Monday, December 24, 2007

Answer to previous post: Yes, CVESD's action is illegal, as Capistrano Unified administrators found out

See also San Diego County Department of Education.
See also Lora Duzyk.

Click here to see the original post.

Capistrano Unified - Former Superintendent & Assistant Indicted!
May 24th, 2007
by Kelly at Rancho Santa Margarita Lifestyles
This morning District Attorney Tony Rackauckas issued a statement outlining the investigation of Former Superintendent James Fleming and Former Assistant Superintendent Susan McGill and the indictments handed down as a result of those investigations. The charges were actually brought ten days ago, but were unsealed today.Fleming is charged with:

Misappropriation of public funds
Use of school funds to defeat the recall effort

McGill is charged with:

Here’s something to think about. If convicted Fleming ’s maximum sentence would be four years. McGill’s however would be five. Where’s the justice in that? Why is it that the major player in a crime always seems to get less time than a minor player trying to cover their tracts? Fair or not, those are the rules. So a word to the wise: tell the truth!

Rancho Santa Margarita residents who reside within the Capistrano Unified School District boundaries have been anxiously awaiting the outcome of the investigation which began early in 2006. The school district has been riddled with problems in the past few years, not the least of which was a heated recall effort waged against Fleming for (surprise!) alleged mismanagement of school district funds.

Parents residing in the Capo District were also understandably critical of the District’s decision to purchase and move into a pricey new district office (how “OC” of them) while hundreds of children are being wedged into dilapidated portables and using run-down, filthy bathrooms. Admittedly the former district offices were in need to some improvements. But really, wasn’t there a more equitable solution?

The whole thing just makes my blood boil. There’s always going to be controversy and political sparring where it comes to various strategies for running a school district. It’s an Everyone Knows Best kind of thing. So it goes without saying that there will always be those who question those in power. It’s healthy that way.

When it comes to the actual election of school board officials though, how much do we really know about their qualifications, morals and ethics? I may get slammed for this, but here goes: The act of voting for school district officials is more or less a crap-shoot for the average voter. Most of us make the most educated choice that we can, cross our fingers and push the button.

We really have no idea whether the person we’re voting for is truly up to the task, nor do the majority of us even have an adequate understanding of what the task actually entails. We simply don’t have time to know everything about every candidate that we vote for. Instead we rely on opinions of others that we respect. So what can we really expect? Who can we really blame when something goes wrong and incredibly poor decisions are made?

What I do know is that when I vote for a candidate I expect that person to be honest and ethical. The charges levied against both Fleming and McGill, suggest that there is sufficient reason to question whether these parties have failed in that regard. Along with all the rest of you, I will be waiting to see how this plays out. In the meantime, my fingers remain crossed that the current Supervisor and Board get it right.

Capo Schools attended by Rancho Santa Margarita students are:

Tesoro High School
Las Flores Middle School
Las Flores Elementary School
Tijeras Creek Elementary School
Arroyo Vista Elementary School

Friday, December 21, 2007

Pat Judd, David Bejarano, Pamela Smith, Larry Cunningham and Bertha Lopez spend tax dollars to prevent "trustee areas"

(Click here to see 2008 elections update.)

Is this legal? Are school board members allowed to use public resources to affect elections?

Here is a quote from the minutes of a recent CVESD board meeting:

Regular Meeting
November 13, 2007
7 P.M.

"...President López recessed to public session at 8:47 p.m and reported the following: The Board directed Legal Counsel to take all steps necessary to avoid litigation while educating the County Committee of the negative repercussion of the political actions related to the Petition for Trustee Areas..."

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Education is just like baseball: cheaters prosper

An article in the Los Angeles Times seems to be a perfect response to my previous post about dishonesty in the education establishment.

Gerry Braun didn't think cheating school officials would be brought to justice. I've noted that for years.

But it's not just schools that reward cheating adults. Baseball does it, too.

By Ross Newhan
December 16, 2007

Forget about 'Cheaters never prosper'

Owners still seem willing to pay big salaries to those involved with performance-enhancing drugs...

Of the active players among the 86 cited by Mitchell for involvement with performance-enhancing substances -- and it's impossible to believe that the clubs didn't know or couldn't ask and ascertain who was on that list before it was released -- several already have been gifted with more millions from benevolent owners, subscribing to a "don't ask, don't tell" policy.


* Andy Pettitte, who now confirms the Mitchell Report finding that he received human growth hormone from former trainer Brian McNamee, has already been re-signed by the New York Yankees for $16 million in 2008.

* Eric Gagne, shadowed by drug speculation throughout his rise, fall and revitalization, and cited in the report for HGH orders with the Dodgers, received a 2008 contract for $10 million from the Milwaukee Brewers only a few days ago, a matter of timing that General Manager Doug Melvin now calls a "black eye" for the organization.

* Paul Lo Duca, a virtual Dodgers conduit to former steroids and HGH distributor Kirk Radomski, according to the report, was recently signed to a 2008 contract for $5 million by the Washington Nationals.

* Jose Guillen, cited by the report for ordering steroids and HGH, was signed to a three-year, $36-million contract by the Kansas City Royals, who were aware he would be named in the report and suspended by Major League Baseball at the start of the 2008 season. Guillen has filed a grievance appealing his 15-day suspension.

Grade tampering at Preuss School is minor dishonesty compared to SDCOE

Academic honesty policies are a joke compared to deep corruption at top of education system.

San Diego Union Tribune Columnist Gerry Braun wrote on December 16, 2007, "It's only appropriate, then, to award a big "F/U" to whoever is responsible for the unconscionable failure of ethics at the Preuss charter school...Frankly, I'm not optimistic that justice will be served...Victoria Munoz Richart transformed her bumbling tenure as president of MiraCosta College into a pot of gold, a $1.6 million severance package."

San Diego County Office of Education-Joint Powers Authority deserves an F/U for its dishonesty policy. The SDCOE-JPA is administered by Superintendent Randolph Ward and his assistant superintendent Lora Duzyk. They have seen fit to keep Diane Crosier as director of the JPA, even though they have long known that Crosier keeps unethical lawyers on her approved lists of lawyers. Crosier helps her insurance broker Keenan and Associates make money by short-circuiting the justice system to help school districts get away with wrongdoing.

Compared to this, the big brouhaha of changed grades at UCSD's Preuss School seems like child's play to me.

The real scandal in schools is not the grades that are given, but the fact that so few students get a good education. With insurance companies, bogus repackaged education program businesses, and conservative religious leaders on the right, teachers unions on the left, and politicians on the right and left jockeying for personal power, the entire system is at a complete standstill.

Former "Principal of the Year" Doris Alvarez is apparently the unethical administrator in the Preuss grade scandal, but I don't think she's any less ethical than many other popular principals.

One of the straightest paths to popularity in school administration is to be a people pleaser, especially to people higher up than you. Personal politics is one of the driving forces in education.

The cure? A lot more openness and honesty. Especially when required by a court of law, SDCOE-JPA lawyers need to start revealing the truth about what's happening in schools. Instead, they hide behind the stone wall set up by SDCOE, insurance companies, and school districts. Sadly, this stone wall is respected by the California state courts, whose judges, particularly in the court of appeal, think schools should not have to answer to the law.

This arbitrary power is the enemy of a meritocracy, and is one of the reasons that schools are not meritocracies, but rather political arenas where far too many teachers, administrators, and board members spend their time jockeying for money and personal power instead of honestly dealing with problems.

San Diego County's school system needs to get rid of Diane Crosier and her stable of lawyers and school superintendents who ignore the law.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Chula Vista teacher wins $1 million for gender discrimination

For news about the Danielle Coziahr v. CVESD lawsuit, click HERE.

Ann Folting is now a third grade teacher at Castle Park Elementary

All the efforts of the "Castle Park Family" to prevent principal Ollie Matos from instituting a more efficient use of an experienced teacher caused a lot of turmoil and cost a lot of money, but the computer teacher is now teaching third grade.

What did the Castle Park teachers accomplish?

They let Superintendent Lowell Billings know that he had seriously underestimated the danger of covering up their crimes in the Maura Larkins case. The district had empowered them tremendously, and rewarded them for dishonesty.

When they turned on the district and Lowell Billings himself, it seems to have come as a great shock to Lowell. He became more hands-off than ever, while going around talking about his "hands-on" approach to his job.

Is the teacher culture at Castle Park Elementary still one of secrecy? Obviously. But the teachers who are there now have learned that they might be able to push Lowell Billings around, but Carlos Ulloa seems to be another story.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Missing canoeist who collected his own life insurance in England: Is the huband who planned it more guilty than the wife who did it?

Evil people couldn't prevail in this world if they didn't have followers. I think leaders and those who obey them are equally guilty.

U.K. Police Arrest Fraud Suspect's Wife

The Associated Press
Sunday, December 9, 2007; 5:34 PM

MANCHESTER, England -- Police arrested a British woman on suspicion of fraud Sunday after she claimed her husband died five years earlier in a canoeing accident and cashed in his life insurance. The husband reappeared last weekend.

British police arrested Anne Darwin, 55, once her flight from Atlanta touched down at Manchester airport. They said they hoped she could shed new light on her husband's whereabouts since he was declared officially dead from a capsized canoe in the North Sea in 2002.

Anne Darwin, left, the wife of John Darwin, the canoeist who turned up after being presumed dead leaves the police station at Manchester Airport, Manchester, England, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2007, after being arrested on her return to the country from Panama. British police awaiting Anne Darwin's arrival on an overnight flight from Atlanta, Georgia, arrested her shortly after her plane touched down Sunday morning at Manchester's airport, according to Cleveland Police, who are investigating the case.

She was undergoing a medical examination Sunday after being transferred to Cleveland, a region about 250 miles north of London where she would likely be questioned Monday in the investigation.

John Darwin, 57, turned up in London last weekend. He walked into a police station and claimed to have amnesia. He was charged Saturday with fraud and acquiring a passport in a false name, and will appear in court Monday.

Detectives have said they hope to learn how Darwin allegedly hid himself for five years and maintained contact with his wife after his staged death, and how they apparently came to be photographed together in Panama. His wife had been living there in recent months, but left the Central American country on Wednesday.

Two British newspapers, the Daily Mirror and Daily Mail, claimed to have interviewed the woman repeatedly since her husband's appearance. The newspapers quoted her as saying the couple had tens of thousands of dollars of debts.

The papers quoted her as saying her husband told her the only one way out of debt was to fake his death and that she had pleaded with him not to do it.

According to the newspapers' account, Darwin's wife said she had not expected her husband to go through with the plan _ and genuinely thought he was dead when he disappeared. But a year later, her husband came knocking at her door.

The newspapers said she told them her husband pressured her to keep his reappearance a secret so he could have himself declared dead. That would allow her to collect about $50,000 in life insurance and lift the burden of her mortgage.

They quoted her as saying that after authorities officially declared him dead, her husband moved in with her and hid in a small room reached through a concealed hole in their bedroom, and that he hid in the house for three years.

According to the newspapers, she said the two moved to Panama this year and that her husband was tired of living in hiding and decided to return to Britain, claiming to have forgotten what had happened to him.

The Daily Mirror published a photograph of the couple, apparently taken with a real estate agent in Panama and published on the company's Web site.

Police said they are in contact with the couple's two sons, who insist they had no idea their father was still alive and want nothing more to do with their parents.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

CVESD's newest board members quietly goes along with wrongdoing

CVESD board member David Bejarano

You might think a former police chief would raise a ruckus over spending tax dollars to perpetrate frauds on the court.

Or you might not.

At any rate, former San Diego police chief David Bejarano seems happy to be led by the nose by the CVESD board, which includes two nominal Democrats, Pamela Smith and Bertha Lopez, but for years has voted 5-0 to support a strict right-wing agenda.

Lowell Billings admits he doesn't do his job

In July 2007, CVESD Superintendent Lowell Billings explained 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.

But on the witness stand in the Danielle Cozaihr case yesterday, Billings admitted that he does nothing to make sure that adminstrators in CVESD are following the law, and that he really doesn't know what is going on at district schools.

Clearly, this man should not be working for a public entity. Billings has spent millions of tax dollars for lawyers to help cover up wrongdoing at CVESD. Billings, and his Assistant Superintendent Tom Cruz, and his law-breaking principal Alex Cortes should all have been fired long before this. The problem is that the school board is just as contemptuous of the law as these administrators are. Pamela Smith, Cheryl Cox/David Bejarano, Larry Cunningham, Patrick Judd and Bertha Lopez had been covering up crimes before these administrators moved into their current positions.

CVESD has two bullying programs: the one they talk about, and the one they don't

Chula Vista Elementary School District boasts about its program that solves students conflicts by talking them through.

CVESD has a different program for adults. It involves strict silence. The target of the bully isn't told about secret attacks. She never hears the allegations. No one ever asks for her side of the story. And she is usually one of the best and brightest teachers in the district. At the same time, incompetent and dishonest teachers remain in their positions.

Top district administrators and the school board don't ask what the truth of the matter is. They simply dismiss the victim of the attack from employment. And then their lawyers spend tax dollars to defend the indefensible, instead of paying those tax dollars to the people who should get them: employees and students.

Today is the final day of arguments in San Diego Superior Court in the Danielle Cozaihr case, a case that fits the mold perfectly. Superintendent Lowell Billings testified yesterday, making clear that he makes no personnel decisions himself, and then turning around and saying that he is responsible for the decisions. He sounded like an uninvolved figurehead who thinks he's among the highest paid public employees in the county simply because he goes around being seen (apparently without seeing anything, or at least not remembering what he sees.)

Five years ago, it seemed that Superintendent Libia Gil and Asst. Superintendent Richard Werlin were the problem. They were pushed out, and replaced with new faces.

Now it's clear that Lowell Billings and Tom Cruz, their replacements, are equally incompetent and mean-spirited.

How can this be? CVESD has a board of trustees consisting of five clones of George W. Bush: they all try to stay as ignorant as possible, and they think they are so morally superior that no matter what they do, God will approve.

This may be something that the "Christian" board members haven't thought of, or haven't cared about: they have been given very specific instuctions: "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." This is an admonition that Pamela Smith, Cheryl Cox/David Bejarano, Bertha Lopez, Pat Judd, and Larry Cunningham disobey everytime they pay their lawyers to perpetrate a fraud on the court.

Who are the lawyers who have helped CVESD perpetrate frauds on the court?

They are:
Pamela Dempsey, Esquire
(Cozaihr case, and hiding public records);
Mark Bresee, also of Parham & Rajcic;
and Daniel Shinoff,
Jeffery Morris,
and Kelly Angell Minnehan
of Stutz, Artiano Shinoff & Holtz.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Why is CVE trying to hide the identities of its president and VP?

I knew that Chula Vista Educators had just last week finished counting the votes after its second election in one year to choose a vice president.

I called them up this morning. A cheery woman's voice greeted me, "CVE!"

"I was wondering, who is the new vice-president of CVE?"

Without missing a beat, the woman said, "Peg Myers."

"I thought she was the president," I said.

Also without missing a beat, the woman said, "Yes, she is."

Clearly, this woman had a well-prepared script.

"Then who is the vice-president?" I asked.

"Monica Sorenson."

I thanked her, and began to wonder why CVE is trying to pretend that Jim Groth is still president (he was reelected president in 2007, a few months ago), and that Peggie Myers is still his vice president (she was elected vice president a few months ago). Jim Groth resigned after a couple of months to take a seat on the California Teachers Association board of directors.

I must assume that Peggie Myers told the receptionist to try to hide the truth. Peggie Myers is a forceful advocate for hiding the truth. When she was CVE representative for Castle Park Elementary, she made it clear that teachers had to report to her any contact they had with me. She worked hard to make sure that the truth was kept under wraps about crimes committed at the school. But she didn't succeed despite tremendous effort.

Now Myers seems to think that by continuing to cover up facts that can not be covered up, she will avoid having to deal with the fallout from her past actions. She and Jim Groth and Monica Sorenson would be wiser to quit pretending, and simply apologize and repair the harm they've done.

Monica Sorenson, by the way, was a lawyer (though currently inactive), so perhaps she's had a lot of practice at hiding information. It would appear that this is what the teachers of Chula Vista want.

And we wonder why young people grow up today without moral compasses.