Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Kim Longo suggests runner-up Russell Coronado as Cheryl Cox replacement


Appointing trustees defeats the will of the voters.

Kim Longo's idea was good in 2006, and it's even better now. The CVESD incumbents delayed Russell Coronado's entry to the board of CVESD for two years, obviously against the wishes of the voters. Instead, they appointed David Bejarano.

The CVESD incumbents shouldn't do the same to Archie McAllister.

Mr. McAllister would have won on November 4, 2008 if David Bejarano hadn't had a spoiler (Norberto Salazar) on the ticket to split the vote against him..


A letter from CVESD parent Kim Longo appeared in the Nov 16, 2006 edition of the San Diego Union Tribune. It's a well thought-out and well-written suggestion. If the board can summon up some respect for the voters, they will follow Kim's suggestion. Perhaps their slogan for the new year could be AN END TO ARROGANCE.

Here's Ms. Longo's letter:

Regarding the Chula Vista Elementary School District's board vacancy:

It seems to be too great an expense to conduct another election in order to fill the vacant seat left by outgoing board member Cheryl Cox. Rather than engage in the same path that subjected Patty Chavez to such initial negative scrutiny after she was appointed to fill a Chula Vista City Council vacancy, the CVESD existing board members should take a lesson from the outrage of the community's response, and respect the voters' wishes expressed in the board election of last week. That is, the board should appoint the candidate who received the highest number of votes from the voting public in Chula Vista. At last count, that candidate is Russell Coronado.

Chula Vista

Does Lowell Billings' secretary support cover-ups at CVESD?

See all posts about Lowell Billings.

Two stories about Lowell Billings:

STORY #1 JULY 2007
Billings explains why he is paid so much money

"I think a big part of it has to do with accountability,” said Chula Vista Superintendent Lowell Billings, when asked by Channel 10 News why the taxpayers give him $205,000 per year to run Chula Vista Elementary School District.

This makes me wonder all the more about Mr. Billings' approval of this document.

I'd understand the big salary better if he'd said, "I'm good at keeping the school board's secrets" or "I know better than to show up for a deposition regarding crimes committed by CVESD."

Being accountable means NOT keeping secrets, Mr. Billings. Being accountable requires transparency.

When Billings was Assistant Superintendent for Business Services at Chula Vista Elementary School District, he ignored a teacher's report that she had been tricked by a man who had been chosen by the district to go into classrooms and talk to teachers about investing. The man was Anthony Pavia.

Fortunately, the teacher was able to get her money out of the account that had been sold to her as a different type of investment.

But it turned out to be a double swindle. It wasn't until much later that the teacher discovered that money was being taken out of her paycheck every month for an account which she had specifically disapproved. Pavia presented the teacher with a form that had two companies names written on it. The teacher had never expressed any interest in the first company. She did want to invest in the second company.

Pavia told the teacher that he didn't have any extra forms, so she would have to cross out and intital the name of the company she didn't want. Then he said the company she did want would also have to be crossed out and initialed and its name had to be rewritten on the first line, above the crossed-out words.

Then came the real fraud.

Without the teacher's knowledge, Pavia (or his assistant) wrote in the name of the company the teacher did not want. Lowell Billings approved this bizarre document, and money started flowing out of the teacher's paycheck every month. She didn't notice it for a long time, because she was not in the habit of carefully examining her pay stubs.

How many such documents, with both first and second lines scribbled out, did Lowell Billings approve? How many complaints did he get from teachers? Why did he refuse to talk to teachers who complained? Did Billings have an account with Anthony Pavia that gave Billings financial advantages in return for looking the other way as Pavia swindled teachers?

When she reported the second swindle, Lowell Billings again refused to talk to the teacher. Billings even refused, until after repeated requests, to give her a copy of the document that had allowed the monthly withdrawals from her paycheck.


Does CVESD manage to keep wrongdoing secret from the Superintendent's secretary?

A short letter by CVESD Superintendent Lowell Billings' secretary appeared in the San Diego Union Tribune on Nov 16, 2006. (See letter below) Linda Robertson, whose name was misspelled as "Lidda Robertson," claims that challengers to board incumbents told "untruths." Ms. Robertson does not say what these untruths were. She apparently feels no need to back up this extremely pejorative allegation.

Perhaps Ms. Robinson is so comfortable with the status quo at CVESD that she is in a state of denial about the wrongdoing by the board. It may also be true that she is not privy to information about such wrongdoing. I have plenty of documents I'd be happy to show her, if she is interested in dealing with facts.

Ms. Robertson claims that the incumbents won because voters saw "through the candidates dishonesty." This is a completely unwarranted assumption. Incumbents always win almost ALL elections in the United States. One reason is that they are able to raise huge amounts of money from people that do business with their agencies. This was certainly the case for CVESD incumbents. Designers and builders were very generous to the board. I don't think this generosity had much to do with wanting the best for children. There were San Francisco designers contributing to a Chula Vista school board race! You don't think they're expecting to get back their investment when the board is handing out contracts, do you, Ms. Robertson?Otayranchheritage.com notes that Douglas E Barnhardt, school builder/renovator planner (Salt Creek, McMillin, Tiffany etc) gave $10,000 to support the incumbents. His design partners Ruhnan Ruhnan Clark and Assc. recently put a bid in at CVESD for work the Otay Ranch Village 7 elementary school.

Here's another reason incumbents tend to win:
Leslie T. says, "self-aggrandizing bombast and big spending on advertising ...give the name recognition so many voters (unfortunately) use to cast their ballots these days."

Here is Ms. Robertson's letter:
As an employee of Chula Vista Elementary School District and a Chula Vista resident, I was disgusted with the untruths told by school board candidates Tamara Arce, Felicia Starr and Steve Yagyagan, and Chula Vista Mayor Steve Padilla. For school board candidates, this election was a vindictive time. For Padilla, it was a slap in the face to call this district "failing."

I am so thankful that the voters were able to see through the candidates' dishonesty and voted for board incumbents Larry Cunningham, Bertha Lopez and Pamela Smith, and for Cheryl Cox, soon to resign from the board because she was elected mayor of Chula Vista. They have always given 100 percent for every student.

Chula Vista

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Voters Should Have Been Told When $20,000 Went Missing from Castle Park Elementary PTA Accounts


Approximately $20,000 was discovered to be missing from PTA accounts at Castle Park Elementary at the end of the 2004-2005 school year. Since that time, Castle Park Elementary has been without a PTA. Voters in other parts of San Diego read in the newspaper about money missing from their schools. South County voters are kept in the dark.

In 2004, three local newspapers (The San Diego Union-Tribune, the Chula Vista Star-News, and La Prensa) wrote many stories about the transfer of five teachers out of Castle Park Elementary, but hid the fact that Robin Donlan, one of the teachers who was transferred, was being sued for criminal actions against another teacher at the school.

Chula Vista Elementary School District SPENT HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS to defend Donlan and her close associates. Donlan’s close personal friend, Chula Vista Educators President Gina Boyd, was also named in the lawsuit.

Why did South County newspapers hide the real story? Why did they give Robin Donlan, Gina Boyd and their close associate, former Castle Park Elementary PTA President Felicia Starr, free rein to attack CVESD Superintendent Lowell Billings and Principal Ollie Matos, while refusing to print any of the many letters they received in Billings’ and Matos’ defense?

The reason is that hiding the truth from voters is more important to South County newspapers than telling readers the full story.

Now that Felicia Starr is running for school board in Chula Vista, voters need a follow-up to all the one-sided articles such as the Star-News' Sept. 10, 2004 story, "Castle Park Principal Continues to Draw Fire."

That story contained many harsh allegations by Felicia Starr, who was at that time the recent past President of the Castle Park Elementary PTA, and Kim Simmons, who was the current PTA President. Many people at Castle Park Elementary believed that Kim Simmons was chosen to replace Starr because she did whatever Starr told her to do.

Felicia Starr and Kim Simmons, as well as teacher union President Gina Boyd and teacher Robin Donlan, all seemed to be joined at the hip right up to the time that the Castle Park Elementary PTA self-destructed. The public has a right to know more about Starr, Simmons, Boyd, and Donlan, who were given a large amount of newspaper space to criticize Billings and Matos.

Matos was a dynamic and decent principal who tried to get parents involved in the school as the law requires. Starr and Simmons did not want, for various reasons, to allow some parents to run for office in the PTA. The Star-News did not give those who were attacked by Starr and Simmons a chance to respond.

It now appears that those parents who were kept out of the PTA hierarchy were lucky, since they are NOT the targets of Detective Wayne Wooten’s Chula Vista Police Department investigation into what appears to be a serious crime.

For more information about problems at Chula Vista Elementary School District and San Diego County Office of Education, see the SAN DIEGO EDUCATION REPORT at mauralarkins.com. This site was created in an attempt to remedy the culture of secrecy that pervades Chula Vista Elementary School District and Castle Park Elementary.

Since I attended Castle Park Elementary as a child, and taught third grade there until 2001, I care about this school. Candidate Felicia Starr NEVER mentions Castle Park Elementary on her website. She is covering-up her past. Voters deserve to know the truth.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Pamela Smith, Lozano-Smith and the Moser case

Pamela Smith

Pamela Smith and Felicia Starr have both worked to cover up serious violations of law at Castle Park Elementary. It's clear that each of them has personal priorities which they consider more important than the public interest and the education of children.

And that they support the illegal tactics recommended by district lawyers. How many school districts choose lawyers that will help them violate the law?

200 school districts have chosen the notorious law firm of Lozano, Smith. How corrupt is Lozano-Smith? All 80 members of this law firm were ordered by a federal judge in 2005 to take an ethics course. The Bret Harte Union School District near Sacramento channeled almost half a million taxpayer dollars to this firm in an effort to avoid providing student Robert Moser with special education help. U.S. District Judge Oliver Wanger was so disgusted with Lozano, Smith that he wrote a scorching 83-page opinion in which he accused the district of "repeated misstatements of the record, frivolous objections to plaintiff's statement of facts, and repreated mischaracterizations of the law."

"Lozano should have told their client early this case was a loser and cut their losses, but they didn't and just got in deeper and deeper," said Judge Wanger, as reported by Pamela A. MacLean of The National Law Journal.

This is precisely the same behavior practiced by CVESD's two law firms, Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff & Holtz and Parham, Rajcic. These law firm and the CVESD board have long been deeply in need of ethics training.

It should also be mentioned that San Diego County Office of Education uses the services of Lozano, Smith. I wonder if the new SDCOE superintendent, Randy Ward, has any plans to find more ethical lawyers. So far, he has ignored suggestions that he do just that.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

When will Pamela Smith and Felicia Starr talk about the money missing from the Castle Park Elementary PTA?

To: Don Sevrens
Editor, San Diego Union Tribune

I enjoyed your July 20, 2006 editorial about the Chula Vista Ethics Board.

I could tell it was you who wrote it because of the way you described Felicia Starr without even a hint of irony.

Felicia Starr was a member of the Castle Park Elementary site council, with oversight over the school, when $20,000 went missing from the PTA in 2005. Not a word of that apparent felony was whispered in your paper, the San Diego Union Tribune, although you printed many stories, letters and editorials about Castle Park Elementary. When Felicia wanted to assert her personal power, she brought the teachers union president, Gina Boyd, to observe the Castle Park School Site Council.

Felicia and the PTA president were joined at the hip, as was obvious from the stories the Chula Vista Star News wrote about them. Felicia was the immediate past president of the PTA in 2004, when the 2004-2005 PTA president was chosen. It appeared that she was chosen because she did what Starr told her to do.

I remember one school board meeting when the PTA president took pictures of me, and then Felicia and Gina huddled together over the digital camera, whispering about the pictures, as the board meeting progressed.

I was flattered by the attention. Do you think they were trying to intimidate me?

I think you and I are going to have an interesting election season. You’ll be telling lies with a straight face, and I’ll be telling the truth. I don’t think I’ll be able to keep a straight face when talking about the antics of your friends at Castle Park Elementary.

P.S. I wonder when mayoral candidate Cheryl Cox will talk about the $20,000 missing from the Castle Park Elementary PTA?

When money recently went missing from Valhalla High School, the East County Edition of the San Diego Union Tribune wrote about it. How come the South County edition of the paper keeps stories covered up? $2,000 also went missing from the Castle Park Elementary PTA in 1998! Do we have a trend here?

The Union Tribune never mentioned that Chula Vista Elementary School District had paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend or represent members of the "Castle Park Five" in a lawsuit. Don Sevrens wrote about Robin Donlan, Peggie Myers, and Nikki Perez as if they were innocent teachers that were being picked on by the principal.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Why is it so difficult to get rid of a poorly performing teacher in California?

This question was asked by Richard Ehisen of the Sacramento News and Review on May 17, 2001. (See http://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/Content?oid=oid%3A6202.)

The answer is: their friends protect them.

On the other hand, these same teachers who protect incompetent peers often attack competent teachers. The reason? Jealousy, competition, jockeying for control of the school.

Wait a minute. Aren't institutions run by women, as many schools are, more gentle, kind, and caring?

Maybe not.

Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State, said, "I'm not a person who thinks the world would be entirely different if it was run by women. If you think that, you've forgotten what high school was like."

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Fair Use Notice

Some copyrighted material is made available on this site in order to supply voters and citizens with information about public education. I believe that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, I am making no profit through this site, and am distributing information only to those who have exhibited a prior interest in receiving information for research and educational purposes. Please obtain permission from the copyright owner if you want to use material from this site for purposes beyond “fair use.”

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Why did CVESD protect Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff & Holtz?

Susan Fahle
Assistant Superintendent for Business Services
Chula Vista Elementary School District

Dear Ms. Fahle:

I am trying to find out why CVESD defended Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff & Holtz regarding my obstruction of justice lawsuit, when CVESD was not involved in the case.

When a public entity defends its lawyers for obstruction of justice, one begins to wonder just how corrupt that public entity is. It would appear that you, Ms. Fahle, as Assistant Superintendent for Business Services, authorized this action. Your actions do not pass the smell test.

Pursuant to the California Public Records act, I request that I be allowed to view the contract or contracts entered into by Chula Vista Elementary School District and Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff & Holtz (STUTZ) or Stutz, Gallagher, Artiano, Shinoff & Holtz, during the years 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Is the San Diego Union-Tribune wrong about Castle Park Elementary?

The San Diego Union Tribune (SDUT) recently published an "editorial" about Castle Park Elementary.

The May 25, 2006 editorial said, "The uproar at Castle Park started in August 2004 and did not end until this month.""

Really? What happened this month? The editorial fails to tell the reader this crucial bit of information.

The statement, "The uproar at Castle Park started in August 2004 and did not end until this month," is a false statement. The writer knew the statement was false if he or she had any real knowledge of Castle Park Elementary. The Union Tribune has long been aware that the uproar at Castle Park Elementary began NOT IN AUGUST 2004, but WELL BEFORE FEBRUARY 2001. It began when one Castle Park teacher committed a crime against a fellow teacher. The teacher who committed the crime later became infamous as one of the "Castle Park Five."

The SDUT has also long been aware of the San Diego Superior Court case that resulted from this crime. Unfortunately, honest journalism is not a high priority at the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The violations of law by Castle Park teachers and ex-teachers, including the President of Chula Vista Educators, have been covered up by the SDUT even as it has published an avalanche of letters, articles and anonymous editorials about the "Castle Park Five."

If it's an editorial, that means that an editor at the newspaper wrote it, right?

Not necessarily. The SDUT offers certain individuals a way out of the requirement that all letters to the editor must be signed in order to be published. I found out about this policy from an individual who was asked by the SDUT to write an editorial.

Sometimes you can tell when this happens because the editorial is poorly written. Other times, you can't tell. The May 25 article seems to be well-written, but it is clear that the writer is intentionally deceiving readers.

How, you may ask, do I know that the uproar at Castle Park Elementary is not over? I know because I am planning to file suit within the next few months regarding subornation of perjury by lawyers for Castle Park Elementary teachers who were being deposed during the above-mentioned Superior Court case.

Friday, June 09, 2006

This could be the year--or not

Chula Vista Elementary School District deteriorated over the last fifteen years, beginning about the time Libby Gil was brought in from Seattle. But Libby was not the basic problem, she was only the symptom of an underlying decay. The real problem is a board of education without imagination, courage or respect for students, teachers and taxpayers.