Friday, May 30, 2008

What does the "Castle Park Family" do when someone speaks out about problems?

Photo: Chula Vista Educators President
Peg Myers

The morning after the May 27, 2008 meeting at Castle Park Elementary, one of the parents who spoke out at the meeting took her children in to the school, and came back to find that someone had thrown cereal and milk on her car.

Children are not normally allowed to leave the school cafeteria with milk and cereal, where breakfast was being served at the time of the vandalism. At least one adult who is connected to the "Family" was in the cafeteria.

What interest would a child have in someone else's mother who spoke at a meeting? The speaker's own children are too young to come to the attention of kids old enough to pull a stunt like this.

But several staff members and teachers at Castle Park Elementary have demonstrated out-of-control hostility in recent years, attacking fellow teachers and principals with shocking malice. The current leader of the Castle Park Family is Peg Myers, the president of Chula Vista Educators. Two of the last three CVE presidents (Peg Myers and Gina Boyd) have come to the CVE presidency directly from Castle Park Elementary, and the other one, Jim Groth, aided the cover-up of wrongdoing at the school.

Note to Superintendent Lowell Billings: It's time to end this before somebody gets hurt. It's impossible for anyone to bring order to Castle Park Elementary when the "Family" has so much invested in keeping the truth hidden. Come to the school and deal with the truth. Don't go looking for some unfortunate person to sit in the vacant principal's office. You should serve as principal of Castle Park Elementary until order is restored.

What is going on with CVESD board member Patrick Judd?

UPDATE: This question was finally answered HERE.

I'm wondering why so many people are doing searches for Pat Judd, the recent Mountain Empire School District superintendent who retired under mysterious circumstances.

My access logs tell me the most common searches that bring people to my website and blogs, and "Pat Judd" is right up there at the top, along with "CTA lawyers" and "Cheryl Cox" and a few others.

I assume that many of the searches are related to Sue Sherbondy's lawsuit against Judd. (Her allegations may have played a part in his leaving Mountain Empire.)

But that doesn't explain all the searches by Los Angeles Unified School District. Has Judd applied for a job in Los Angeles?

The upside of a Judd move to Los Angeles would be that he would have to resign from the CVESD board. But I'm saddened by the thought that LAUSD might not be able to find someone better. On the other hand, perhaps Judd is exactly what they want. After all, they have a reputation to live up to: a graduation rate for Latino males below 30%. For that, you need someone who likes to make life miserable for those who are different from himself.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

CVESD tries to keep Castle Park Elementary parents off-balance

On May 27, 2008 Castle Park Elementary parents spoke of their frustration with CVESD's plans to lay off low seniority teachers while protecting hostile veteran teachers who were causing problems for children.

I listened as two different groups of parents announced concern to district represenative Leonard Hernandez. (Each of five tables in the Castle Park auditorium served approximately ten parents who formed a group; one member of each group announced the group's conclusions.)

I wondered why it was that Dr. Leonard Hernandez kept listening to these worries without telling parents the truth: the layoffs had been ruled out 5 days earlier.

I had read the news in Voice of San Diego:

"Chula Vista Teachers Saved"
May 22, 2008
"Chula Vista Elementary School District plans to cancel layoffs of all 274 educators who were slated to be terminated due to state budget cuts...the district faces a $7.5 million cut -- $3.5 million smaller than originally expected, said district spokesman Anthony Millican."

I began to wonder if the pink slips were a way to intimidate teachers and take parents' minds off their other concerns about school performance in Chula Vista.

I raised my hand and told Dr. Hernandez that the parents apparently didn't know that the pink slips were a thing of the past.

Hernandez immediately developed an urge to share the good news with the crowd. The parents applauded vigorously.

I wonder what the district won't do to keep parents from knowing what is really going on at some schools?

On May 30, 2008 another interesting article appeared in Voice of San Diego. Emily Alpert wrote about one teacher who had already accepted a job in the technology sector before his layoff was reversed.

People who can get better jobs are perhaps not the teachers we want to lose. I think we need a two-tiered teacher work force, master teachers and regular teachers. The master teachers should have more responsibility and be better paid, and not be among the first to be laid off.

Quotes from VOSD article:

..."It's a crazy way of doing business," said Anthony Millican, spokesman for the Chula Vista Elementary School District, which cancelled 274 planned layoffs for classroom teachers, but is still planning to slash more than 140 other positions. Its budget gap narrowed somewhat, from $11 million to $7.5 million, based on Schwarzenegger's revision...

Chula Vista Elementary School District spent about $40,000 on substitute teachers during a two-day hearing, said Millican. Like San Diego Unified, its legal costs have not yet been totaled. The school district hired the firm Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo, whose partners and senior associates charge $210 an hour.

Dr. Leonard Hernandez continues CVESD's policy of hiding Castle Park Elementary secrets

On May 27, 2008 Dr. Leonard Hernandez from the CVESD office asked a group of about fifty Castle Park Elementary parents what kind of person they wanted as their twelfth principal in under fifteen years, and then told them that the district would make a decision within about two weeks.

He told parents he didn't want to discuss why yet another principal is leaving Castle Park.

He also didn't want to discuss the group of teachers that holds power at the school. Of the five teachers that the district transferred from the school in 2004, one has returned (Nikki Perez), and others exert great influence from outside the school, particularly from the teachers union office (Chula Vista Educators).

The teachers who control the school call themselves the "Castle Park Family," and they have been able to call the shots at the district office for seven years now.

After the district and its lawyers (Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz) made the serious mistake in 2001 of covering up crimes committed by some of these teachers, the district ended up paying $100,000s of dollars to the lawyers.

Then the district found, to its surprise, that the teachers were not grateful at all. Instead, the teachers were determined to keep calling the shots, making it impossible for the district to transfer trouble-making teachers out of Castle Park Elementary.

I believe that Castle Park Elementary (which I attended in the fifties, and worked at from 1997-2001) will never return to normal function until the district engages in some open and honest discussion, modeled on South Africa's "truth and reconciliation" committees.

The district and Castle Park Elementary teachers should quit hiding the crimes and other wrongdoing, say they're sorry for the harm done, and start some honest discussions about human decency and appropriate professional behavior for teachers. Then instead of worrying about how to keep their secrets hidden (as Dr. Leonard Hernandez demanded at the meeting), they could put all that energy into helping children become healthy, strong, honest, law-abiding, well-educated citizens.

Felicia Starr, former school board candidate, involved once again in Castle Park Elementary principal attack

Felicia Starr (in pink sweatshirt), former CVESD board candidate, Chula Vista ethics committee member, Castle Park Elementary PTA president and site council chairperson who worked closely with Kim Simmons to attack the previous principal Ollie Matos in 2004, showed up at the meeting on May 27, 2008 at which parents discussed the traits they wished to find in their next principal.

Many of the approximately 50 parents at the meeting told district representative Dr. Leonard Hernandez that they want someone just like Carlos Ulloa, the current principal (who will be leaving next month).

But Felicia Starr and the "Castle Park Family" (a group of teachers and union honchos who have chewed up and spit out one principal after another for the past fifteen years, and forced many excellent teachers to leave, as well) made it impossible for Carlos Ulloa to stay.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Cheryl Cox has to keep CVESD's secrets for 18 more years to beat this record

I really thought that Cheryl Cox, Pamela Smith and Bertha Lopez, board members of Chula Vista Elementary School District, would do the right thing in my case. I didn't expect much from Patrick "Pat" Judd and Larry Cunningham. But I was wrong. The three women were as bad as the men. They all paid $100,000s of taxpayer money to Stutz, Artiano Shinoff & Holtz to cover up wrongdoing at Castle Park Elementary. They knew that this required intimidating witnesses and pressuring employees to commit perjury.

All I lost was a job--at a sick school. I've watched as my fellow teachers have become more ill over the past seven years. I was not the only one harmed. The teachers who told falsehoods under oath, and the teachers who were silent, were harmed, too. But the kids were hurt even more.

Alton Logan (story below) was damaged by the same kind of people who damaged Castle Park Elementary. People who present false testimony to a court, and tell the public, as Cheryl Cox did, that their life is "an open book." The truth is 180 degrees to the contrary.

If I had been in the shoes of these two lawyers who kept the secret of Alton Logan's innocence, I believe I would have come forward with the truth, and risked being disbarred. But then, I'm not a lawyer. I think 90% of lawyers have lost their sense of right and wrong, which is why our justice system so frequently helps the guilty and punishes the innocent.

26-Year Secret Kept Innocent Man In Prison
May 25, 2008
60 Minutes (CBS)
Lawyers Keep 26-Year Secret

...This is a story about an innocent man who languished in prison for 26 years while two attorneys who knew he was innocent stayed silent...

Alton Logan was convicted of killing a security guard at a McDonald's in Chicago in 1982. Police arrested him after a tip and got three eyewitnesses to identify him. Logan, his mother and brother all testified he was at home asleep when the murder occurred. But a jury found him guilty of first degree murder...

Alton Logan's story cuts to the core of America's justice system.

Simon met Alton Logan in prison, where he's spent almost half of his life.

Asked if he still counts the months and days, Logan told Simon, "There’s no need to count the months and the days. Just count the years."

Logan said that during the first five or six years he was "consumed" by anger. "Then I come to the realization that 'Why be angry over something you can't control?'"

Logan, who maintains he didn't commit the murder, thought they were "crazy" when he was arrested for the crime.

Attorneys Dale Coventry and Jamie Kunz knew Logan had good reason to think that, because they knew he was innocent. And they knew that because their client, Andrew Wilson, who they were defending for killing two policemen, confessed to them that he had also killed the security guard at McDonald's - the crime Logan was charged with.

"We got information that Wilson was the guy and not Alton Logan. So we went over to the jail immediately almost and said, 'Is that true? Was that you?' And he said, 'Yep it was me,'" Kunz recalled.

"He just about hugged himself and smiled. I mean he was kind of gleeful about it...

"How did you interpret that response?" Simon asked.

"That it was true and that he was tickled pink," Kunz said.

"He was pleased that the wrong guy had been charged...

"Well, ...we have to maintain client confidentiality, just as a priest would or a doctor would...

Asked if they contemplated doing something about it, Coventry told Simon, "We wrote out an affidavit. We made an affidavit that we had gotten information through privileged sources, that Alton Logan was not in fact guilty of killing the officer, that in fact somebody else did it..."

"But the minute he was not sentenced to death, the minute he was sentenced to life in prison, you decided to do nothing?" Simon asked.

"Yes," Kunz said. "I can't explain it. I don't know why that made the difference but I know it did."

"There is no difference between life in prison and a death penalty. None whatsoever. Both are a sentence of death," Logan told Simon...

(CBS) "What did you do to see if there might be some loophole to get everyone out of this fix?" Simon asked the attorneys.

"I researched the ethics of attorney-client privilege as much as I could. I contacted people who are involved in making those determinations. I know Jamie did the same thing," Coventry said.

"I could not figure out a way, and still cannot figure out a way, how we could have done anything to help Alton Logan that would not have put Andrew Wilson in jeopardy of another capital case," Kunz added.

"Couldn’t you have leaked it to somebody? To a reporter, to an administrator, to the governor, to somebody?" Simon asked.

"The only thing we could have leaked is that Andrew Wilson confessed to us. And how could we leak that to anybody without putting him in jeopardy?" Kunz replied. "It may cause us to lose some sleep. But, but I lose more sleep if I put Andrew Wilson’s neck in the in the noose."

"He was guilty and Logan was not. So, yes his head should be in the noose. And Logan should go free. It's perfectly obvious to somebody who isn’t a lawyer," Simon pointed out. "Andrew Wilson was guilty, was he not?"

"Yes. And that's up to the system to decide. It's not up to me as his lawyer to decide that he was guilty and so he should be punished and Logan should go free," Kunz said.

"Do you think you might have been disbarred for doing that, for violating attorney-client privilege?" Simon asked.

"I don't think I considered that as much as I considered my responsibility to my client. I was very concerned to protect him," Coventry explained.

"But here is a case where two men, you two were caught up in this bind. And chose to let a man rot away in jail," Simon remarked.

"In terms of my conscience, my conscience is that I did the right thing. Do I feel bad about Logan? Absolutely I feel bad about Logan," Coventry admitted.

The attorneys say they were so tormented over Logan's imprisonment that they convinced Wilson to let them reveal that Wilson was the real killer after Wilson's death. Late last year, Wilson died. The two attorneys finally took their affidavit out of the lockbox, and they called Logan's lawyer, pubic defender Harold Winston.

Winston had already been trying to get Logan a new trial. He'd found two eyewitnesses who swore Logan was not the killer. Now, with Kunz and Coventry's affidavit, he thinks Logan will finally go free.

[Blogger's note: From what I've seen and read over the years, prosecutors hate to admit they've prosecuted an innocent person. More often than not, they prefer to let the innocent rot in jail.]

"...Everything that was dear to me is gone," Logan, who missed his mother's funeral, told Simon.

His brothers Eugene and Tony told 60 Minutes they've shared Alton's pain, and they always knew that he was no killer. "My brother ain’t got the nature to do nothin' like that in his soul. He ain’t gonna take nobody else's life. We weren't raised like that," Tony said.

"Your brother is 54 now. Can he start again at the age of 54?" Simon asked...

But Alton Logan is still behind bars. "They are quick to convict but they are slow to correct they mistakes," he said...

Cheryl Cox's prosecutor pal Bonnie Dumanis is one of the prosecutors Alton Logan was talking about when he said they are slow to correct mistakes:

Marine Wife Murder Case Still Active
Cox Communications

(San Diego, CA) -- A judge ruled he still has the authority to completely dismiss the case of Cynthia Sommer who was found guilty of killing her husband and spent a few years in jail, but later had the charges dismissed "without Prejudice". Judge John Einhorn says he may dismiss the case "with prejudice" which means the case could not be re filed, "without" means the prosecution could re file murder charges against Sommers who was alleged to have poisoned her husband in 2002.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Chula Vista Teachers Saved

Chula Vista teachers have been saved from Arnold Schwarzenegger's budget cuts. But who will save them from their union, Chula Vista Educators?

Voice of San Diego
Thursday, May 22 2008

Chula Vista Elementary School District plans to cancel layoffs of all 274 educators who were slated to be terminated due to state budget cuts. Under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's revised budget proposal, the district faces a $7.5 million cut -- $3.5 million smaller than originally expected, said district spokesman Anthony Millican...
There are no current plans to reverse layoffs for other employees, he said...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Ethics Complaint Forbidden Against CVE President

Why is the root of Chula Vista Educators' constant problems? Possibly the main cause of strife is the result of CTA lawyers helping CVE leaders to stifle complaints.

CTA lawyers help the presidents and executive directors of local affiliates to silence complaints--in Long Beach and Chula Vista, and in other school districts in California.

When the CTA-chosen executive director of the Teachers Association of Long Beach, Scott McVarish, misused funds in 2007, CTA wouldn't let the TALB board of directors fire him. Instead, CTA paid for a lawyer to defend him when he slandered one of the directors.

Finally CTA realized too much money was being lost, but instead of turning over power to the directors, it took over the union itself and gave control to ex-CTA president Barbara Kerr.

The directors have filed suit to get their union back.

This all familiar to those of us who know about the actions of Barbara Kerr and CTA head counsel Beverly Tucker in Chula Vista Elementary School District.

Tim O'Neill the executive director chosen by CTA for South County Teachers United (CTA), informed Chula Vista Educators member Maura Larkins in December 2002 that she was forbidden from making a complaint to her union affiliate Board of Directors or Representative Council about unethical behavior on the part of the president. Why was she forbidden? Because president Gina Boyd herself refused to allow a complaint to be made about her.

You can't expect much in the way of ethics from an organization like this.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

An open letter to CTA head counsel Beverly Tucker's sidekick at the CTA Santa Fe Springs legal office

Hi Mike:
I just noticed that someone hacked my CTA webpage that had the quote of you saying that you and the rest of the public don't care if my due process rights were violated.

You shouldn't be any more ashamed of your attitude than Beverly Tucker or Carolyn Doggett or the officers of CTA should be ashamed of their attitudes. I hope they aren't making you feel bad about it. They should be nothing but grateful to you for doing what they paid you to do.

Ironically, your hostility was actually a measure of your humanity.

You couldn't have done the job that you were assigned to do if you hadn't dehumanized me. You had to believe that I didn't deserve the protection of the law or my union. You had to believe this, or it would have been impossible for you to help your clients get away with their multiple crimes against me. So hold your head up high when you are in the presence of CTA bigwigs--or 90% of lawyers. You might, however, want to bow your head in the presence of children.

Maura Larkins

P.S. You shouldn't be any more ashamed than Chula Vista Educators (CVE) officers Gina Boyd, Tim O'Neill, Jim Groth, or Peggie (Peg) Myers.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Greg Cox fails to address question of how the Steve Castaneda case was initiated--and why the investigation of Cheryl Cox wasn't.

Bob Castaneda, the brother of Chula Vista Councilman Steve Castaneda, raised important questions about the two prosecutions carried out by the San Diego District Attorney's Public Integrity Unit.

Bonnie Dumanis appointed Peter O'Toole to bring in two political opponents of Chula Vista mayor Cheryl Cox for questioning. Both of them were charged with lying during these odd investigations. How did these investigations get initiated? Why were two men prosecuted for felony perjury even though the investigations uncovered no crimes?

Why has a complaint about Cheryl Cox and her agents at Chula Vista Elementary School District been ignored by this "Public Integrity Unit"?

Supervisor Greg Cox has written a letter that does absolutely nothing to answer the questions that have been raised. Of course Cox protests that he has done nothing wrong. But how will he restore the credibility of the District Attorney's office? He makes no effort to do so.

My website has a comparison of the letters by Bob Castaneda and Greg Cox.

The question remains: was the PIU tipster a friend of Cheryl and Greg Cox?

The answer seems sort of obvious, doesn't it?

Monday, May 05, 2008

Chula Vista Educators is no longer missing in action

Chula Vista Educators has long been oddly silent on the Internet. But that has changed. CVE has unveiled a new website at

Apparently, secrecy is a thing of the past for CVE president Peg Myers and her loyal supporters Jim Groth, longtime accomplice Joyce Abrams, the perennially faithful Monica Sorenson, and the rest.

They have published the results of the last election, revealing exactly how many people voted, and who got the votes. NO, JUST KIDDING ABOUT THIS LAST BIT.

But seriously, I will continue to post news on this blog and on this website.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Otay Elementary is off the watchlist!

Principal reveals steps to success
By David Berlin
May 1, 2008
San Diego Union Tribune

This year, Otay Elementary was one of three schools in Chula Vista to come off the "program improvement" list, a watch list for schools that fail to meet federal testing requirements two years in a row.

Otay Elementary School Principal Francisco Velasco is all about the numbers...

To Velasco, the numbers represent his students and the charts show exactly how the school in southwest Chula Vista is making the grade...

Otay Elementary also received a California Association for Bilingual Education award for excellence...
Seventy percent of students at Otay speak another language at home and are learning English at school.

“It's a huge challenge because we start testing in second grade and those kids will take the test in English,” Velasco said.

“So you have to provide some sort of transition program that fast-tracks English. Studies have shown that it takes five, six, seven years to be able to acquire that language and to be able to really function at a good level. But we don't have that much time.”

...Every hour of every school day at Otay Elementary is spent teaching basic English and other skills like reading and math. That means no music class, no art class and no gym class, which instead are offered as after-school clubs.