cards that can fall over any second now. Such a hypocrite.

Reminds me of the old joke: I'd label someone a scum-sucking maggot, but that would be an affront to maggots everywhere!


erupting April 11, 2013 @ 6:23 p.m.

anniej, Riccasa was originally upset when Bertha said that Brand owns 3 board votes. I was watching her, she was furious. The grimace on her face told the whole story. Anyone who did not know Brand owns her would have known she was one of the 3 by looking at her. The civility lecture didn't work because of Brand's status with the public. What is interesting is that Brand is still involved with Burt Grossman. I remember giving a speech about Grossman and Brand and McCann's support of his run against Bertha. As supt. he was not permitted to do this. Of course he denied it,and used McCann to run the show. Well I guess it's just another lie exposed. If Brand was Pinocchio he could be a human pole vaulter.


eastlaker April 12, 2013 @ 9:45 a.m.

Minor point, if Brand were to be a pole vaulter, alterations in the physical universe would have to take place.


anniej April 11, 2013 @ 7:19 p.m.

Erupting - I am sure legal entities are interested in Brand discussing Burt Grossman, could have sworn Grossman played off their interactions as 'I know Ed Brand, but we are not friends' yet we have Brand allegedly speaking of Grossman to a BOC candidate.

Maybe someone should inform Brand that he has cooked his own goose.


joepublic April 11, 2013 @ 7:45 p.m.

Didn't Brand put up another candidate during his last run as superintendent ? Does anyone know the law regarding this? Oh, and to Mr. McCann I say, you have the magic wand, it's called your vote. You just decided not to use it.


Jmbrickley April 11, 2013 @ 10:53 p.m.

The real issue here is not that SUHSD has the money or not, but rather how they want to spend the money. That the funds are available or not is not the point. There is enough money to pay for both the adult and ROP programs. The issue is where the necessary cuts would be made to continue funding both of those programs.

A case in point is the iPads. Even though the District says that Mello-Roos monies will not be spent on the iPad's themselves, monies from the general fund will be spent to purchase iPads. In effect, general funds are being spent to fund iPads for middle school students, instead of adult ed or ROP. The District believes iPads are more important than our adult learners. The money being spent on an unproven, untested, and not yet validated fad have taken precedence over the needs of our adult community.

John McCann says that technology is the way of the future for our younger students, yet he also believes that this advancement should be born on the backs of our older citizens. He believes that our senior citizens, anyone older than say 20, should not be allowed to have access to any classes that would help them improve their skills and marketability, because 7th and 8th grade students must have access to the newest and latest devices. He essentially believes that the elder community should be cast aside in favor of the newer community.

The shame of it all, is that John McCann and Jim Carmill, and Arlie Ricasa are all willing to cast aside the very people they were entrusted to protect, in order to appease Edward M. Brand and his false promises of better times for SUHSD.


bbq April 12, 2013 @ 5:50 a.m.

Next week there are two Financial Review Meetings covering the intrerium budget, they are posted in the district calendar for April 16 Chula Vista High Performing arts center, 6:00 to 8:00 and April 18, Otay Ranch High School, Multi 6:00 to 8:00. We may have to push a bit to find out info on the second Financial meeting I have been talking to Dr. Alt about so a good turn-out would be helpful.... BBQ


anniej April 12, 2013 @ 7:27 a.m.

Jmbrickley - your words are the mirror of truth regarding ROP.


Susan Luzzaro April 12, 2013 @ 7:39 a.m.

Mr. Brickley, point well taken. The district spent $4,740,000 for a 3 year lease for mobile devices for incoming 7th graders. As one parent pointed out, the theft recovery program costs $447,500 but the district reports only 50 iPads lost. As he pointed out--50 X $500 --that is not a good investment.

At the meeting one person made the wise suggestion to just wait a month to fund iPad program so that the ROP could continue to be funded now.


eastlaker April 12, 2013 @ 9:39 a.m.

So is the CTE program completely gone as well? The gentleman who spoke so eloquently about what they had accomplished with testing, supplying appropriate eyewear and other conditions so these students could advance from failure to success--it would have been inspirational under other circumstances.

As it stands, it means devastation to all those kids. Kids who had started to see success and now see it being taken away, due to Ed Brand, Jim Cartmill, John McCann and Arlie Ricasa.

Frankly, would it help if we were to photograph these kids (with parental permission of course) and make a complete set for each of the 4 mentioned above...put these photographs on poster boards and nail this to the walls of their offices...so that these young faces can forever look out at those who have filled them with disillusionment and betrayal.

And update these four as to further difficulties these kids encounter--because Sweetwater was not there for them. Because Sweetwater TOOK AWAY what they were counting on.

Again, shame on Brand, Cartmill, McCann and Ricasa. May the consequences of their heartless decisions hit them in the face from this day forward. May they never be free from their wrong doing, these, their personal decisions. May these heavy chains encumber them in every way.

Because this bunch loves to lecture to others about behavior, but are themselves enormously culpable in ways that grow daily.

Because blithely saying "I don't have a magic wand..." is no excuse. It only proves to all of us watching that you also do not care one whit about the students, John McCann.

Yes, Brand, Cartmill, McCann and Ricasa. Go ahead and hurt the children. That is such an achievement. Be sure and add that to your resumes...new bullet point:

                   o Betrayed at-risk young people, as I really don't give a rip

Nice job.


Jmbrickley April 12, 2013 @ 9:41 p.m.

Eastlaker... When John McCann says he wishes he had a magic wand, he is telling a falsehood. He does have such a wand. It's called his vote. He could have waved his magic wand and preserved a valued and valuable program that served the needs of our community. Likewise, he could have waved that magic wand to say no to a self serving superintendent who's only benefit to SUHSD is that of one who has little to offer in way of fixing the ills that not only mark his current tenure, but also dogged him during his last stay in this position. As you can see, I can offer no benefit to having Edward Brand as superintendent of SUHSD. Yet, John McCann continues to support Brand by continually waving his magic wand in an attempt to turn a sow's ear into a silk purse.


bbq April 12, 2013 @ 11:39 a.m.

As of a few minutes ago the Indictees have all been arrained with trial set for Feb 2014, what does this mean to our district? There is enough evidence for a trial but they still have responsibility for our tax dollars? Another year where their decisions on Millions of Tax Dollars is tainted by their actions, no respect will continue for the board or Adminstration. I propose that the members of our board resign and allow voters/the public fill their seats until an outcome of the trial, ... If/when they are found innocent they could run again for their positions. But to continue with this "Lame Duck" Board is an insult to us all. BBQ


eastlaker April 12, 2013 @ 12:37 p.m.

What are the legal requirements? Would that mean a recall for those indicted--unless they would resign of their own free will?

Why all the extensive delays? Is it because they think it will take that time to prepare, or what?


oskidoll April 12, 2013 @ 12:44 p.m.

BBQ, I share your disappointment but am not surprised about the length of time until the trials. You know what they say about the 'wheels of justice'. I do not expect any of them to take a high road and resign...they would not know where to look for a high road! I would not be surprised if the defendants use every legal trick in the book to delay even further. We shall see.

I also suspect that Ricasa et al are so deferential to Brand because they may believe that he will somehow help pay their legal bills with the district's money, plus whatever else he might have on them that might come out at trial. It is a tangled web indeed.

In the meantime (between now and February) we must continue to hold their feet to the proverbial fire and not let up on the pressure points. Toward that end, I suggest that we ask for/demand written copies of whatever information is presented at the upcoming 'fiscal' town hall meetings --- at a bare minimum, hard copies of any power point presentations and other supporting data. Otherwise, it will be 'lost' in cyberspace and subject to subsequent 'tweaking' as Ed might find useful down the road. If hard copies are not forcoming, I suggest the seesions be video recorded and transcribed.

We should not have to do this work, but it is sad but true that we do.


oskidoll April 12, 2013 @ 2:06 p.m.

Eureka! It now occurs to me that the ongoing and upcoming legal bills for the defendent's defense attorneys may be the primary reason the board majority gave Ed Brand so much spending latitude. That way, they do not have to take official action as he quietly pays their attorneys with our money. They do not have to 'approve' a contract. It may also be why they continue to be so deferential to Ed.

The only two defendants to get public defenders are not SUHSD defendants...they are Southwestern defendants. Perhaps the SUHSD defendants believe they don't have to worry about their bills and can 'pass' on the public defenders and keep their pricey defense lawyers!


anniej April 12, 2013 @ 3:10 p.m.

Closed session continuously refers to upcoming, ongoing court matters. There has to be a way to find out if our tax dollars are being used for theses board member defenses - closed session or not.

Theses alleged felons voted IN FRONT OF THE COMMUNITY to NOT use this communities hard earned tax dollars to fund their defenses. While Ricasa has a defense fund the amounts contributed are NOTHING compared to what I am told such a defense would cost. Where is Quinones getting her monies?

Putting all of the rhetoric aside, today was an embarrassment for us all, those culprits are playing right to the hands of so many other areas in defining the South Bay as a bunch of unscrupulous crooks. Yet there Ricasa sits at the board meeting lecturing us on respect, Ricasa respect us and RESIGN!!!!!!!!!!

Look on the bright side of things we will be able to take our power back in 2014 - VOTING ARLIE RICASA, John Mccann and Jim Cartmill out -


eastlaker April 12, 2013 @ 5:31 p.m.

anniej, remember the "Pearl, my queen"?

Price of agreement on some issues, perhaps?


anniej April 12, 2013 @ 6:03 p.m.

eastlaker- not an image anyone could forget.


oskidoll April 12, 2013 @ 3:54 p.m.

My point is that the board majority may have set it up so that the board need NOT take action in closed session; insted, maybe they just merely submit their bills to their 'patron' Ed who will see that they get paid, thanks to the generous spending allocation he has been given that does not require board approval.

The only way to get the info about who is paid with public funds, and how much and for what, is through public records requests.


anniej April 12, 2013 @ 4:26 p.m.

oskidoll - keep running into attorney client privilege, we have tried


oskidoll April 12, 2013 @ 4:50 p.m.

Good for us for trying with the public records requests. I am thinking the DA can subponea them if necessary, because it seems that the public ought not to be paying for the defense of those indicted for their personal criminal acts. If the district is in fact paying for the board members' private attorneys in an attempt to circumvent the law, I would think the DA would also want to pursue that as a cause of action and maybe snare Ed himself.


eastlaker April 12, 2013 @ 8:07 p.m.

Oh yes, there it is!

And wouldn't it be conspiracy to have done this...of course, it has looked like much of what has gone on within Sweetwater and the board has had more than a few elements of conspiracy.

Group dishonesty, tandem lying, magical agreement, call it what you will, it looks like conspiracy to me.


teachersrock April 13, 2013 @ 1:01 p.m.

Has anyone seen the Save Adult Ed ad in this weeks Reader? Pg. 18 Please help support Adult Education by sending an email to: [email protected] put "petitions" in the subject line and you will receive an auto reply with all of the links.


Susan Luzzaro April 13, 2013 @ 6:23 p.m.


Is this saveadultschool the petition that was being passed out at the last Sweetwater board meeting? Very creative move if it is. Susan


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