Phlebotomy instructor Jean Dessources will likely lose his teaching position due to the elimination of ROP programs.
  • Phlebotomy instructor Jean Dessources will likely lose his teaching position due to the elimination of ROP programs.
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On Friday, May 17, teachers from Sweetwater’s Regional Occupation/Career Technical Education program attended a hearing in district offices in hopes of averting their fate — they are scheduled to lose their jobs in June. Last March, in a move unprecedented in the county, the Sweetwater district eliminated their entire ROP/CTE program.

The program has in the past provided career-opportunity training for students who were enrolled in Sweetwater's 9–12 district and for adult students who were seeking to upgrade skills. Course offerings included veterinarian-assistant programs, construction programs, medical assistance programs, and automotive programs.

California Teachers Association attorney Fern Steiner represented the teachers in this RIF (reduction in force) hearing. In a May 17 interview, Steiner commented that “No other district had done away with all of their ROP teachers.” Steiner attributed this to “the district’s failure to understand the criticality of a career path for students.” (Steiner had been a phlebotomist in Chicago while attending law school.)

Steiner was also shocked that the lives of the teachers and students could be “upended” by only two trustee votes. Trustees John McCann and Jim Cartmill voted to eradicate the program; trustees Pearl Quiñones and Bertha Lopez voted to continue the program; trustee Arlie Ricasa abstained; however, the board’s bylaws count an abstention as a “yes” vote.

The faces of the teachers were grim as Albert Alt, Sweetwater’s recently hired chief financial officer, took the witness stand on May 17. The issue, according to the district, is that the ROP funding money from the state passes through and is disbursed by the County Office of Education. Alt testified that the only assurances the office of Education would give him — even after the governor’s May budget revision — is that the district would receive “from 0% to 99%.”

Contacted by email on May 22, Alt said he spoke on the 21st with Lora Duzyk, chief business officer of the San Diego County Office of Education, and she affirmed that there is no news yet on funding.

The teachers attending last Friday’s hearing questioned why other districts had expanded their course offerings and recruited more teachers even though they, too, are funded through the County Office of Education.

ROP teachers also commented that they do many additional jobs on their school sites — jobs that no one else wants to do. They informed the Reader that they act as community-service reps, supervise proms, coach various sports — in short, fill in the gaps to keep the schools running.

Alex Anguiano, president of the Sweetwater Teachers Association, expressed concern that last year the district had borrowed $1.5 million from the ROP funding.

Funding may still become available to restore some teachers’ positions; however, sources say Sweetwater’s ROP/CTE offices on Second Avenue will be closed and reopened as a district charter school.

If the district reinstitutes an ROP/CTE program, teachers will be called back in order of seniority.

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FatCatSegat May 23, 2013 @ 9:08 a.m.

I've got an idea. Those greedy board members under indictment for the "pay to play", scandal should pony up what they made and fund this program including their personal assets. But we all know, after the plea bargaining deals they'll be offered, slaps on the wrists is all they will receive.


aardvark May 23, 2013 @ 9:22 a.m.

An abstention is the same as a "yes" vote? Is that fairly common? Never heard that one before.


oskidoll May 23, 2013 @ 11:37 a.m.

Did Ricasa state a reason for her abstention? Technically, no one is supposed to abstain 'just because' they do not want to make a difficult decision. IF she had a legitimate conflict, then she should have stated the conflict and left the dias for the discussion.

Perhaps Ricasa felt conflicted because the Governor's plan was for her employer, Southwestern College, to assume responsibility for Adult Eduction. However, her direct employment at Southwestern has nothing to do with Adult or Continuing Education, and as both SUHSD and Southwestern College are public agencies. They do not make 'profits' and Ricasa would not personally benefit EVEN IF the Adult Ed program was moved to the College. (Recent events indicate that there will likely not be a wholesale move of Adult Ed to community colleges, as the legislature is not in agreement with that part of the Governor's plan.) Bottom line, Ricasa ought not to have abstained from that vote.


bbq May 23, 2013 @ 12:13 p.m.

The saddest thing about all of this is the approximately $3 Million it would have cost to keep these programs is less than 1% of the Budget. The BoT and Dr. Brand seem to have done this to make a point and further their "Elitist" agenda, College Track for everyone. They also needed a Facility to house Alliant at Sweetwater.

They are also still covering up the fact that they have dipped into our reserves so much in the last 5 Years that there is little reserve left, yet they still pine for a "New Adminstration Building",

If SUHSD is so good on the annual Audit for County Board of Education why do we need to cut these programs, no other district did.

More BS from the Leaders of the district. BBQ


VigilantinCV May 23, 2013 @ 5:44 p.m.

I hope there is a special place in Hell for Dr. Brand and his useless rubber-stamp Board. What a worthless bunch. Where is Joe Rindone when you need him??


anniej May 24, 2013 @ 6:34 a.m.

Ricasa 'abstains', yet it should be noted that her pet MAAC project continues. Hopefully ALL of us who have voted for Arlie Ricasa now realize the errors of our ways.

Jim Cartmill, Arlie Ricasa and Ed Brand formed a coalition many years ago, back when Brand left under the cloud of a Grand Jury investigation - back when the three of them bought L street with OUR tax dollars and then simply gave the deed away.

Jim Cartmill - Arlie Ricasa - John McCann SHAME ON YOU for your lack of representation. You see yourselves as elitist, above those that you represent. These good people were hung out to dry by all of you - THEY ARE VOTERS, AND WILL NOT FORGET!


erupting May 24, 2013 @ 9:18 a.m.

It should be fun times in the South Bay now that we know only 5 pages of the Grand Jury testimony will not be available. My first read will be Fast Eddy, Cartmill since he's become the new villain of record. It will be interesting to see if Cartmill was indicted solely because he wanted a table at an event paid for by a contractor for a charitable group like he has told everyone that will listen. Bet not! I bet we will be looking at other interesting tid bits. Has anyone filed a Brown Act Violation other than me? It's time for us to act.


anniej May 24, 2013 @ 10:10 a.m.

I am thinking out loud here, I am wondering if any board members claimed expenses on their taxes that they had, in fact, been reimbursed for by the Sweetwater District via Dianne Russo, the then CFO. Expenses such as a second land line into a home, cox cable, or a Palm Trio 650. Just wondering,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,


joepublic May 24, 2013 @ 10:34 a.m.

The article states: "... sources say Sweetwater’s ROP/CTE offices on Second Avenue will be closed and reopened as a district charter school." What charter school would that be, and why do we need one? What we need is the ROP/CTE program! What a shame.


teachersrock May 26, 2013 @ 1:51 p.m.

Brand is trying to create programs out of thin air, that's the magician in him. Always slight of hand, now you see it, now you don't.


anniej May 24, 2013 @ 10:58 a.m.

The taxpayers of the South Bay will hold Jim Cartmill, John Mccann and Arlie Ricasa responsible.

QUESTIONABLE ETHICS YOU BE THE JUDGE - a mailer I received regarding a candidate. You would be able to open ours and and there would be the The READER, UT, and Star News headlines, pictures of Jim Cartmill, John Mccann and Arlie Ricasa. Quotes from Mccann, 'dance stories' by Jim Cartmill next to the dated press release regarding Alliant, excerpts of Ricasas lecture demanding respect for Brand, copies of expense reports new and old ( some dating back to 2001 ), Grand Jury testimonial quotes.

Doing it NOW, with no elections on the line, it will surely be read by all households.

Enough is enough!


bbq May 24, 2013 @ 11:21 a.m.

Anniej et. al. For me even though the Trustees are weak and seemingly sheep-like followers, not independent thinkers, or we would see more discussion of these ideas and changes in public.

The issue is not completely about who is in power as much as what is the overall goal for the district.

I have asked this before and will continue, where is the long-term plan that all of these short-sighted, ill-concieved schemes lead up to?

Is everyone in the region so enamored with (Bullied by) Dr. Brand and his "Vision" of secondary education? Let's be frank most people in the district be they Teachers, Site Adminstration, or public get allong just fine with little or preferably no meaningful contact with him (or his cult following, "yes" persons).

When do we get to see behind the curtain? Where is the opportunity to have meaningful dialog with the district? Who should be leading that dialog? When and where do we, the public go for other opinions to understand the needs and wants of our School Site Employees and students?

I am asking about the bigger picture than the circus of Board meetings, Legal issues, and individuals. How/what is the best method to enact discussion and change? I feel that we must look farther forward and back, to right the ship and set a comprehensive path into the future. That plan cannot continue to be set without proper public dialog. Contrary to Mr. McCann's dialog, I've never heard anyone other than or Board and Dr. Brand ever say they wanted the district to take on 13 - 16 year college education (Sweetwater University, BTW not the same as Compact for success, another blog) or abandon ROP/CTE. Open up SUHSD, BBQ


anniej May 24, 2013 @ 12:37 p.m.

Hey bbq: your words ring true. Unfortunately Jim Cartmill, as board president, has the obligation to do what is right. Whether it be campaign contribution limitations, cutting Adult Ed or ROP, reigning in Brand, or monitoring our tax dollars JIM CARTMILL IS ULTIMATELY RESPONSIBLE.

He is failing miserably, he is by all accounts part of the problem vs. offering solutions. As exhibited at the last board meeting, he has no respect for any of us. He attempted to play the shell game with us when he gave us that dance speech; in my opinion, he knew he was using the old bait and switch - that clearly is indicative of his disdain for each and every tax payer in the South Bay. He sees himself as better than us, looking down on us as if we matter not.

Cartmill and Brand must be very close, let us not forget Brand helped to financially bail Jim Cartmill out when Cartmills company was in bankruptcy. THIS OCCURRED WHEN BRAND WAS SUPER PREVIOUSLY, and while CARTMILL WAS A BOARD MEMBER. How can we respect or trust ANYTHING Jim Cartmill says after learning this?


eastlaker May 24, 2013 @ 1:55 p.m.

There is compromise for you...and not the productive kind.


angrybirds May 24, 2013 @ 12:50 p.m.

Annie J I think you have a point here. I know from people that work in the district that the board secretary serves the board with anything they ask for. She runs a lot of errands for them and I am sure that some kind of expenses are there.

This place needs to be eradicated someone please call Terminex or Orkin to get rid of the rats in the building. Do they fumigate liars, cheaters, and complete dumb ----- also.


oskidoll May 24, 2013 @ 2:11 p.m.

Kudos to BBQ for identifying what we should expect of the members of the Board, and the person they hire as CEO. Sadly, we have learned that such expectations are fruitless and the Board are do-less and corrupt. However, the law does say that it is the Board's responsbility to set policy and the direction of the public agency they oversee; and to hire a CEO to implement the policy and follow their direction. IF and WHEN the Board fails its primary responsibility (and fail they have) it is up to the electorate to vote them out of office and find replacements who will be diligent and good stewards of the public's trust. The only other hope we have is that those who are indicted will be found guilty of felonies when they come to trial next February...If that happens, those who are convicted felons will have to vacate their positions. We are powerless to MAKE this board do anything they do not want to do. We can report them for Brown Act violations to the FPPC; report criminal activity to the DA; but we cannot MAKE them shape up and do right. That is apparently not in their DNA. VOTE the BUMS out, and pray for convictions.


cvres May 24, 2013 @ 8:35 p.m.

oskidoll, your position--nothing we can do about the board -- which means nothing we can do for students at this point. sad situation.


anniej May 24, 2013 @ 9:04 p.m.

We CAN do something, each of us has the responsibility to not only stand for change but to be willing to do the hard work that it takes to bring about the change. What role will each of us play?


Grand Jury testimonies to be released next week, read them carefully.


oskidoll May 25, 2013 @ 12:02 p.m.

CVRES --- My point is that WE are ultimately responsible for the Board of Trustees. They can only be replaced by recall or by being voted out in a regular election, or by dismissal if they are convicted of a felony.

We ought not to be sitting on our hands whining, waiting for God or some nameless authority in the sky to swoop in and remove them from office. We also ought not to expect to shame them into responsible behavior or to change their MO...a crook is a crook is a crook!

I did not mean to imply that there is nothing we can do. However, what we should be doing is working to unseat them by whatever means we can. I agree with anniej that we should be doing the hard work and planning NOW to unseat them in coming elections. That does take work, organization,and fund raising. Who will step up into those roles?

We should also keep their feet to the fire, as I have advocated previously, by diligently reporting their unlawful actions to the proper authorities. The more 'dings' in their records, the more ammo we will have at election time.

"Democracy means responsbility" ....everyone must take part and take responsibility, not just those we elect to run the shop.

BBQ has suggested a framework for seeking goals and educational objectives for OUR school district. Even if Ed and CO don't cooperate, as it seems they are not inclined to establish objectives against which they might be evaluated, it will serve as yet more evidence when it comes time to vote. A talented CEO would have already established the goals and plans BBQ envisions, and would embrace the participation of the public in the process.

Poor leadership is not necessarily illegal. It is our evaluation of their leadership at the ballot that detertmines who shall lead.

The courts will evaluate the alleged /criminal acts and one hopes, act accordingly. I am grateful the DA is involved and that the court seems focused on the case. In the meantime, we need to be focused and realistic about what strategies will invoke the change we seek.


bbq May 26, 2013 @ 4:28 p.m.

To All, I have tried this before, the public needs to have a dialog with:

1) Itself, that means you and I the citizens, taxpayers to decide what we want, not the simple stuff like a non-corrupt board and Upper Adminstration, but truely what the direction of the district should be,

2) Who or what organization will sponsor the dialog to start the progression towards the unified goals of the Citizens (see above), Teachers, Working staff (Bus Drivers, Foodworkers, custodians, etc), Site staff (Conselors, Principals, etc) and Adminstration staff.

3) Start the movement towards change/reform of a large School District, using "Uncommon" sense, with an eye towards the future.

Only with these things in some kind of order can/will we pull this district out of the S__thole it is currently in.

I would ask the SEA, other Union represented employees, Adminstration and public to enter the discussion with an attitude that what is being done is not sustainable and present a real challange to create the efficient, progressive district of the future. Use "Lean" principles to determine "Value Added" criteria for all aspects of the District, from Transportation and Food Service to Curriculum and Fund raising.

We not only have a need to do this, we have a responsibility to our students, employees and citizens. Starting to sound like a speech or platform, dialog is the answer, Someone pick a place and time for next Tuesday Evening and I will be there. BBQ


WTFEd May 26, 2013 @ 9:05 p.m.

Just remember it is all about the kids!!! Like when you Ed Brand attended a reception of the “American Filipino’s Educator’s Conference Reception" in Berkeley on October 12, 2001 and paid $710.64 to host an open bar (the invoice says an average of two drinks per person). Or how about sharing a $99 bass and rack of lamb with board member Arlie Ricasa on 12/04/04 during a conference in San Francisco? It is a wonder you have not ballooned up past your already fat 240 Ed. No wonder you did not want to take a physical you fat pig!!!

Yes this was paid by the District and who signed off on these expenditures? Diane Russo. Somebody told me they saw her in the office awhile back. Are you kidding me? Who signed off on those checks to SGI and all this other stuff? Diane Russo. "L" Street old Barry Dragon. What a piece of work. How about Bruce Husson? Another one of those that just feed off the trough of Ed Brand.

Believe me Ed Brand does not get away with this stuff without people backing him or being paid to look the other way!! Does the name McGlaughlin come to mind? I know stuff believe me. You would be surprised what you hear being talked about the other day. Does the name Carolyn Smith ring a bell? For those in the District staff read the tea leaves. You better distance yourself now so when Law Enforcement comes in you better be on the right side and not one of his minions. I have got my ass covered.

I feel sorry for poor Manuel Rubio trying to defend this garbage. Don't blame him. He is doing his job. There are others I wonder about. Where will they come out with the caca hits the fan? Think about your integrity my fellow District personnel. Ed will be gone soon and then what?


montana64 May 27, 2013 @ 8:55 p.m.

Leaches draw blood, too/ Who needs phlebotomists?/ When these invertebrates can latch with the old 3-2?/ Oh pardon: abstain -2-2.: Irony pales / Anemic Alliant needs influx of our bucks./ ROP R OK all over SD/ But not at suhsd / We must have Sweetwater university!/


eastlaker May 29, 2013 @ 4:13 p.m.

In my recent travels, I happened to come across an article in local paper about a school district who was starting their search for a new superintendent of schools. Their current superintendent will be retiring at the end of the spring term 2014--so they are having PUBLIC OPEN FORUMS to hear what the public would like to see in a superintendent!

What a concept! I believe that there may even be some community members on the search team, and that there will be NO SECRET MEETINGS!

Can you fathom that?

Actual public input, actual members of the community (who have not been paid off) acting in the interests of the community!!

This shows us what can be done. The world doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to function in a reasonable fashion, and all of us need to contribute to the best of our abilities.

We can remake Sweetwater into a school district that is no longer a laughingstock and a public humiliation, much less a synonym for corruption, disgrace and fraud.


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