anniej June 12, 2012 @ 12:02 a.m.

i too was in attendance at this evenings sweetwater board meeting - the information in question was provided to the board clerk - copies for all of the board members to follow along and it was given to dr brand. dr. brand failed to hand the board members their copies WHY??????????????????????????????????

if the Bond Oversight Committee collectively are raising the red flag then why shouldn't we? if they are concerned, then why shouldn't we be? from what i heard they are being disrespected in their roles of oversight members, now that is unacceptable, clearly unacceptable.

the documents were obtained from the County - FROM THE COUNTY!!!! there is no disputing the numbers, what is being disputing is why, why is the district continuing to borrow from prop o bond dollars.

what this has done is made it perfectly clear that NO FUTURE BOND PROPOSALS will fly in the south bay for the district of sweetwater under the current leadership of interim superintendent brand or the majority of the board. board member bertha lopez is the ONLY board member who has consistently asked the tough questions. board member lopez is the ONLY board member who understands what being a board member is all about - acting in a responsible manner protecting the education of our youth and responsibly handling the tax dollars of the south bay community.

speakers spoke of more important data to come. THERE IS MORE????????????????


anniej June 12, 2012 @ 12:37 a.m.

Ms. Luzzarro: i have observed Mr. Vasquez for a couple of years now. He is NOT a detractor, quite the opposite. He has at every opportunity pointed out more about what is right with the students, teachers, parents and some aspects of the board. the fact the board and brand are charged by law to provide information to the boc is regulation, so why isn't brand honoring what he is legally charged with doing.

our board is not use to dealing with a bond oversight committee (boc) president who is dedicated to integrity. for far too long the boc was led by 'yes' persons, i.e. persons who were associated with certain board members, i.e. either married to them or a sorority sister of one of them. well this is a new dawn day of a new day - and we the community are proud that there are now members of the boc that are willing to stand up and speak the truth. i mean after all isn't that what they are legally charged with doing? what could potentially happen to Mr. Vasquez and the other members if they chose to turn a blind eye?

"hello Ms. Bonnie Dumanis, we know you are busy, but we need you to look into our district. - AGAIN"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"hello, County Board of Educations, i believe there is the real possibility that the sweetwater district is insolvent - so you tell us, who calls the STATE, your or us?"

the information, provided which is based on the county board's numbers is proof, proof that there is much wrong with sweetwater under the leadership of the majority of the board and the interim superintendent, brand.


johndewey June 12, 2012 @ 8:03 a.m.

Mr. Brand: You say, "The reporter did not bother to seek clarification or comment from anyone in the district administration." You've got to be kidding. Mr. Vasquez, who chairs the district's bond oversight committee has been trying for months to get clarification from the district administration to no avail. You also wrote, "We demand that you retract the story and offer an apology..." Question: Who is the WE you refer to? Your consultant firm? Remember, you are INTERIM. In fact, you even call yourself a consultant (I understand that's so you can rake in your retirement as well as ripping the public off for $20,000 a month.The Reader has been a consistent source of truth about this corrupt district, and for that the public is grateful. It is you, not this reporter who owes the community an apology and a retraction of your ridiculous comment.


johndewey June 12, 2012 @ 8:03 a.m.

I want to thank the dedicated members of the community who attend every board meeting and represent the interests of the public.


erupting June 12, 2012 @ 11:27 a.m.

Thank You Reader and Ms. Luzzaro for the unbiased,honest reporting that is your signature in reporting.I'm gladden by the fact that you do not feel that you have to the superintendents approval to do an article.


angrybirds June 12, 2012 @ 12:54 p.m.

Why hasn't the county, state or federal government taken over this district? Dr. Brand you are a scam you always have been and you always will be. All of your comments that you love this district and you are back to help is a bunch of crap! The love came with a $20,000 a month price tag and let me tell you that is not love that is greed. You fit in very well with the greedy board you attempt to lead, they are just as bad as you. Shame on you and shame on them for keeping you. But as a friend who was at the meeting last night told me the only people with any sort of brains and/or common sense are the people that speak at every board meeting. They are the ones that care for the students and the staff they do this for FREE and all they get from this board and you are smirks, and a lack of attention to the logical things they are saying. Maybe if you all would put aside the ego's and listen you would find truth and logic into their questions and remarks. This district is a definite hell hole and is drowning in their own lies and ineptitude's. Ms. Luzzaro keep up the good work and thank your editor for now cowering to the idiotic bulling tactics that Brand tried to pose on you because we all know the UT cowered!

I would love to see those reports everyone is referring to that Brand decided not to give to the board, not that they would understand anything or ask questions. Could the reader get a copy of those reports to post them if possible?


justateacher May 8, 2012 @ 12:32 p.m.

Having lived through the Gandara era and Brand's first era, last night was stunning. It was one of the most disgusting meetings I have ever attended. First, you plan to layoff close to 200 teachers, yet you will only let 10 people speak to the topic and even those ten have to be limited to 2 minutes each. This isn't a meeting that was even going toward midnight - we were done by 9. But even if it was going to midnight, doesn't the district, at the very least, owe those teachers the respect of letting them speak. Doesn't it owe the parents the respect of letting them speak? One of the speakers last night made a very good point - this board has never been a discussion board. It has been a - come in and vote board. Their purpose as a board is supposed to be to list the items to be considered, to listen to the public's view on these items, and then to take those views into consideration when they vote. That just doesn't happen. Brand was taking on all of the Gandara's mannerisms last night. He cut off speakers, he rocked back in his chair, he carried on conversations with Quinones while speakers were talking (and yet reprimanded audience members for talking). This is a man who was just given $120,000 to stick around for 6 more months while they consider whether or not they should START a search for a new superintendent. When Bertha Lopez tried to point out that the wording was implying that they needed more time to continue the search which wasn't correct since it hadn't been started Pearl Quinones just didn't get what her point was. The wording should have been - Ed Brand will continue as superintendent for the next six months at a pay rate of $20,000 per month. It should have never been written to imply that a search was already ongoing. But then again this is Sweetwater. When questioned about the fact that many of the 7th grade curriculum resources are not compatible with the iPads, Dr. Brands response was, that's a lie. And if they're not we'll just make PDF's of them. When an audience member shouted a question about the legality of that his response was, they want our business and they'll do what we tell them. Now who does that sound like? The argument that management is willing to take a pay cut "if necessary" makes no sense. It's clearly their point that they will take a pay cut IF the district isn't able to get the teachers to give up something instead. The argument that teacher jobs could be saved if SEA would just bargain completely ignores the fact that the money is there in reserves and in smarter spending of what we already have. They want others to sacrifice so that they can continue to spend unchecked and run their little pet projects (i.e. the charter school ($500,000 loan from general fun) and the iPad program ($4.2 million so far). The mood on campuses across the district today was horrendous. Do not ever forget that it is our STUDENTS who are feeling this pain. And the cause is NOT the teachers but the board & Dr. Brand.


Jmbrickley May 9, 2012 @ 10:07 a.m.

As long as I'm on the subject of gun totin', the whole situation at Sweetwater is beginning to resemble a B-grade spaghetti western. You know the plot, the outlaw gang controls the town; harasses, intimidates, threatens the townfolk. Then a few good citizens try to take their town back, and the bad guys bring in a few "hired guns."


oskidoll June 13, 2012 @ 10:13 p.m.

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

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

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

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

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

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


joepublic June 13, 2012 @ 10:21 p.m.

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


erupting June 13, 2012 @ 10:43 p.m.

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


eastlaker June 13, 2012 @ 11:06 p.m.

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

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

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


oskidoll June 12, 2012 @ 1:59 p.m.

Whoa! The meeting of 6/11 was recessed prior to Public Comment !!!! So the public was denied its Brown Act rights to be heard during an open meeting of a public agency???? As of today (6/12) there is no notice of a resumption of the 'recessed' meeting of 6/11.

And who is Dr. Brand to 'decide' that he only agrees to place an item on the agenda (his quote in UT article) only if and when he has the ok of three board members? That smacks of collusion of board members, which is absolutely prohibited by the Brown Act. He just does not have any authority to do that.

Further, the Brown Act, as well as the SUHSD own by laws, stipulate that any member of the board (singular) or any member (singular) of the public may provide agenda items.

Please call in the 'Brown Act' police here and arrest Dr. Brand and Co. There are flagrant violations here.


eastlaker June 12, 2012 @ 3:12 p.m.

Yes, you got it!!

Several more violations of the Brown Act (which are now added to the already long list)--shouldn't this mean that it is time for other authorities to step in and take over? Brand is clearly out of control. The board is disfunctional. The people who are responsible enough to want to accomplish business are not being allowed to.

The system has been hijacked by self-serving politicos whose biggest interest is in keeping the scam going.

This must end.


Greenville June 12, 2012 @ 7:16 p.m.

Dr. Brand, thank you for joining the conversation. After reading all of these comments, and reflecting on my own experience as a Sweetwater employee, I am reminded of the advice I received from a district administrator regarding my rejected application for an administration position. This person advised me to be patient because those in power had a lot of favors that they needed to repay. Could a few of those people be principals who are key campaign contributors to one of the indicted board members? What about those administrators who have contributed so many times to so many board member campaigns, that one would think they were tithing to a church? I could continue, but that would be a digression. The point is that this board is financially beholden to the very people it purports to supervise. These very same district administrators run our district, write your reports, and until very recently offered legal advice. There are other recent questionable promotions which have the same flavor. Who are you protecting Dr. Brand, or who are you rewarding for their loyalty and silence? I have absolutely no faith in the ability of this school board to do anything other than protect their own pocket books, floundering political aspirations, and diminishing reputations. Sadly, I have observed that those who would question you do not have the background needed to fully and effectively challenge you. I can only hope that the press will keep reporting, that the recall will be successful, and that two of our board members will go to prison. If we do not clean house, I doubt that there is a single eligible superintendent candidate who will apply for the job.


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?


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.


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.


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?


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.


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