Sunday, May 30, 2010

An offer to Robin Donlan and Peg Myers

Dear Robin and Peg,
I think we should have a truth and reconciliation meeting. I believe that the truth about what happened at Castle Park Elementary will continue to extend its reach (skeletons have a habit of falling out of closets), so why not let the district and the teachers union quit spending money covering it up, and just deal with it openly and honestly? Everyone would be happier, I believe.
Maura Larkins

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cheryl Cox's supporters will do just about anything to win, it seems; Steve Castaneda cleared of charges

Castaneda cleared of charges
Campaign finance complaints against Chula Vista councilman tossed
By Tanya Sierra
May 25, 2010

CHULA VISTA — An independent investigation into claims that Chula Vista City Councilman Steve Castaneda violated campaign financing laws dating back six years has found the complaints lacked merit and were politically motivated.

Julia Sylvia, the Los Angeles attorney looking into the matter, deemed the charges against Castaneda “unsubstantiated innuendo, arguments and allegations.”

Angel T. Castillo, a Chula Vista resident who once served on a homeowners association board with Castaneda, filed complaints in November and December alleging multiple campaign violations in 2004, 2006 and 2008. He claimed Castaneda should be prosecuted and forced to pay $472,679 in fines.

Castillo, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, alleged that Castaneda misreported campaign expenses in 2004; violated personal financing limits in 2005; and did not declare postelection expenses in 2006. The allegations also state that contributions from a former business partner exceeded what is allowed under campaign laws.

Castaneda, who is running for mayor in the June primary, said in a City Hall news conference that he knew he would be cleared. He charged Castillo with regurgitating issues that had been settled.

Silva agreed.

“A majority of the allegations in the complaint have been thoroughly investigated by other public agencies; namely the Fair Political Practices Commission,” she wrote. “The FPPC has concluded that there is no conflict of interest and there is not violation of the Political Reform Act by the candidate.”...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Good news for 160 Chula Vista teachers: they're not going to be fired after all !

KPBS reporter Ana Tintocalis

I'm guessing that in the story below Ana Tintocalis meant to say that Jim Groth is on leave from his job as a teacher in CVESD. In fact, Mr. Groth works full time for the teachers union. But perhaps he didn't make this clear to Ms. Tintocalis.

Chula Vista Teachers Keep Jobs But Others Not So Lucky
By Ana Tintocalis
May 19, 2010

Chula Vista Elementary School District officials told about 160 of its teachers they were out of a job at the end of the school year. But school officials rescinded all those pink slips on Monday.

School officials say the district's budget improved based on the Governor's May Revise released last week.

Jim Groth is with the California Teachers Association. He's also a teacher in Chula Vista.

"Obviously it's good news for the students of Chula Vista because they will be having their teachers return to the classroom. And that's what we're all about." Groth said.

But other teachers in San Diego County will get official pink slips this month. They were first notified that they could lose their jobs in March.

The California Teachers Association says Oceanside Unified is laying off 60 teachers. The Sweetwater Union High School District in the South Bay will layoff about 30 teachers. And San Ysidro will layoff more than 20 teachers.

Hundreds of temporary teachers around the county will not get their contracts renewed. The CTA reports 112 temporary teachers in the San Diego Unified District will not return.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Who destroyed Castle Park Elementary? It was a cooperative effort by the district and the teachers union

I was shocked and disappointed to learn that the school I attended as a child and worked at as an adult has gone down hill so rapidly since I left it in 2001.

Castle Park Elementary has the lowest API score in Chula Vista Elementary School District. This wasn't always the case.

When I was there, scores were well above the bottom despite the low socio-economic level of the neighborhood. Then current Chula Vista Educators president Peg Myers began clawing her way up the ladder to power with the help of a group of teachers that had been sowing discord before Peg arrived. Peg got lots of help from Jim Groth, who is now a statewide CTA director, and Beverly Tucker, the head legal counsel of California Teachers Association.

Castle Park Elementary Chula Vista Elementary 754

A small group of teachers chewed up and spit out a long string of principals and good teachers. The goal was power for their group, not education for children. The district supported Robin Donlan, Karen Snyder, Peg Snyder and their associates until it realized in 2004 that the teachers were out of control. Then the district ended up hiring lawyers to defend itself against the teachers that it had spent $100,000s of tax dollars defending. Shame on Larry Cunningham and Pamela Smith for knowingly defending teachers who had committed crimes.

I notice that the enrollment at Castle Park Elementary has gone down to 312. It appears that everyone who is able to do so finds another school to go to.

The school had 11 principals in 11 years before the current principal was asked to try to make some sense out of the wreckage. I suggest a Truth and Reconciliation Committee for the school--and the district. Problems need to be fixed, not hidden, as Lowell Billings has done.

Were teachers "blindly-led"?

Here's a quote from an AOL News article about the Tonya Craft case:
"It's divided the community between those who are intelligent and can think for themselves and those who are blindly led," local resident Harmony Lefler told AOL News. "It's horrible to say that, but it is the truth."


'Bright flight' fight
Castle Park Middle School students get help from teachers to stay there
By Chris Moran
March 3, 2007

Smart kids grow up in Chula Vista's Castle Park area, attend the neighborhood elementary schools and then leave for other parts of town for seventh grade.

This academic diaspora is so persistent and troubling that Sweetwater Union High School District educators have given it a name: “bright flight.”

A federal law intended to help low-scoring schools such as Castle Park Middle School appears to have accelerated the brain drain. The No Child Left Behind Act gives parents the option to send their children to higher-scoring schools when their neighborhood school doesn't make the grade.

This school year, the families of 168 students used No Child Left Behind to leave Castle Park Middle School. That coincides with a plunge in the number of students in the school's advanced academic program. There are about one-third fewer seventh-graders in the school's fledgling International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme than there were last year...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Chula Vista cuts nearly 160 elementary teachers

The teachers being laid off at CVESD are not the least-capable teachers. Why not? Because neither the union nor the administration wants to evaluate teachers effectively, which would be the first step in such an endeavor. Shame on the board and Peg Myers, president of Chula Vista Educators for refusing to allow accurate evaluations of teachers' ability and performance.

Chula Vista cuts nearly 160 elementary teachers
FOX 5 San Diego
May 12, 2010

The Chula Vista Elementary School District decided Tuesday night to send pink slips to nearly 160 teachers and will cut pay for the remaining teachers by 3 percent to deal with a $15.2 million budget deficit.

In March, the district issued 422 preliminary pink slips to faculty members across the district. Later, that number was reduced to 218. Tuesday's decision reduced the number of job cuts again. District officials said they must cut positions to balance the budget.

"We're faced with 160 now, that's a 160 too many," said Anthony Millican, a spokesperson for Chula Vista Elementary School District. "However we're put in this position because of the state's budget process."

The people expected to be let go in June are Kindergarten through 6th grade teachers, along with 10 school psychologists and 10 assistant principals.

Peg Myers, the Chula Vista Educators President, asked the board Tuesday night to reconsider saving the remaining 218 pink slipped positions.

"By May 15, they have to have the final layoff notices handed out to the teachers," said Myers.

These jobs may be saved if the district receives more than $7 million in federal stimulus funds...

Friday, May 07, 2010

Top Chula Vista cop, partner in dispute; Police chief co-owns security company

Somebody's being unreasonable here, and it's hard to know who it is. Perhaps Art Moreno figured a huge windfall had ended up in his lap when Bejarano was chosen as Chula Vista's top cop. The new job means Bejarano must give up the company. Bejarano says either his partner pays for his half or the company should be dissolved.

Top Chula Vista cop, partner in dispute

Police chief co-owns security company
By Tanya Sierra
May 7, 2010

In addition to being Chula Vista’s police chief, where he earns an annual salary of $187,000, David Bejarano is involved in a number of other activities. Among them:

• Chula Vista Elementary School District trustee

• Co-owner of Presidential Security Services

• Vibra Bank board member

• South Bay Community Services board member

• Consultant for personal injury law firm Tatro & Zamoyski

CHULA VISTA — A business partner has accused Chula Vista Police Chief David Bejarano of writing fraudulent checks on the private security firm’s account, an allegation that the city forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office.

City policy prohibits police officers from owning or working for private security firms in Chula Vista, and Bejarano’s efforts to dissociate himself from Chula Vista-based Presidential Security are at the root of the business partners’ dispute.

Bejarano co-owns Presidential Security Services with former Donovan State Prison guard Art Moreno. Bejarano stepped down as president of the company in August when he became police chief. About that time, he also curtailed his duties at the firm and wanted his name removed from advertising, marketing and other public material...

Bejarano’s lawyer, Joseph Casas, said the chief is the victim of a smear campaign. He added that his client’s name was removed from bank records without proper authority...

The corporation’s board of directors is composed of Moreno and his wife, Colleen, and Bejarano and his wife, Esperanza.

Bejarano, a former San Diego police chief, has filed suit in San Diego Superior Court to disband the company. In the suit, Bejarano alleges that Moreno and his wife “repeatedly breached their fiduciary duties and wrongfully acted in their own self-interest.”...

Presidential continues to pay David Bejarano a salary. Last year, he earned $73,820 with the firm and charged about $15,000 on a company credit card, Moreno said.

City Attorney Bart Miesfeld said as long as Bejarano is trying to cut his ties with the company, and as long as his responsibilities there do not interfere with his duties as police chief, he is not violating city policy that prohibits a police officer from working for or having a financial interest in a private police agency in the city.

Simon Mayeski, a member of California Common Cause’s San Diego chapter, questioned that assessment.

“I wonder why the city attorney is trying to write around this regulation, which sounds like a reasonable and necessary restriction,” Mayeski said. “It opens up way too many questions and puts the chief in a less-than-perfect position going about his business.”

Common Cause is a nonprofit that says it strives for an “open, honest and accountable government.”

Presidential Security has a number of contracts to provide security guards for Chula Vista businesses, including two shelters run by South Bay Community Services, where Bejarano serves as a board member.

City Councilmen Rudy Ramirez and Steve Castaneda said Thursday that Bejarano should have left Presidential Security by now.

“There should have been a specific timeline in which he had to divest himself from that business,” Castaneda said.

Mayor Cheryl Cox said she backs Sandoval and Miesfeld.

“I’m confident that the city manager and city attorney have done their due diligence,” she said.

[Due diligence? Does Cheryl Cox have any idea what that means? When she was a CVESD trustee, she helped make sure that no investigation was ever done regarding a 2001 report by two teachers that they believed there might be a mass shooting at Castle Park Elementary. At the same time, the district specifically claimed it had done its due diligence.]

Meanwhile, the future of Presidential Security and its 40 employees remains unclear.

After Bejarano was hired as police chief, he suggested to Moreno that they divide the company, according to an September e-mail exchange provided by Moreno.

“It can be done quickly, with minimal costs and you and your family can operate your share any way you want and my wife will operate our share,” Bejarano wrote to Moreno in a Sept. 28 e-mail.

Moreno said Bejarano should sell his interest in the company.

“Our last offer to him was $50,000, and we never heard back from him,” Moreno said.

Casas, Bejarano’s attorney, said Moreno has not made a serious offer.

“Mr. Moreno can put an offer on the table to us, which he has yet to do in any meaningful way,” Casas said.

A court date on Bejarano’s suit to disband the company has not been set.