Susan Mitchell was the lead petitioner for the Stephen Hawking Charter K-16.
  • Susan Mitchell was the lead petitioner for the Stephen Hawking Charter K-16.
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Diane Ince, a Castle Park Middle teacher, spent her summer trying to raise the awareness of interim Sweetwater trustees regarding the expansion Stephen Hawking charter school.

Ince attended the May 28 board meeting, a meeting so packed with problems and people that everyone was given one minute to speak.

In her minute during public comment, Ince appealed to the trustees to put on hold the charter expansion onto the Castle Park Middle campus. Ince said the expansion will take classroom space in the 700 building that is needed for the local school population, and she decried the idea that the campus will be divided by a fence.

Ince, who spoke before the board again on June 30, made these arguments:

“Castle Park Middle students and programs should be occupying the specialty classrooms in this [700] building. For example, we are reinstating our arts-and-crafts program next year, so the art classroom should be used for its original purpose….

“In addition, a classroom renovated for the Special Education Severe and Moderately Severe program is located in this building…. The room was remodeled especially for these students, so using it for any other purpose with the charter school would be inefficient and unfair to our student population.”

The agenda for the July 17 board meeting contains a bid for asbestos abatement from the 700 building of Castle Park Middle School. The abatement is in advance of remodeling.

The Reader queried several Sweetwater employees to find out if the abatement was being done on behalf of Castle Park Middle students or Hawking charter students.

Rather than answering, Tim Duke, Sweetwater’s purchasing manager, responded:

“I have forwarded your request to Deanne Vicedo at the Office of the Clerk of the Board of Trustees.  She told me she will contact you.”

Vicedo handles public record requests.

On July 17, Duke wrote and said he forwarded the request because he does not know the answer. Sweetwater employee Karl Bradley is listed on the agenda as project manager but has not responded to several queries.

There is yet another question about the Hawking charter expansion.

At the June 30 board meeting, several speakers questioned agendized consultant fees for Susan Mitchell, who was paid to bring Sweetwater’s charter schools into existence and continues to work for district charter advancement.

Sweetwater teacher Colleen Cooke-Salas told the board: “A public school has no business paying the salary of the director of charter schools [Susan Mitchell].”

Community advocate Kathleen Cheers told the board: “Why are we paying taxes to the public school system and then having our public school money used to support a charter school?

“Why are we paying Susie Mitchell’s salary? I want my public education system to work and I do not want to subsidize a charter school.”

Susan Mitchell was the lead petitioner for the Stephen Hawking Charter K-16 which, according to the charter website, currently enrolls pre-k through fourth grade.

Interim boardmember Susan Hartley questioned the funding for the charter school and the board voted 5-0 not to fund Mitchell’s consultant contract pending further inquiry.

Last January, the Reader covered the strife at Castle Park Middle School. Mitchell and former principal Robert Bleisch held meetings for Castle Park Middle and touted the advantages of charter schools. Teachers at Castle Park Middle were not allowed to speak at the meetings.

In February, Bleisch was reassigned pending a personnel investigation. There is a personnel recommendation for Bleisch on the July 17 agenda. The recommendation is for a leave of absence starting July 21, 2014 through June 5, 2015.

Competition for students — and the federal money that comes with them — is often a motivation for school districts to push for charter schools.

A November email to the Castle Park teachers from Bleisch offers some validation for Sweetwater’s push to go forward with charter schools: "I also shared with you that from the district's perspective, this district charter is about the future survival of the district (CVESD has 10 charters in recent years with plans for more and [the San Diego Unified School District] has over 40 charters)."

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anniej July 17, 2014 @ 11:24 a.m.

More covert operations, why? We are the ones paying the bills surely we should be advised about what is going on?

Why is Karl Bradley the Property Manager, we pay his salary out of our public school funds?

When is the cycle of secrecy going to stop? Fresh start, yes we too want a fresh start, but we will not be played for fools.

Folks Trujillo left here 23 years ago - that is a long time to be putting up with alleged corruption.

Lets all claim Missouri status - you know the SHOW ME STATE. We are up to our necks in platitudes, promises, frilly little words like transparency. Yes, SHOW US, stop telling us to trust you - SHOW US.


More of the same - ah, that would be a NO, maybe a HELL NO!!!!!


Ensenadamaria July 17, 2014 @ 11:47 a.m.

The charter schools referred to in other districts stand alone the districts mentioned do not support them. The County board members need to stop our subsidizing of these charters and an investigation done regarding the illegalities of the start up.


Chris_Shilling July 17, 2014 @ 11:48 a.m.

I believe Hawking wanted to expand to 7th and 8th grade this school year but they did not have enough students register in order to be able to.


joepublic July 17, 2014 @ 11:56 a.m.

I'm pleased to read that interim trustee Susan Hartley questioned throwing money at this charter expansion. Finally, a school board that isn't just going along to get along. I noticed that the vote was 5-0. How has John McCann voted on this in the past?


oskidoll July 17, 2014 @ 1:16 p.m.

Now that Fast Eddy is supposed to be gone, John McCann really can't think for himself...he may vote with the majority to curry their favor or to say he actually voted against something the District proposed. Who knows, because trying to figure out what's on his mind is pretty scary stuff.


eastlaker July 17, 2014 @ 2:05 p.m.

Yes, it was funny (in a very sad and pathetic way) to see McCann stick like glue to Mr. Glover's side last night, as Mr. Glover left to take his son to the airport. My conclusion while watching that is that McCann will do what he needs to do to stay on the side where the power is. McCann was actually scampering to keep up as Mr. Glover walked out.

What's in McCann's mind? "Me, me, me, me!!"


eastlaker July 17, 2014 @ 12:22 p.m.

Now that Ed Brand is gone (although we are still paying him, and apparently will be paying for his mistakes for far too long...), does his agreement with the U-T still hold??

That is, to downplay all the problems, and to arrange the information that is given to the public to show as little as possible of all the graft, corruption and abuse of public monies?

I ask the question here, in this venue just to see what people think--any guesses, any opinions?

Is Sweetwater still being protected by news media? Are people still trying to keep a lid on the stinking cauldron?

Well, unless all this nonsense comes to a screeching halt, that stinking cauldron may toppled over. Right into the fire.

We have been fed up so long---

Those who are now in charge of the district need to realize that we, the taxpaying public, will be satisfied with nothing less than FULL DISCLOSURE of all financial situations, bank accounts, deals, real estate ventures, charter schools and any other hooha that Ed Brand and his many friends have dreamed up.

Remember that old saying, "The Buck Stops Here!" That was President Harry Truman acknowledging that he had to answer for everything.

We demand nothing less from Tim Glover--I am sure people are still trying to keep secrets from him, because Ed Brand's truths are just so very unpleasant.

But, we need Tim Glover to say, "The Buck Stops Here! There will be no more slimy, secret deals to benefit persons known and/or unknown."

The inter-district warfare for students--between Chula Vista Elementary School District and Sweetwater--needs to come to an end. We do not need to manufacture ways to spend public monies--putting far too much into the pockets of friends of the departed Ed Brand.


shirleyberan July 17, 2014 @ 1:05 p.m.

eastlaker - there are many cauldrons media does protect. Intentional restriction of transparency. Mayors office, City attorney, council closed doors, hiding records, changing laws to inhibit access to archives and email. If the reader didn't disclose corruption, who would these days? Criminal code: don't speak about anybody and they won't talk about you. Rampant disregard for us. Better write about it eastlaker, but UT ain't interested. I hate festering, cancerous secrets too. Even the White house has crazy opposition, stonewalling, filibuster, to make needed improvements. Susan gets it. Hard to reverse the trend gone on this long, easy money for the unscrupulous rich who don't feel responsibility. The school board has intentionally put the kids way off track even to begin their success in life. Susan gets it right. Who knows what's in the interim board mind until they say something, like the money goes for the intended public school purposes, starting now.


shirleyberan July 17, 2014 @ 1:11 p.m.

Forgot the "I don't need to care, I'm Bonnie" district attorney and too many more.


eastlaker July 17, 2014 @ 2:07 p.m.

Yes, who can say what is going on with Bonnie at this point. Her blunders are public knowledge, and she is not looking like she will try to make amends. More dysfunction for San Diego, unfortunately.


Wabbitsd July 17, 2014 @ 1:35 p.m.

Please examine very very closely the list of those supporting any of the candidates running for elected offices. And look closely for "Friend" contributions, where a mover and shaker who maxes out his/her contributions nudges friends and beholding subcontractors to pony up funds.


anniej July 17, 2014 @ 2:09 p.m.

Wabbitsd - surely that is not the reason for all of these construction adjustments we are seeing on the agenda.


Bvavsvavev July 17, 2014 @ 7 p.m.

The Charter at Castle Park was started in Ed brand style - bullying, forceful, secretive, maybe even illegally. That certainly is par for the course for Ed. Good riddance!

As far as the CVESD Charters, they are popular with parents and students as they are providing a great alternative to the traditional schools. Their popularity with parents, and the fact that they wanted their kids to attend CVESD k-8 charters, is what started Brand on the open boundaries, iPads, and charters course.

CVESD seems to have the charter thing down. Results, ie attendance - seems to support this even though most teachers don't.

Their is a place for charters! The additional choice is great for parents and children, and it keeps the traditional schools on their toes.

However, Ed Brand charters are no good for anyone!


oldchulares July 17, 2014 @ 11:53 p.m.

Bv hey guy you have been sorely missed.


eastlaker July 18, 2014 @ 1:13 a.m.

Presto Change-o Charter Schools as brought to you by the wan specter of the Lone Trustee!

"We will take over what we declare underused, because that's how we can get away with it."

Does it really matter that those rooms were planned for the Special Ed students, who now no longer have access?

Does our Lone Trustee (far more hat than cattle) even recognize what a public display of disrespect this is?

Probably not, for the Lone Trustee is not able to have empathy, as he suffers from 'ego-driven neuropathy'--if it isn't about him, it doesn't matter to him.

So, how does one manage the Lone Trustee? This usually works: do something good, and then he will make an effort to take credit for it, even if he was vehemently opposed to it previously. The Lone Trustee, rewriter of history, stealer of limelight, definitely not the hero of the hour.


iamthetruth July 18, 2014 @ 9:59 a.m.

Some of you are complaining about tax money wasted. The facts are that ensenadamaria instigated a smear campaign and wasted taxpayers money on an investigation that resulted in no disciplinary action.

There will be much more revealed, much more.


Ensenadamaria July 18, 2014 @ 1:03 p.m.

iamthetruth I did? You have me confused with someone in a much higher pay grade that helped in the efforts to expose the truth.


iamthetruth July 19, 2014 @ 2:36 p.m.

Do you mean the collusion between ensenadamaria, WTFed, and Luzzaro to embarrass the district for political gamesmanship?

The investigation of Mr. Bleisch clears him of any wrong doing. It appears that angry zealots lied or misrepresented to cause harm and squash the charter school movement. They have been identified and will be held liable for slander. These bullies (several with internet courage) want due process for themselves but not for others. By the way, the anonymous lies in the investigation and in the blogs (perhaps not anonymous in both areas) to harm others will not protect you from a lawsuit.


anniej July 18, 2014 @ 2:08 p.m.

Last evenings agenda indicated that the. Principal at CPM is on Unpaid leave - he is now listed as a teacher.

The community is honing in on the monies being spent on the Charter. Our personnel, our public tax dollars - so,,,,, it would appear that the Charter is NOT doing as well as Ed Brand was reporting. There were many Eastlake residents there raising concerns, once again, regarding transportation. Conversations before the meeting came to order focused on why they have to come back over and over again on the same issue. We are paying for Charters but not buses? John McCann's bid for a city council seat also came up - Mr. McCann better start brushing up on his IT skills, as it appears he is going to need them. Folks are disenchanted with him, and that is putting it mildly.

This should be one of the questions asked of our candidates - what are your intentions regarding the Charters?


eastlaker July 18, 2014 @ 6:57 p.m.

Is there a way to find out what the real numbers are for the charter schools? How many students are enrolled, whether numbers are steady, or going up or down?

Because as it is clear now that Ed Brand lied when he said that the charter schools were not costing the district anything. If this is just one more hair-brained Brand scheme, shouldn't we be able to say, announce that it did not work out, and work with parents and students to find an appropriate school?

Why aren't we getting real numbers? At least for the past year, or however long the charters have been up and running.

Dismantling all the Brand Jobs for Friends programs may take some effort. I am sure there are more consultants out there who were given a job out of loyalty. What about the grand Sweetwater Athletic Hall of Fame? Taking up floor space somewhere, giving at least a couple of people jobs...why does that continue to exist when school children are told they need to walk to school over 2 miles in the dark, carrying iPADS? Talk about your easy targets.

Dr. Glover, we need you to take a very careful look at what Ed Brand has left behind. There needs to be a shift from what benefits Ed's friends to what benefits the students.


Chris_Shilling July 18, 2014 @ 9:35 p.m.

A change in culture is coming. We will end all of these issues that focus on adults, and put the focus back on decision-making that is in the best interest of the students, at all levels of the district.


anniej July 19, 2014 @ 7:43 a.m.

Mr. Shilling: what are your plans regarding opening the closet doors and exposing all of the hidden skeletons?

The SUHSD Board, has, for years treated the bill payers with disrespect. The business, OUR business has been hidden under the cloak of closed session. Sooooo many dirty little secrets.


Chris_Shilling July 19, 2014 @ 10:26 a.m.

I believe we need to find out what happened in the past, complete an assessment of where we are at in the present, and layout a road map for where the district will go in the future.

I am supportive of a complete and comprehensive independent audit that is fully shared with the public. After the first comprehensive audit I would like to see at minimum an independent financial audit completed and shared annually.

I want to look into making more documents available online and ensuring that all documents are made available online at the same time they are available to the board. These are public documents and the public has a right to easily and fully access them.

I would also like to examine streaming and archiving board meetings online. It seems like this could be accomplished at minimal cost with the district's current resources but provides another way for the public to remain informed and involved.

The board and the school district does the public's business and when doing the public's business it should be done in full view of the public. Transparency isn't a buzz word it is a culture. That is the type of culture we will develop at the district.


anniej July 19, 2014 @ 8:03 a.m.

Eastlaker: dismantling the 'friends of Brands Program, amen sista! We might also include a retraining course for those District personnel who spent more time kissing the ring than doing their job - not to mention the hidden agenda vendettas. Yes, many qualified employees have been in hurt and for what? Betcha there are a few 'suits' more than a bit nervous about now, not to mention some of those 'non suits'.

We will begin anew, as one united front, working together for the good of the students and best interests of the taxpayers. That will be the NEW AGENDA! Leave your egos in the parking lot.


eastlaker July 19, 2014 @ 12:42 p.m.

After school programs bring lots of money with them. We have some highly-touted programs and some highly paid people in charge. Can we take a closer look?

Are any of their enrollment and attendance numbers being independently verified? Because I have often heard that numbers can be inflated so that certain levels are achieved and dollars obtained.

Sweetwater needs to make sure that any programs being run for Sweetwater students are well-run.

Believe it or not, I have actually heard that sometimes what is on paper differs enormously from the reality of the situation. I am not saying that is what is going on with the Boys & Girls Club program and the Y program, but I am saying that now is a very good time to make sure NO ONE is 'adjusting' any data points along the way.

Sweetwater has had far too much history with that, and we need to demonstrate that now--finally--everything is open and above-board.


oskidoll July 19, 2014 @ 3:02 p.m.

Eastlaker....good points and ideas. While we are at it (looking at those contracted-for programs run for Sweetwater students, let's not forget the South Bay Community Services programs, which are renewed each year in the SUHSD budget, and quite costly. I am not implying they are not good for the students, just that the SBCS programs ought to be subject to checking for value received as a routine matter.


Ensenadamaria July 19, 2014 @ 4:15 p.m.

iamtruth The District has embarrassed itself as proven with all of the guilty pleas. Collusion?


SpecialEd July 19, 2014 @ 5 p.m.

What about the principal who supports bullying and harrassing teachers, makes teachers sick, gives employees anxiety disorder, and causes teachers to retire early and leave the profession? Is she staying on the payroll, too? She makes Bleisch look like sweet little SpongeBob Squarepants. Do you have a student who needs disciplining? She will side with the parents and go against the teacher every time. Are your kids bullied at school? She will go against the teachers who try to discipline the bully. Nobody wants to work for this principal. NOBODY. Everyone wants OUT. School is starting...welcome to HELL.


Chris_Shilling July 19, 2014 @ 9:05 p.m.

Please contact me. I would like to try to help.


anniej July 19, 2014 @ 5:27 p.m.

SpecialEd - If your claims are true I am quite sure Dr. Glover is well prepared to eradicate that which you claim. Lets all remember we are working together for a new positive beginning.

iamtruth - I looked back over Ensenadmaria's comments, they do not appear slanderous to me. Personal opinions are protected by the Constitution last time I checked. The articles written by Ms. Luzzaro - most informative and very appreciated. WTFEd looks like a District Office employee. We are, after all, a country that values freedom of the press. If the investigation proved, as you state, unsubstantiated, then said principal will be back on Wednesday. Regarding the Charter, my issue with SUHSD's is simple - why are my public school taxes being used to support a 'private' Charter?

In any event it is time to look towards a brighter future, November will bring a new Board and new beginnings.


eastlaker July 20, 2014 @ 7:12 a.m.

anniej, yes, why are our public school taxes being used to support a private Charter?

We got a partial answer at the board meeting when Mr. Calhoun said that the district charges the charters some 3% handling fee...and then there is the concept of using charter designations to give schools in Performance Improvement a clean slate.

But there is also the fact that once charter designations are in place, the community has little control over that school...forgive me if I am wrong, but aren't teachers of charter schools in somewhat weaker positions than are teachers in regular public schools?

Administrators have much more freedom to move teachers like chess pieces, and in this way...retaliate against teachers if they so choose. Yes, this type of administrative control must have been very appealing to Ed Brand. Perhaps Dr. Glover can do something about this issue?

I am of the opinion that all of Ed Brand's pet projects need to be thoroughly scrutinized, all of the consultants he had a hand in hiring need to be stringently evaluated and his efforts to set up the Athletic Hall of Fame as well as the separate CIF section should be examined as simply part of his Jobs For Friends program.

Here's a thought...if you want an Athletic Hall of Fame, why not have a virtual one, online. And why restrict it to athletes of Sweetwater? Why not have a Sweetwater Alumni Hall of Fame, for all former students who have made outstanding contributions in their chosen fields? Again--we need to really think about what should stay and what should go!! (Reminds me of another old rock song...)!


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