Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sweetwater district employee who lost in court files for bankruptcy

The district's consulting firm found no evidence that Bertha Lopez "acted inappropriately." But Bertha Lopez was indicted in December 2011 for other illegal actions at Sweetwater Union High School District. Perhaps Lemons-Shivers allowed herself a small smile when that happened, but it can't have made Dan Shinoff very happy.

Sweetwater district employee who lost in court files for bankruptcy
By Ashly McGlone
April 23, 2011

CHULA VISTA — Following a loss in court against the Sweetwater Union High School District and a trustee, district administrator Charlene Lemons-Shivers has filed for bankruptcy.

A 16-year district employee and Del Mar resident, Lemons-Shivers claimed $562,800 in assets and $873,300 in liabilities to 18 creditors, including attorney Dan Shinoff, who represented the district and trustee Bertha Lopez as defendants in the lawsuit.

Shinoff was seeking $21,000 in attorney fees and some $5,000 is owed to Lemon-Shivers’ attorney, Josh Gruenberg, according to the filing.

A judgment in the lawsuit was issued in January in favor of the district and Lopez. Lemons-Shivers filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy March 19.

While serving as director of alternate education, Lemons-Shivers filed the lawsuit July 8 alleging she suffered retaliation, civil harassment and emotional distress after reporting a subordinate was working unapproved overtime. Lemons-Shivers alleged Lopez was a friend of the employee and retaliated against her by visiting the alternative education department unannounced and asking pointed questions. Lopez said she was doing her job as a board member.

More than $83,000 was spent by the district on the case, with $40,000 spent on a consultant for an investigation and report on the matter. The report, by Puente Consulting, concluded there was no evidence Lopez acted inappropriately or that she knew the employee in question. It also said Lopez asked questions about the alternative education program months before the overtime issue arose.

According to the bankruptcy filing, Lemons-Shivers listed a leased 2008 Mercedez Benz CLK currently worth a reported $21,255 as both an asset and a liability. The monthly payment is $477.

Her largest monthly expenditure is $3,577 for the mortgage on a rental home in Chula Vista valued at $600,000, followed by the cost of her son’s private school.

Her expenditures reportedly exceed her income by $2,000 a month.

She claimed $127,600 in annual earnings in her current post as director of education technology supervising seven people...

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Some 300 nonteaching employees in Chula Vista schools will get layoff notices

Some 300 nonteaching employees in Chula Vista schools will get layoff notices
By Ashly McGlone
April 6, 2011

About 70 nonteaching staff in the Chula Vista Elementary School District rallied outside of the district office before Tuesday night's board meeting. Trustees voted unanimously to issue 300 layoff notices to nonteaching employees later that night.

CHULA VISTA — More than a quarter of the nonteaching staff in the Chula Vista Elementary School District will soon receive layoff notices.

Citing state budget problems, trustees voted unanimously Tuesday night to issue about 300 layoff notices to nonteaching employees in the district.

Some 1,100 bus drivers, instructional assistants, custodians, librarians and other nonteaching workers are represented by the Chula Vista Classified Employees Organization. About 70 rallied outside of the district offices before Tuesday night’s meeting wearing shirts that read, “Classified Cuts Hurt Kids Too!”

Among the hardest hit were support services to special-needs students and the district’s state-run preschool program.

More than 170 special needs-related positions will receive layoff notices, including about 45 special education instructional assistants, 96 bus attendants, who accompany students with severe disabilities on their way to and from school, and 30 student attendants who work with special needs students.

More than 34 preschool instructional assistants also will receive notices, putting the programs in jeopardy, according to Sandra Villegas-Zuniga, assistant superintendent of human resources.

At least 12 English-language learner instructional assistants also will receive notices.

“It’s a blow for all of us and it will affect the services we give for our kids at the school site as well as the district office because cuts were from every level in this organization so it’s hard,” Superintendent Francisco Escobedo said.

“There will be less support for (English-language learners and special-needs students) and those specific target groups so we will have to figure out ways to enhance our efficiencies, but it becomes very difficult to do that with less people.”

The three-year contract for nonteaching staff expires this year, but the parties have yet to meet at the bargaining table to negotiate a new contract.

“The unanimous vote was no surprise and now we wait for negotiations and sit down and negotiate the effects of the layoffs,” said Ernie Gutierrez, president of the Chula Vista Classified Employees Organization.

The district estimates that it would face a $14 million deficit in its $193 million budget under the worst-case funding scenario. Under a best-case scenario, the district would face a $6 million shortfall, a deficit it could cover with its $31 million reserve account. It did not offer specifics on how much money the layoffs would save.

Nonteaching staff must be notified of potential layoffs 45 days before beginning the next school year, according to district spokesman Anthony Millican.

School ends June 2. The new school year begins July 20. Some 300 teachers of the district’s 1,400 teachers received layoff notices in March.