Saturday, December 22, 2012

The defamation lawsuit by CVESD lawyers Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz continues--and it keeps getting more interesting

Judge Judith Hayes, CVESD lawyers and the US Constitution

See the June 21, 2012 court transcript. Amazing!

See July 27, 2012 hearing transcript in Stutz v. Larkins.

See all posts regarding Stutz v. Larkins.

Judge Judith Hayes

Judith Hayes, the judge in Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz' defamation lawsuit against this blogger, seems to have no interest at all in being guided by the August 5,2012 decision of the Court of Appeal in the case.

She was told that her Dec. 11, 2009 injunction was "exceedingly broad" and a violation of the Constitution. So what did she do? She simply took a narrower injunction and INTERPRETED in a way that functions exactly like the illegal injunction. Court transcripts show that she told me she wasn't going to give me permission to say "anything"!

On July 27, 2012, she struck my Answer that was filed in 2007.

I objected, as can be seen in the court transcript of the July 27 hearing.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Were CVESD and Chula Vista Educators negligent in Kinloch child molestation case?

It seems that CVESD and California Teachers Association were more interested in protecting powerful teachers than in conducting serious investigations of extremely urgent allegations. When a teacher was accused of being likely to "come to school and shoot everybody," the district never did an investigation, and the teachers union never insisted on an investigation.

I recall listening to former Chula Vista Educators grievance chair Frank Luzzaro a few years ago complaining that the district had placed a male teacher on administrative leave due to unproven allegations of child abuse.

John Raymond Kinloch might been that teacher--unless perhaps there were TWO suspected child molesters at CVESD at the same time!

It seems to me that it was around 2003 or 2004, but the District Attorney's office says a child at Feaster was molested in 2004 or 2005. It seems we're both zeroing in on the same time period. Obviously, the school district knows exactly when the teacher was placed on administrative leave, and it knows if the teacher was John Raymond Kinloch.


Superintendent Lowell Billings, Asst. Supt. for Human Resources Richard Werlin, and Asst. Supt. Dennis Doyle were in charge when the critical events occurred in the Kinloch case and in other cases in CVESD covered-up wrongful actions and falsified and concealed various documents.

Asst. Supt. Maria Guasp and Superintendent Libia Gil seemed to rubber-stamp whatever the three men decided on. Libia Gil chose covering-up events rather than investigating serious allegations.

Rick Werlin claimed to have "lost" all his notes about a teacher who was accused of being likely to come to school and "shoot everybody." CVESD's lawyer, Dan Shinoff, says he lost about half of the documents he collected at Castle Park Elementary. He lost a few pages here and a few pages there from a single set of about 87 documents. Here are some of the documents that were produced. Those missing pages about a possible mass shooting at Castle Park Elementary would be very interesting to see!

Chula Vista Educators, particularly Jim Groth, who is now on the Board of Directors of CTA, also seemed to support district decisions, especially when the goal was to conceal crimes by teachers who were favored by the administration. (Of course, it was different when one of Jim's pals got in trouble. CVE paid $17,000 in legal fees to contest a district decision to dock Frank Luzzaro one day's pay.)

A 1998 San Diego Reader story revealed Kinloch's connection to an English child pornographer, and Kinloch's admitted attraction to young boys.

An important part of this picture is the fact that California Teachers Association is quite reliable in protecting child molesters such as Albert Truitt.

Obviously, Mr. Kinloch was not fired. CVESD and CVE have a bad habit of protecting the guilty. Perhaps CVESD and CVE don't like effective investigations because facts might interfere with their political goals.


At the same time that it flubbed the Kinloch investigation, CVESD administrators, with the approval of CVE's Jim Groth and other CVE officials, flat-out refused to investigate anonymous allegations against another teacher. Depositions later proved that the allegations against the "dangerous" teacher were false, but that teacher had already been fired. Depositions also proved that teachers who made the anonymous accusations were covering up their own crimes!


The district then realized too late that the accusers, who called themselves "The Castle Park Family," had become out of control. The "Castle Park Five" were prominent members of the Family. The Family felt that it, not the administration, should be in charge. They can't be blamed for thinking this since they had successfully demanded that CTA and the district help them by violating longstanding policies as well as the law, to defend Family members in court. The district spent $100,000s of taxpayer dollars on lawyers to conceal the truth.

Coincidentally, both Frank Luzzaro and his wife work for the Reader, which had profiled John Raymond Kinloch in 1998 as a child pornographer. I have noticed that the Reader avoids delving into problems at CVESD. I have provided information directly to Frank Luzzaro and the Reader, but neither has expressed any interest.

Longtime CVESD board member Pamela Smith
Longtime CVESD board member Larry Cunningham

The school board in 2004 consisted of Pamela Smith, Larry Cunningham, Cheryl Cox, Patrick Judd (who was successfully sued for sexual harassment by a female principal) and Bertha Lopez. All five of these individuals supported the hiring and firing tactics of the administrators named above.

Arraignment for suspect in child porn and molestation case
Dec 06, 2012

CHULA VISTA (CNS) - A South Bay elementary school teacher accused of molesting a student and possessing child pornography to get boys to expose themselves online is scheduled to be arraigned Friday.

John Raymond Kinloch, a first-grade teacher at Wolf Canyon Elementary in Chula Vista, was initially arrested last Friday after agents with the San Diego Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force served a search warrant at his home. He was released on bail that evening.

Authorities began looking into the online activities of Kinloch based on tips received by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said San Diego police sex-crimes Lt. Anastasia Smith.

The investigation allegedly showed that the 41-year-old Kinloch, while posing as a girl on a website called "MeetMe," had persuaded boys to disrobe during live one-on-one webcam interactions, according to Smith.

Kinloch, a San Ysidro resident, was re-arrested Wednesday on suspicion of 11 counts of committing lewd and lascivious acts on a child under age 14 after the alleged victim came forward, according to San Diego police.

The accusations involve sexual contact that allegedly occurred several years ago, when Kinloch was teaching at Feaster Charter School in Chula Vista, Smith said.

The defendant was being held in lieu of $1.15 million bail pending arraignment.

Teacher facing porn charges arrested in molestation
Pauline Repard
Dec. 6, 2012

CHULA VISTA — A Chula Vista elementary school teacher arrested last week on suspicion of child pornography is facing new charges alleging he molested a student several years ago, authorities said Thursday.

John Raymond Kinloch, 41, was jailed Wednesday on 11 counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child under the age of 14, and one count of an attempted lewd and lascivious act on a child age 14 or 15.

His bail is set at $1.1 million, jail records show.

“This is a case many years delayed in reporting,” said San Diego police Lt. Anastasia Smith. “It appears this victim was previously a student of his.”

She said the student attended Feaster Charter School. Kinloch taught there from 2000 to 2009, then transferred to Wolf Canyon Elementary School, where he was teaching first grade, school district officials said.

Kinloch has been placed on administrative leave, district spokesman Anthony Millican said.

“This new case raises the question of whether there are other students involved,” Millican said Thursday.

Kinloch was investigated by the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force for allegedly posing online as a girl and soliciting young boys to send him pictures of themselves naked, Smith said. The task force is a joint effort by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

Federal authorities arrested Kinloch on Friday on suspicion of possessing child pornography, using a minor in an obscene manner and luring a minor for a sexual offense. He was booked into jail, then released on bail. Authorities said earlier in the week that no Chula Vista students were involved in the pornography.

On Wednesday, a former student reported being molested, and Kinloch was arrested about 9 p.m. as he was leaving his South Bay home.

“Our hearts go out to the child,” Chula Vista Superintendent Francisco Escobedo said Thursday in a statement. “The allegations raised in the charges against Kinloch are appalling. For a teacher to betray a child in this manner is very upsetting. We are very dismayed by this.”

School district officials were upset that a federal background check on Kinloch when he was hired failed to turn up his connection to a 1998 child pornography case in England.

Millican said the San Diego Reader published a story in June 1998 that said Kinloch, then a San Diego State University student, went to England to testify in the criminal trial of a college student accused in trafficking in child pornography. That student’s files contained information that led investigators to Kinloch, and he was offered immunity by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego to testify, the Reader reported. He testified during the trial that he was attracted to young boys, the Reader said.

The district is investigating how the past case was not flagged during Kinloch’s background check and plans to work with the state’s Teachers Credentialing Commission on how to improve the process.

Photo: December 13, 2006 , Chula Vista,- Second grade teacher John Kinloch at the Feaster Edison Charter School in Chula Vista. — John Gibbinsng Commission on how to improve the process.

Teacher accused of child porn, molesting a student in court: John Kinloch pleads not guilty 10 News 12/07/2012

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - A South Bay elementary school teacher accused of repeatedly molesting a former student and possessing child pornography to get boys to expose themselves online pleaded not guilty Friday to 20 charges, including 18 counts of child molest.

John Raymond Kinloch, 41, was ordered held on $1.9 million bail.

Kinloch, a first-grade teacher at Wolf Canyon Elementary in Chula Vista, initially was arrested last Friday after agents with the San Diego Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force served a search warrant at his home. He was released on bail that evening.

Authorities began looking into the online activities of Kinloch based on tips received by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, San Diego police sex crimes Lt. Anastasia Smith said...

The accusations involve sexual contact that allegedly occurred when Kinloch was teaching at Feaster Charter School in Chula Vista, Smith said.

Deputy District Attorney Enrique Camarena told reporters that the first alleged molestation happened around 2004 or 2005, when the student was about 8 or 9 years old.

Camarena said the alleged victim, a boy, had a close relationship with Kinloch, both inside and outside the school.

Some of the molestations occurred on school grounds, the prosecutor alleged.

Besides the child molest charges, Kinloch is charged with one count of attempted child molest of a person 14 or 15 years old and one count of possession of child pornography. The named victim is not the subject of the child pornography charge, Camarena said.

Kinloch faces 43 years and six months in prison if convicted.

"When a teacher commits a crime, especially of this nature on school grounds that is about the most extreme violation we can have," Camarena said.

Defense attorney Dan Greene told South Bay Judge Katherine Bacal that Kinloch had no prior record and had a master's degree, without being specific...

The attorney said community members have come forward to praise Kinloch as a great person and educator...

[Maura Larkins comment: I've noticed that people often say that teachers and parents know who the good teachers are. In fact, they don't. Effective evaluations are needed, but many principals don't bother doing observations, and simply rely on school politics to decide who's good and who's bad.] 10News reporter Michael Chen asked, "If he's attracted to young boys, why did he petition to be a teacher?"

Greene answered, "I can't [answer] that for you right now ... It's unfair to rush to judgment before going through due process."

School district officials said they were upset that a federal background check on Kinloch failed to turn up his connection to a child pornography case in England in 1998.

District spokesman Anthony Millican said the San Diego Reader published a story in June 1998 that said Kinloch, then a San Diego State student, testified in the trial of a fellow college student accused in child pornography trafficking.

Kinloch was granted immunity and testified that he was attracted to young boys, the Reader reported...

See also: Darren Chaker, in violation of the conditions of his release from federal prison, stalks Maura Larkins and impersonates Scott McMillan, the lawyer who beat him in the Mateo case. 

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

CVESD hired a teacher profiled in the Reader as a child pornographer

CVESD is still getting fallout from Rick Werlin's years as Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources.

Officials claim to be angry that they did not know in 2000 about John Raymond Kinloch's involvement in a 1998 child pornography case that was described in the San Diego Reader. Kinloch was recently arrested for child pornography.

But the truth is that current Superintendent Francisco Escobedo is pals with Rick Werlin, the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources responsible for hiring Mr. Kinloch, and Maria Guasp, who helped Mr. Werlin implement his policy of concealing the truth about teachers who committed crimes.

When Mr. Werlin was running Human Resources, Board Members Pamela Smith and Larry Cunningham were more than willing to allow Mr. Werlin to ignore the law. Then they managed to quash subpoenas to testify about their actions. They supported a criminal cover-up of the actions of administrators, union leaders and Castle Park teachers.

The district managed to unload Werlin, and when West Contra Costa County asked for information about Werlin, CVESD didn't breathe a word about the $100,000s in legal expenses that Werlin incurred. One wonders how much CVESD officials actually care about children.

CVESD seems to have more than its share of child pornographers. October, a
another CVESD teacher was arrested for child porn.

See all Francisco Escobedo posts.

Chula Vista teacher arrested in child porn case
By Pauline Repard and Susan Shroder
Dec. 5, 2012

...Chula Vista Elementary School District officials are angry that they did not know about the case when they hired John Raymond Kinloch in 2000, spokesman Anthony Millican said.

Kinloch, 41, was taken into custody Friday following an investigation by the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. He was booked into jail on counts of possession of child pornography, using a minor in an obscene manner and luring a minor for a sex offense, according to the jail website.

The charges do not involve students in Kinloch’s class or in the district, Millican said.

He said Kinloch has taught at Wolf Canyon Elementary School since 2009 and was currently teaching first grade. Kinloch previously taught at Feaster Charter School.

He is on administrative leave and will not be on campus while the legal proceedings continue, Millican said.

Millican said the San Diego Reader published a story in June 1998 that said Kinloch, then a San Diego State student, was going to England to testify in the criminal trial of Christopher Wrigley, a college student accused in trafficking in child pornography. Wrigley’s files contained information that led investigators to Kinloch, and he was offered immunity by federal officials in the United States and England to testify, the Reader reported. He testified during the trial that he exchanged pornographic images of young boys with Wrigley, according to the Birmingham Post & Mail, a British newspaper.

Debra McLaren, principal at Wolf Elementary, sent a letter to parents Friday informing them of the arrest...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Vote No on Prop. 32, It's Not What It Seems

Opinion: Vote No on Prop. 32, It's Not What It Seems
October 15, 2012
(Former CVESD teacher and member of the Board of Directors of the California Teachers Association)
Voice of San Diego

There are many kinds of schemes. Some kinds make it onto statewide election ballots and it’s up to voters to see through them and reject the damage they would cause. Proposition 32 on November’s ballot claims to be about campaign finance reform, but it’s really a gross deception financed by wealthy corporate special interests. The rich and powerful donors behind this scheme want to weaken the political voices of working people and the middle class so they can write their own rules. San Diego County voters should ask themselves why leading campaign reform organizations like the League of Women Voters and California Common Cause have come out against this measure.

Nearly every major newspaper in California is against Prop. 32, which they condemn with words like “fraud” and “sham.” The Los Angeles Times urged a no vote, calling it a “deceptive measure” that will have only a “trivial impact on corporate spending” on politics in the state. One professor calls it a “bill of rights for billionaires.”

Disguised as reform, Prop. 32 does nothing to limit the out-of-state business super PACs that are undermining our democracy. Millionaires can give these secretive political action committees unlimited donations, and these kinds of PACs aren’t subject to the same contribution limits as political campaigns themselves. In fact, the Yes on 32 campaign received a $4 million donation from a mysterious out-of-state super PAC linked to the billionaire Koch Brothers.

Prop. 32 doesn’t solve Sacramento’s problems because it exempts many kinds of companies — such as Wall Street investment firms, hedge funds, oil and insurance companies — from its restrictions.

In fact, many of the same companies and other corporate interests that are backing this “Special Exemptions Act” are the same ones that are exempt. And many donors to this fraud own companies that are exempt. How convenient.

This is hardly the balanced reform that proponents claim. It stops corporations and unions from collecting political funds through payroll deductions, but 99 percent of California corporations don’t use payroll deductions for political lobbying – they use their profits. Unions rely solely on these contributions, and union members already have the legal right to opt out of having these funds used for politics.

If our teachers, firefighters, police and nurses can no longer fight for more school and public safety resources, or hospital patient protections, the middle class and our communities will pay the price. Vote no on 32.

Marissa Bejarano takes her dad's CVESD board seat by default; her name will not be on ballot

Marissa Bejarano will take her father's Seat 2 on the CVESD board at the end of this year, continuing the worrisome trend of board members joining the CVESD board without being elected.

Usually board members are appointed, and then they run for election as an incumbent, as Glendora Tremper is doing this year.

I think Russell Coronado in 2008 was the only board member in many years who actually came to the board AFTER an election.

It seems that no one had the nerve to oppose Marissa Bejarano, so she has already won by default. Her name won't even be on the ballot. Did her family's political connections and CVESD connections scare others away?


Will Marissa Bejarano continue her dad's efforts to conceal information?

Marissa's father, David Bejarano, was served a deposition subpoena for Stutz v. Larkins, but he got it quashed. Not only that, as a board member of CVESD, he paid tax dollars to the Plaintiff, Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz, to do the legal work to quash the subpoena!

Of course, all the other CVESD trustees did the same. There is a disturbing unanimity on the CVESD board when it comes to keeping secrets.

I'm wondering if Mr. Bejarano's daughter, Marissa Bejarano, will do the same when she becomes a board member.

Let's hope, however, that nepotism will not become a trend among other board members.

New Board Member Seat 2
Candidates provide background
By Caroline Dipping
October 17, 2012

Age: 33...Married with 19-month-old son.

She is the daughter of Chula Vista Police Chief David Bejarano, who has held Seat 2 since 2007 but did not seek re-election this year.

[Her mother, Esperanza, also worked at the district for many years. Esperanza was listed as an executive secretary for CVESD on her husband's statement of economic interests.]

Marissa Bejarano is unopposed, so she takes over the seat.

Education: Halecrest Elementary in Chula Vista Elementary School District, Bonita Middle and High schools, bachelor’s degree in political science and Spanish from University of San Diego, law degree from University of San Diego.

Work experience: Deputy attorney general, adjunct professor for the Thomas Jefferson School of Law

...I’m not going to be on the ballot. Because no one ran against me, I received notification from the Registrar of Voters that I will be appointed in December. I am honored and committed to serving on the Chula Vista board. I want to serve on the CVESD board because I believe in the importance of a quality education for all students and because I care about our community. I have been a public servant my entire life and as the current board president for a local nonprofit, MANA de San Diego, I understand the difficult times our community is facing economically. I will work hard to ensure that budget cuts stay as far away from the classrooms as possible, and not negatively impact the quality of education to our future leaders.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

San Diego Police Investigate High School Football Team Hazing Incident

San Diego Police Investigate High School Football Team Hazing Incident
OCTOBER 24, 2011

A local high school football game scheduled to be played Friday night was called off after a high school prank that authorities said crossed the line.

According to authorities, at least four Castle Park High School students, including members of the school's football team, are accused of hazing a teammate.

Some students told 10News the alleged incident happened Monday after football practice.

A concerned parent of a Castle Park High student contacted 10News and said a varsity football player was attacked by his own teammates. 10News learned the hazing incident was a sexual assault by students, with a pencil involved.

Castle Park High student Daniella told 10News, "I think that was, like, really rude and unnecessary. I heard he went to the hospital."

The parent said at least four students were suspended for their alleged involvement, but the Sweetwater Union High School District would not confirm the suspensions.

However, Chula Vista police have been contacted to investigate the incident.

Chula Vista Police Department Capt. Gary Wedge said, "All of the individuals who were involved in the incident have been identified. I can't disclose specifics about the nature of the incident because it involves juveniles and a sex crime."

Wedge also told 10News the case is now in the hands of the San Diego County District Attorney's Office.

Meanwhile, many of the alleged victim's peers at Castle Park High expressed outrage and came to his defense.

"Yeah, I heard about it and I just think it's wrong. I mean, how could somebody do that?" said student Alejandro.

Student Jonathan added, "In my opinion, I think it was kind of weird and strange. Why would that be happening at a high school?"

The Sweetwater Union High School District says it is cooperating fully with Chula Vista police.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Fit Teachers Test Themselves at Triathlon
Chula Vista Elementary School District

Six District teachers participated in the recent Chula Vista Challenge-Olympic Distance Triathlon, modeling first-hand the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle. Teachers (pictured L-R)

Shannon Cleator, Salt Creek Elementary,
Carla Kriss, Allen Elementary,
Gavin Kelly, Salt Creek Elementary,
Kimberly Hale, Salt Creek Elementary,
Tim Kriss, Salt Creek Elementary, and
Courtney Lesaik, Rice Elementary,

participated on two relay teams.

“Shannon, Gavin and myself competed last year for the inaugural event,” said Carla Kriss. “We loved it so much we talked the other teachers into it!! Tim Kriss and Kimberly Hale compete in many local triathlons and Gavin Kelly runs marathons and Courtney Lesiak as well. Shannon Cleator has been a swimmer and swim teacher since a young age and I just started working out ‘hard’ and competing two years ago. It was fun to participate in a race in Chula Vista since we work and train in this beautiful city!”

Sweetwater Interim Superintendent Ed Brand to Get Contract?

Sweetwater Interim Superintendent Ed Brand to Get Contract?
By Susan Luzzaro
San Diego Reader
Sept. 2, 2012

Although no meeting notice has been posted on the Sweetwater Union High School District website, several reliable South Bay community members are passing around the information that the Sweetwater board will hold a special meeting September 6. The purpose of the meeting is purportedly to begin the process of offering interim superintendent Ed Brand a contract.

Brand has been serving on the board on a temporary basis since last June, when ex-superintendent Jesus Gandara was given a juicy severance package. (Gandara is currently under indictment for several charges involving corruption at Sweetwater.) Brand has been receiving $20,000 a month and five weeks’ paid vacation as an independent contractor.

According to a June 29 Union-Tribune article, last year, “Brand took home $240,000 in pay on top of $118,080 in pension. Under the new [state] rules, retirees in the California State Teachers’ Retirement System who choose to go back to work [for] an employer in the system will now be limited to $31,020 in earnings per fiscal year — whether they are on staff or, like Brand, a consultant doing the work of a staff person.

Though Brand has been interim superintendent for just over a year, his tenure has been marked by conflict. The most recent conflict came with his “open boundaries program,” which parents believe is negatively impacting their children’s education.

Under the program, students can attend any school within the district, regardless of where they live. Parents who live on the east side of Chula Vista report that this program, which was introduced at the beginning of this academic year, resulted in overcrowding, delays in students receiving textbooks, and traffic problems.

Parents were disappointed when Brand backed out of a meeting planned for August 30 and instead posted his explanation about open boundaries on the district’s website. Another meeting has been scheduled for the second week of September.

If the board calls a special meeting on September 6, they are required to post the agenda on the district website 24 hours in advance.


Sept. 2, 2012 @ 9:02 a.m.

It's unbelievable that this board will vote to give Brand a contract but we all know they will. Brand is repeating his actions that got him fired in San Marcos. He's brought his cronies back as consultants, he even hired one of their wives as a teacher in the new charter school(McLaughlin. Brand, McCann,and yes folks Cartmill are asking for donations for Burt Grossman's campaign for Board of Trustee vs Bertha Lopez. Since Lopez got rid of the crook Gandara (which McCann takes credit for) the board and Brand have been seeking candidates to run against Lopez. Yes, that 5ft package is dangerous to all of them. At the last board mtg. She wanted to know why McCann's legal fees that were close to 8,000 were paid for by the district. I bet that answer will never come. [Maura Larkins comment: Bertha Lopez had no trouble approving legal fees for Robin Donlan, Rick Werlin and others who committed illegal acts when Bertha Lopez was a board member at CVESD.] McCann lost his bid in court against a citizen he didn't like and the judge saw through the scam. Thus McCann should pay for his own attorney. I bet Brand gets the same parachute clause in his contract that Gandara's exit clause had(tax payers pay attorney fees whether guilt or innocent) I can't wait to see this contract,it will probably be the largest give away in district history...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Parents speak out at Castle Park Elementary Meeting

On Tuesday, May 27, 2008 parents spoke out at a meeting at Castle Park Elementary held for the purpose of finding out what traits they want to see in their next principal.

Quite a few parents said: someone just like Carlos Ulloa, the current principal forced to leave by angry teachers.

This morning, "Castle Park Family" teachers were in a fury when they learned from their close associate, Felicia Starr, that parents had spoken against teacher Nikki Perez.

This is ironic, since Nikki Perez famously and publicly asked the Castle Park community in 2004,"What did [I] do wrong?" At the time she and her pals in the "Castle Park Family" were involved in getting rid of Carlos Ulloa's predecessor, Oly "Ollie" Matos.

Parents want to answer Nikki's question, but Nikki doesn't want to hear it.


Villanueva arrives from Cajon Valley
Caroline Dipping
Aug. 23, 2012

Froylán Villanueva has been named the new principal of Veterans Elementary School in Chula Vista. His first day leading the 900-student campus was Monday.

Villanueva, 41, comes to the Chula Vista Elementary School District from the Cajon Valley Union School District, where he was principal for the past six years at Greenfield Middle School.

Previous principal Olga West
Director of Human Resources and Professional Development at Lemon Grove School District
Previous--CVESD, South Bay Union School District
Doctor of Education at UCSD

At Veterans, he replaces Olga West, who has joined the Lemon Grove School District as director of human resources and professional development.

A native San Diegan, Villanueva attended Hoover High School and San Diego State University. His career in education began in the Sweetwater Union High School District and included serving as an assistant principal at Mar Vista High and as an interim principal at Southwest Middle School. For several years, he chaired Adelante Latino, an annual conference that sends seventh- through 12th-grade male students from the Sweetwater district to UCSD for a day with Latino professionals who talk about what it takes to get into an industry and be successful.

Villanueva said he is honored to be part of the Chula Vista district and its mission to keep students the focus of every decision. He also looks forward to educating at the elementary school level.

“I’ve had the experience being with kids in middle and high school where I know where they are going,” he said. “Now, I’m looking at kids learning the alphabet and times tables. I’m really excited to be able to make an impact at the beginning of their education.”

The father of two daughters, Villanueva is an avid cyclist and runner.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Caroline Dipping
July 5, 2012

The Chula Vista Elementary School District has appointed two new principals.

Erika Taylor is the new principal at Palomar Elementary. Chris E. Vickers was appointed to serve as principal of Rosebank Elementary.

Taylor, a lifelong Chula Vista resident, began teaching more than 10 years ago in the Sweetwater Union High School District. There, she taught math and health and coached a variety of sports including volleyball, basketball, and swimming. She was hired by the Chula Vista Elementary School District two years ago as an associate principal at Olympic View Elementary.

Palomar Elementary is a 2012 California Distinguished School. In 2010-11, the most recent year available, it had an API, or Academic Performance Index, of 856, representing a 50-point increase in one year.

Vickers began his career in education with the Dallas Independent School District. In 2000, he and his family moved to Chula Vista where he has since worked for the elementary school district as a teacher and an associate principal. His most recent assignment was associate principal at Harborside Elementary.

“They are well acquainted with the district’s vision and values, and well acquainted with their respective school communities,” said Superintendent Francisco Escobedo. “I am confident they are the collaborative, skillful leaders that our community expects of principals in our district.”

New CVE president Jennefer Porch is as secretive as Peg Myers

The annual CTA Presidents' Conference is taking place at Asilomar State Beach (see photo) near Monterey.

New Chula Vista Educators president Jennefer Porch is up at Asilomar this week at the annual CTA Presidents' Conference, but she left instructions with her staff not to release the names of new CVE officers.

Perhaps CTA President Dean Vogel can give Jennefer some tips about how to run CVE. I myself had a nice chat with Mr. Vogel at the conference a few years ago. (I was a lowly CTA member, not a chapter president, but Mr. Vogel was very nice.)

Jennefer may have replaced Peg Myers as president of CVE, but she doesn't seem to have replaced Peg's policies regarding secrecy. Furtiveness has been in force since 2001 when former presidents Gina Boyd and Jim Groth and executive director Tim O'Neill decided to cover up crimes by Gina's friend Robin Donlan at Castle Park Elementary.

Jennefer held her first meeting as president on July 10, 2012. It was advertised as the meeting when a decision would be made as to who the new vice-president would be. Elections don't seem to be the method of choice for choosing either CVESD board members of CVE officers. Three years ago vice president-elect Barbara Dunwoodie chose to resign right after winning election. What kind of politics is going on behind closed doors on Landis Avenue in Chula Vista?

CTA advertises itself as a democratic institution, but it is actually hierarchical, and the power structure is decided through back room politics, not elections.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Jim Groth and Imperial Valley locals on California State of Emergency rallies

Imperial Valley locals to attend California State of Emergency rallies
Imperial Valley Press
May 10, 2011

...“(Monday) was the kickoff of the state of emergency and there were more than 300 current teachers and retired teachers, counselors and librarians to kick off the week,” said Jim Groth, CTA board member, Imperial County representative and Chula Vista teacher, on Monday on his way out of Sacramento.

Groth said CTA representatives met at the state Capitol for interfaith prayer services and a march around to the Capitol building.

“We broke off and had teams of teachers go to the legislative offices and talk to them about passing the next fiscal budget for our students,” he said.

“The Legislature has the authority to extend the taxes that are going to expire June 30,” Groth said.

“It’s going to take two Republicans in the Assembly and two Republicans in the Senate to meet the two-thirds requirement to pass a budget that would include the tax extensions,” he said.

“The issues remain very separated by party lines,” he said. “We’re asking Republicans to do the right thing for the students of California and pass a budget including the tax extensions.”

“What we hope to do is bring awareness of this issue (of budget cuts),” said local CTA chapter president Gaylla Finnell. “During this week, CTA’s hope is that people will contact their representatives and let them know to not cut education.

“We need to take action and put pressure on our representatives,” Finnell said.

Though Imperial County Teachers’ UniServ staff couldn’t comment on exactly who will be attending, UniServ did say two busloads are expected to attend a state of emergency rally Friday in San Diego with others traveling on their own. About 125 to 150 teachers, students and others from Imperial County expect to be in attendance.

Groth also said some school board members from Imperial County will attend Friday’s rally in Sacramento.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Lauderbach School Tutor Suspected of Sexual Assault Due in Court

Chula Vista School Tutor Suspected of Sexual Assault Due in Court
Jun 25, 2012
Channel 6 News

A Chula Vista elementary school tutor and volunteer youth football coach accused of repeatedly molesting a young relative is scheduled to be arraigned at the South Bay Courthouse Monday.

Carlos Ojeda, 20, is suspected of sexually assaulting the child at least four times, starting last July, according to Chula Vista police Capt. Gary Ficacci.

Ficacci declined to disclose the alleged victim's gender or relationship to the suspect and would only say the child is under 10. Ojeda tutors on a contract basis at Lauderbach Elementary School. The alleged victim is not a student at the school or a member of the team Ojeda coaches.

Ojeda surrendered to detectives Thursday. The defendant was expected to be charged with four counts of committing a lewd act with a minor and one count of oral copulation with a minor, Ficacci said.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Peg Myers is out as president of CVE; new president is Jennefer Porch

Jennefer Porch

Jennefer Porch is the new president of Chula Vista Educators, but the CVE office tells me that a "meeting has not yet been held to determine the other officers." It may sound odd that the officers were not determined by the recent election, but Chula Vista Educators seems to have developed a habit of having winners of elections resign after winning.

Peg Myers was one of the chief engineers of the calamitous events at Castle Park Elementary. Peg Myers was also one of the Castle Park Five. Peg was deposed regarding those events. Here is Peg's deposition.

Jennefer Porch is from Juarez Lincoln Elementary in CVESD. I have left a message with the CVE office asking Ms. Porch to call me, but it's possible she won't call. CVE has been extremely secretive for the past decade.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Moody's downgrades to A1 from Aa2 Rating on Chula Vista ESD COP

Moody's downgrades to A1 from Aa2 Rating on Chula Vista ESD COP (2000 Qzab)
The Bond Buyer
June 8, 2012

Moody's Investors Service has downgraded to A1 from Aa2 the rating on the Chula Vista Elementary School District Certificates of Participation (2000 QZAB Project). The downgrade reflects the April 3, 2012 downgrade to A1 from Aa2 of General Electric (GE) Capital Corporation. The rating is solely reliant on GE and...

Sunday, June 03, 2012

ADL and the Chula Vista Elementary School District

This program was tried at Castle Park Elementary soon after the Castle Park Five episode. It might have been more appropriate to teach these principles to the teachers! The bullying of principals (and other teachers) by the clique of teachers who called themselves the "Castle Park Family" resulted in eleven principals in eleven years at the school. Teacher bullies and a tiny group of parents also brought about a $20,000 embezzlement at the PTA and large amounts of tax dollars spent on defending teachers for criminal actions.

ADL and the Chula Vista Elementary School District: Working together to make the places we learn No Place for Hate®
May 31, 2012

The Chula Vista Elementary School District (CVESD) has participated in the ADL’s No Place for Hate® initiative since it was launched in San Diego in 2009. We celebrated another successful year with a Banner Presentation Ceremony at the CVESD Education Services and Support Center on May 23, 2012.

Assistant Superintendent Sandra Villegas Zuni began by commending all the educators and administrators for their commitment to providing a learning environment where students feel accepted and safe. Parents, Ms. Villegas Zuni said, entrust their children to the schools, and it is the responsibility of everyone in the school to honor that trust through programs that promote an appreciation for diversity and proactively address bullying.

Tina Malka, ADL Associate Director, spoke about the ADL’s mission to "to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all." ADL recognizes that in order to keep the Jewish community safe, we need to keep all communities safe. Ms. Malka thanked our CVESD partners for their commitment to combating intolerance, bullying, and hatred in their schools.

Antwon Lincoln, Coordinator of Instructional Technology, shared the District’s partnership with iSafe, which provides educational programs that empower students to safely, responsibly and productively use Information and Communications Technologies. iSafe is a valuable tool in addressing cyberbullying. Mr. Lincoln then introduced the winner of CVESD’s 2012 Speech Contest. The 6th grade students’ topic was “How will you positively impact the world?” The winner, Discovery Charter School’s Miguel Aldrete, spoke eloquently and engagingly about his efforts to combat deforestation, educate the youth about obesity, and “motivating for education.” Miguel uses the Internet to spread his message effectively in a positive way.

Representatives for several schools spoke about the No Place for Hate® activities they conducted throughout the year and the impact they have made on the students. The No Place for Hate® banners were then presented to individual schools.

We look forward to another successful partnership with the Chula Vista Elementary School District during the 2012-2013 school year!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Chula Vista Elementary Schools Seek Funding, Hire Consultant

In a recent study it was discovered that in 110 out of 111 cases, the bond underwriter who was the biggest campaign donor got the job of selling school bonds. California Watch recently wrote, "For donors [to bond campaigns], failure is rare. In only five cases out of 111 did an underwriter make a donation and fail to receive a contract to sell the bonds. In four of those, however, more than one underwriter made donations and the contract went to the firm that had contributed a larger amount to the campaign." (See second story below.) Susan Luzzaro fails to report whether Dale Scott & Co. has made campaign contributions to CVESD bond campaigns or to board incumbents.

Chula Vista Elementary Schools Seek Funding, Hire Consultant
By Susan Luzzaro
San Diego Reader
May 19, 2012

Asking some South Bay voters to approve a school bond measure is a risky proposition. Bond-related corruption charges for Southwestern College and Sweetwater Union High School District have muddied the waters, but the Chula Vista Elementary School District feels confident enough to take the next step forward at the May 22 board meeting.

District spokesperson Anthony Millican said in a May 18 interview that the bond proposal will cover 31 of the district’s oldest schools located in the western portion of Chula Vista.

The district hopes to use the bond funding mainly for technology and infrastructure. One goal is to make the schools wireless for iPads or similar technological enhancements. “You can’t have 21st-century learning without 21st-century tools,” Millican said.

Some humdrum but necessary projects will include relocation of conduits underground, improving storm drainage, and replacing portable classrooms with permanent structures.

The district also hopes to give Rice Elementary School a makeover, aligning classrooms with the needs of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) program.

Millican discussed the fact that the South Bay’s west-side student population has declined while the east side has grown to the point that a new school is being built. Millican said he believes Chula Vista’s bayfront development will boost the west-side student population.

According to an April 13 U-T article, “Nearly 65 percent of Chula Vista voters polled appeared amenable to a bond…” The San Francisco–based financial advisory firm Dale Scott & Co. conducted the survey.

Scott said in a May 18 interview that his company has been the financial advisor to the district since 1998.

In addition to the survey, Scott said the company will collect data, write the ballot language, and prepare the underlying financial assumptions for the bond measure.

A voting district has to be created as well; only the Chula Vistans who will be financing the bond through property taxes and receiving the benefits in their neighborhood schools will be voting.

The cost of Dale Scott's services will be rolled into the bond. Because the consultant's work won't be completed until the November election, the cost is an unknown. An April 13 U-T story said the company won't charge if the bond doesn't pass.

With campaign donations, bond underwriters also secure contracts
May 3, 2012
Will Evans
California Watch

Leading financial firms over the past five years donated $1.8 million to successful school bond measures in California, and in almost every instance, school district officials hired those same underwriters to sell the bonds for a profit, a California Watch review has found.

The practice is especially pronounced in California, where underwriters gave 155 political contributions since 2007 to successful bond campaigns for school construction and repairs. One major underwriter, Piper Jaffray, has said it gets more requests for campaign contributions in California than in any other state where they do business.

The success rate of these underwriters is extremely high. In only five cases since 2007 has a campaign donor failed to receive a bond-selling contract from the school district.

School districts say they choose bond underwriters for their expertise and competitive rates and because they’ve served them well in the past. And underwriting firms say they contribute only after they’ve been hired to sell the bonds, avoiding any undue influence.

But critics say that no matter when the agreement is made, the campaign donations influence school districts’ business decisions. They argue that pre-arranged underwriting contracts bypass a truly competitive sale, leaving in doubt whether districts got the best possible deal.

“If this isn’t clear proof of pay to play, then pay to play doesn’t exist,” said Glenn Byers, Los Angeles County’s assistant treasurer, who oversees some school bond sales but doesn’t control the hiring of underwriters. “The timing of the payment is irrelevant. You paid and you got the job. That’s pay to play.”

Some states have banned the practice. Missouri, for one, outlaws donations to bond campaigns from companies with a financial interest in the bond sale.

In the past five years in California, five major underwriters donated $1.8 million to help pass 111 ballot measures, authorizing $15.5 billion in debt. A couple dozen other measures received underwriter contributions but failed at the ballot box.

Overwhelmingly, bond underwriters who donated to these campaigns were granted contracts by school districts.

In nearly all cases, the only underwriters that donated to a successful school bond campaign ended up working on the bond sale. Bond Buyer, a trade publication, found the same pattern in an earlier review of 2010 campaign contributions.

At times, multiple underwriting firms will donate to a single bond campaign. But even there, the success rate is high. In almost all cases in which multiple bond underwriters donated to the same campaign, they all were given contracts by the school district to market those bonds...

For donors, failure is rare. In only five cases out of 111 did an underwriter make a donation and fail to receive a contract to sell the bonds. In four of those, however, more than one underwriter made donations and the contract went to the firm that had contributed a larger amount to the campaign...

(Click HERE to see the rest of this very detailed article.)

San Bruno voters nixed a ballot measure after this very hopeful article was published on page 3 of The Daily Journal in San Mateo County:

"...[P]hone surveys were given to about 800 likely voters in the San Bruno Park Elementary School District recently about a possible parcel tax or bond measure. Both generated strong support,according to results by Dale Scott from San Francisco-based Dale Scott & Company that will be shared at tonight’s meeting. Moving forward could be the next step in a number of budget-related decisions as the district faces a deficit over $1 million in coming school years. About 70.3 percent of people polled supported a parcel tax... above the two-thirds passage threshold required for the measure that could support programs..."

A San Bruno Patch reader commented:

"As I see it, one of the big lessons learned from the failed Measure O campaign is that Dale Scott & Company isn't the company you want to be taking political advice from as far as political campaigns in San Bruno are concerned."

Here is a report by Lozano Smith law firm regarding an investigation into allegations against Dale Scott & Co.:

Ironically, Lozano Smith was sanctioned by a federal judge in 2005 in a scathing 80-page decision in which he ordered all the firm's attorneys to take ethics training.

Some Lozano Smith attorneys then formed Fagan, Friedman and Fulfrost law firm, which represents CVESD.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sweetwater Boardmember John McCann Calls Cops on Recall Activist

Sweetwater Boardmember John McCann Calls Cops on Recall Activist
By Susan Luzzaro
April 18, 2012

Tensions within the Sweetwater Union High School District continue to escalate.

The April 16 board meeting had an overflow audience of unhappy people, but an odd conflict between boardmember John McCann and recall activist Stewart Payne took place in the parking lot after the meeting.

Prior to the meeting, outside, the committee to recall Sweetwater boardmembers McCann, Jim Cartmill, and Arlie Ricasa began their signature drive. In the wake of the countless Sweetwater stories of disrepute, the group is seeking to recall the three boardmembers who are not up for reelection November.

After the meeting, McCann went out to the parking lot and gave an interview to KUSI. During the interview, McCann called his detractors disgruntled employees and specifically referred to Payne as someone who was just seeking work in the district. (Besides being one of the organizers of the recall petition, Payne is one of the people who went to the district attorney to begin the investigation of malfeasance in the district.)

After the KUSI interview, McCann turned and advanced toward the group he had criticized, and with an outstretched hand, said, “I just want to shake your hand.” Many in the group retreated, and Payne said, “I don’t want to shake your hand. What are you going to do? Have them shoot me?” Payne gestured to the armed security guards who had followed McCann to the parking lot. (Security has been hired to police the board meetings.)

On April 17, the U-T reported, “Police responded at 10:26 p.m. to a call of threats being made in the parking lot of the district’s administration center, said Chula Vista police Capt. Gary Wedge. No arrests were made, he said.

“Sweetwater Trustee John McCann said he called police after he was threatened by a member of the community activist group Occupy Sweetwater, which is organizing the recall. McCann said he had just finished a TV news interview and was trying to shake hands with some Occupy members standing nearby, including Stewart Payne. McCann said Payne stepped toward him with clenched fists.

“ ‘I said, “I’m just trying to shake your hand,” and he basically said he was going to knock me out,’ McCann said. ‘He was raising his arm and then a security guard stepped in between me and Mr. Payne and he was unable to hit me.’ ”

In an April 17 interview, private security officer Sanchez, from JDS Exclusive Security Services, stated that he did not call the police because “at no time did I feel it was necessary.”

Sanchez said his intervention between Payne and McCann consisted of “coming between their conversation.”

McCann allegedly advanced toward other critics, creating an emotional exchange with Maty Adato, who challenged McCann about planting harmful stories about her in the U-T.

This is not the first parking-lot incident for McCann. Chula Vista councilmember Rudy Ramirez, also in an April 17 interview, said he had spoken to a U-T reporter last year on Veterans Day about an incident in the Chula Vista library parking lot. Ramirez said he felt threatened when McCann drove his car straight at him before swerving away abruptly.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Thank you, Russell Coronado, for freeing CVESD from the lengthy reign of Patrick Judd.

See background story below, after resignation announcement:

Chula Vista seeks applicants for post
March 20, 2012

The Chula Vista Elementary School District is looking to appoint a new board member.

It was announced Monday that board member Russell Coronado is resigning from his post effective March 31, nine months before his term is up in December. Board President Pamela Smith said Coronado, who was elected in 2008, was leaving due to “personal reasons.”

“(Coronado) has been very dedicated and it’s been a pleasure to serve with him,” Smith said at Monday’s meeting. “He’s brought a lot of expertise to the board and always focused. I have never been in a conversation publicly or in closed session with this board that isn’t always about kids, kids first, and Russell has been very true to that. We’re going to miss him.”

The remaining trustees, minus Douglas Luffborough who was absent, voted Monday to begin accepting applications to fill the position on the five-member board. Coronado was also absent from Monday’s meeting.

Applications are due at the district office by noon April 11.

Applicants must be at least 18, a U.S. citizen, a resident of the school district, a registered voter and not legally disqualified from holding public office by state law (for bribery or perjury convictions, for example).

The board decided not to fill the vacancy through a special election because of its estimated cost of $770,000 to $800,000. Trustees plan to interview the applicants and appoint the new member at a special board meeting April 23. The chosen candidate will serve the remainder of Coronado’s term.

This will be the third time since 2007 that the board has decided to appoint a new member. Trustee David Bejarano was chosen out of a pool of 39 candidates in 2007 after Cheryl Cox stepped down following her election as mayor of Chula Vista. Luffborough was selected out of 23 applicants in 2009 after Bertha Lopez resigned to serve on the Sweetwater Union High School District board.

“We have been through this process before and it’s been a good one and has resulted in some outstanding board members,” Smith said at Monday’s meeting. “I think it is a very inclusive process and we take the process very seriously. We look forward to hearing from our community and seeing who’s interested in this.”

Applications are available at the superintendent’s office, 84 E. J St. or on the district’s website at Eligible community members must submit a letter of intent, the completed application, and two letters of recommendation to Soreli Norton, assistant to the superintendent and the board of education.


Head of CV school board to move temporarily
Russell Coronado, president since last year, is tending to a family member, officials say
Ashly McGlone
Aug. 30, 2010

The board president of Chula Vista Elementary School District has temporarily moved to the North County to care for an ill family member, officials said Monday.

“I have a commitment to the students and people of Chula Vista, but at this time I also need to provide care and support to my family members,” Russell Coronado said. “At an appropriate time, we will make a decision about my position on the board.”

Further details were not disclosed.

Coronado was named school board president in December 2009 after being elected the previous year.

When asked whether there is a threshold for how long a board member may live outside of the school system's boundaries, district spokesman Anthony Millican said officials were looking into it.

Millican said the district’s day-to-day operations will be unaffected.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sweetwater legal fees effort fizzles

Shame on the teachers union for not calling a halt to corruption years earlier. There were articles for years in the San Diego Union Tribune about the strange legal fees paid to Bonny Garcia. Why was CTA silent? Because CTA gets cooperation behind the scenes from corrupt board members in most districts.

Sweetwater legal fees effort fizzles
Proposal to fund them for 3 current and one former official dies
Ashly McGlone
Jan. 31, 2012

An effort to have the Sweetwater school district pay up to $1.3 million in legal fees for current and former officials ran into trouble Tuesday as the idea lacked support from the community and the school board.

Items on the agenda to fund the legal defense of former board member Greg Sandoval and current board members Pearl Quinones and Arlie Ricasa did not move forward, as no one on the board moved the items for action.

Quinones, Sandoval and Ricasa are charged by the District Attorney’s Office with accepting gifts from contractors, failing to report them on required state forms and then voting for contracts for the donors. They have pleaded not guilty. All three were on the agenda for $400,000 in fees.

Board member Bertha Lopez, whose home was raided but she was not charged, was on the agenda for a $100,000 of legal fees. She withdrew the request around 12:45 a.m. Tuesday at the end of a seven-hour meeting.

As the district laid out the agenda, board members would be able to recuse themselves from the vote on their own legal fees, but approve the expense for colleagues.

Attorneys Cory Briggs, from a citizens group suing for return of payments to contractors, told the board that recusal would not work to cure a conflict of interest for board members voting.

The meeting was the first since Jan. 4, when District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis issued the charges.

More than 700 people gathered in the gymnasium at Hilltop High School for varying reasons. A group of about 30 people in attendance supporting board member Arlie Ricasa wore blue ribbons.

At least 200 held signs reading "Recall or Resign."

Mar Vista High School teacher Lauren McLennan served three members --Ricasa, Jim Cartmill and John McCann -- with recall notices.

McLennan, a leader of the newly created "Occupy Sweetwater" movement, said trustees must be recalled because they "have let scandal after scandal occur on their watch because they are more focused on their political careers than their duties as school board members."

"We are not recalling them simply because of the felonies and misdemeanors,” McLennan said. ‘’This is for years and years of neglect."

Craig Miles, teacher and varsity tennis coach at Montgomery High School, said, "You have to be here because this is about the future of the district, not only for the board members but about the bond money and how it is being used and who is trying to control it."

Miles cautioned the public to reserve judgment.

"The turnout is good and this process will play out but the legal issues have to be respected and they often take time and everyone is innocent until proven guilty, not just accused."

Many members of the public expressed ardent opposition to the proposed payment of legal fees.

Sofia Reyes, 11, took to the podium Monday to urge board members to not approve the legal fees.

"That money shouldn't be used to pay for the board member's attorneys. It should go towards improving the schools," Reyes said. "Clean up your act. Next year when I enter middle school I want to be proud of my district, not ashamed by what they have done and hidden from us."

Saturday, January 28, 2012

When the Trouble Started for Sweetwater Schools

Bond money seems to have gone up in smoke in other school districts, but Bonnie Dumanis focuses on Chula Vista Democrats. Why?

When the Trouble Started for Sweetwater Schools
January 23, 2012
By Rob Davis

The construction company's website implicitly acknowledges the potential for public officials to abuse their posts. But the Seville Group says it stands above that. Integrity isn't just a buzzword, its About Us page says. Ethics are at the core of the company's existence. Without ethics, there is only failure.

Click on the company motto — Edge, Execute, Excel — and its principles appear.
"We have a simple test," it says. "Before you make any decision on behalf of the company ask yourself these questions: Is it illegal? Is it immoral? Is it unethical? Is it stupid? Most public officials who get into trouble should have answered ‘yes' to one of these questions. The same is true for companies that work for public agencies."

Trouble started for the Sweetwater Union High School District on a spring evening in 2007, with what seemed like a routine decision on an innocuous agenda item involving Seville. Months earlier, voters had approved borrowing $644 million to modernize the South Bay school district's buildings. Now, the public agency overseeing the South Bay's middle and high schools had to choose someone to oversee all that spending.
The selection process had been exhaustive, board members were told. Then-Superintendent Jesus Gandara recommended what he said was the top firm: a joint venture of Seville Group and another company, Gilbane. The board hired the venture and handed it $7.5 million in work.

But Gilbane/Seville hadn't initially been the top firm. The district's internal ratings were tossed out. That happened routinely.

The district's decision to hire Gilbane/Seville — and later to give it even more work — brought instant criticism, even allegations of corruption. Now, five years later, it has led to criminal charges, in what District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis says was a pervasive pay-to-play scheme.

At the same time Gilbane/Seville leapfrogged another company ranked higher, it bestowed its largess on officials handing out tens of millions in contracts. Court records show that Gandara, who recommended the company, saw "Jersey Boys" with a Gilbane contractor and was treated to expensive dinners at restaurants across the region.

When Gandara's daughter competed for the title of Miss Texas, where they lived previously, the contractor, Henry Amigable, stepped forward with a $1,000 sponsorship, court documents say. When then-board member Greg Sandoval's daughter vied to become Miss South County, Amigable wrote a $500 check, records show. Gandara, Sandoval and two current Sweetwater board members — Pearl Quiñones and Arlie Ricasa — all face felony charges of failing to report numerous gifts from contractors.

The case strikes at the heart of the South Bay political establishment. Beyond those charged, investigators have searched the home of Bertha Lopez, a Sweetwater trustee whose husband, Jose, is the Otay Water District's president. They've also searched the homes of two former Southwestern College officials, Nicholas Alioto and John Wilson.

Investigators have interviewed the mayors of Chula Vista and National City, county supervisors and a San Diego city councilman. Jaime Bonilla, another Otay Water District board member, is also mentioned in search warrants; Bertha Lopez and Seville employees had an appointment to dine at his house.

The case has widely been publicized as a bribery investigation. Dumanis has said the officials accepted "what amounted to bribes." But only one person faces a bribery charge, Gilbane's former employee, Amigable.

Prosecutors haven't charged anyone with receiving bribes. School officials instead are charged with failing to report gifts and filing false gift disclosure forms, both felonies. Prosecutors have also leveled lesser misdemeanors, alleging the school leaders had a personal financial interest in their decisions.

The circumstances speak to the unseemly side of politics, a world where gift-giving, influence peddling and campaign donations are all routine and legal — to a point. Politicians across the county regularly receive campaign funding from lobbyists and contractors doing business with their agencies. It's how the system works.
California law allows public officials to accept up to $420 in gifts annually from businesses and people working with their agencies. The gifts have to be disclosed, and they can't be explicitly traded for someone's vote. Prosecutors say the Sweetwater officials far exceeded gift limits, taking thousands without reporting it on state forms submitted under penalty of perjury.

The case also shows how a typically unseen influence game is played. One example: Prosecutors say Southwestern College's Wilson fed inside information to one construction company, recommended the firm for a job, retired a month later and then went to work for it. No charges have been filed related to it, though Dumanis has said more charges could be forthcoming in the case.

Prosecutors haven't disclosed everything that they uncovered while executing search warrants in December. But the evidence they have released so far connecting the gifts to favorable votes is largely circumstantial.

Weeks before Gilbane/Seville got that Sweetwater contract, Quiñones went to Seville's president for a favor. Quiñones was prepping for a bigger political stage and wanted a resume builder.

She asked Rene Flores Sr. to contact then-Assemblyman Joe Coto, D-San Jose, on her behalf, court records show, and sent Flores her resume. "[H]ope you can help me with this... it is really important to me," she wrote.

Flores forwarded the resume to Coto, according to emails released by prosecutors, telling the assemblyman he hoped he would find Quiñones "an appropriate compensated commission where she might serve the State of California." Quiñones was considering running for state office, Flores said, and hoped to raise her profile and make more public appearances.

As the vote on Gilbane/Seville neared, court records show Flores emailed Quiñones to say he was trying to set up a meeting with Coto. "And again, I want to thank you very much for your support," Flores wrote.

Quiñones replied that she could meet a couple of weeks later. "Please let me know..." she said, "and also I support those that support me!"

Questions about impropriety arose from the moment the deal with Gilbane/Seville was struck in 2007.

Nick Marinovich, a contracting expert who served on an earlier construction oversight committee, publicly questioned the school board's decision to hire Gilbane/Seville.

Marinovich had spent nearly three decades overseeing public construction projects for San Diego County. He knew how contractors were supposed to be selected — with a process free of political influence, without top executives getting involved.
But Gandara had participated and recommended Gilbane/Seville, even though another venture, Harris/Gafcon, ranked higher and was drawing good reviews as the district's current construction overseer. So Marinovich went to the board and lodged his criticism. The reaction? "Indifference," Marinovich said.

"It didn't pass the smell test," he said in a recent interview. "It was really just a gut level reaction."

Community concerns persisted. A 2008 San Diego County Taxpayers Association report urged more transparency for Sweetwater's construction hiring, noting that any questions about Gilbane/Seville could've been avoided if the district had been open about its reasons. The report noted that at least one unnamed community member was worried about possible corruption.

Gandara had repeatedly intervened in the district's selection process for construction companies. A 2009 investigation found that lower-ranked firms were routinely picked. One law firm, Garcia, Calderon & Ruiz, was hired even though it rated last out of four firms. The internal rankings were often disregarded, the investigation concluded, making it difficult to determine why the district hired the firms it did. Both Seville and the law firm have since had their work suspended. Seville says it isn't a target of the D.A.'s investigation.

Concerned parents routinely went to board meetings throughout 2009 and 2010, criticizing the board for its oversight of construction spending and for accepting campaign donations from companies working for the district. One parent, Stewart Payne, said he thought the board's behavior was strange enough that he went to the FBI in early 2011. Then he and other parents went to the district attorney.

"I just said: Something's wrong here, I don't know what it is, but something's not making sense," Payne said. "Something was just wrong."

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

DA: 5 Charged in School Corruption Case

Skimming money does undermine an agency, but often it's a small potatoes operation. The folks who don't skim from the agencies, but subvert the entire agency for their personal goals take vastly larger sums legally.

For example, Diane Crosier and Dan Puplava at the San Diego County of Education benefit from a corrupt system, and the SDCOE board and Superintendent Randy Ward do not even require Diane Crosier to report gifts.

SDCOE is protected by the news media in San Diego ever since Emily Alpert was forced to stop her investigation of SDCOE.

Investigators call it a corrupt, "pay-to-play" bribery scheme

By Sarah Grieco
NBC San Diego
Jan 4, 2012

Charges have been filed against five current and former Sweetwater school officials in a South Bay corruption case, according to District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.

Former Superintendent Jesus Gandara, former board member Greg Sandoval, current board members Pearl Quinones and Arlie Ricasa and construction contracting executive Henry Amigable have all been charged with crimes.

Felony charges include bribery, perjury and influencing elected officials. Misdemeanor charges were also filed

If convicted, the maximum sentence would be four to seven years.

Gandara had the most charges with seven counts of felony and three misdemeanors. Amigable, whose company also allegedly made campaign contributions to board members, received two felony charges.

The yearlong investigation began when the DA office received multiple anonymous tips on the behavior of the past and present school board members.

Investigators are calling it a corrupt, "pay-to-play" bribery scheme, involving South Bay schools and college boards.

Dumanis said the case is believed to be the largest of its kind in San Diego County.

"For years, public officials regularly accepted what amounted to bribes in exchange for their votes on multi-million dollar construction projects," she said. “This case is outrageous and shameful.”

There are allegations of lavish meals, $1,000 bottles of wine, Southwest airline tickets, Lakers and Rose Bowl tickets that helped win multi-million dollar contracts for school construction.

Investigators from the DA’s office searched seven homes, including those of Quinones, Ricasa and Board Member Bertha Lopez. Investigators took computers, calendars and other records.

Dumanis repeatedly said during a press conference that the investigation is ongoing and additional charges or defendants could be possible.

The arraignment for Gandara, Sandoval, Ricasa, Quinones and Amigable is scheduled for Jan. 13

School Officials Accepted Thousands in Gifts: DA
Lavish meals, sporting events tickets and more given to school board officials
By Paul Krueger
NBC San Diego
Dec 28, 2011

The homes of three school board members were raided Dec. 20 by DA investigators.

Investigators are calling it a corrupt, "pay-to-play" bribery scheme, involving South Bay schools and college boards.

Allegations of lavish meals, $100 bottles of wine, and Rose Bowl tickets that helped win multi-million dollar contracts for school construction.

According to search warrants made public today, one school board member got tickets to Padres, Chargers, Angels and Lakers games -- sometimes in the stadium's private suite -- plus two nights at the Biltmore Hotel in Pasadena and tickets to the Rose Bowl.

Last week, investigators from the District Attorney's office searched seven homes. The targets include three members of the Sweetwater Union High School District: Pearl Quinones, Bertha Lopez and Arlie Ricasa.

Investigators took computers, calendars and other records, but would not disclose the reason for those raids.

These search warrants, unsealed Tuesday in Superior Court, provide new details about an alleged felony bribery scheme involving a construction company executive who pursued school administrators and board members with gifts, in return for their approval of school construction projects.

One investigator calls it a "corrupt pay-for-play culture" that tarnished the Sweetwater Union School District, and Southwest College, in Chula Vista.

At the center of the alleged scam is Henry Amigable, who worked for Gilbane/SGI construction management.

Investigators say he spent thousands of dollars on food and wine for school board members, including a $1,700 restaurant meal.

Amigable's company also allegedly made campaign contributions to board members, to get the inside track on business, and spent more than $2,000 on theater tickets and dinner for South Bay board members and administrators, including former Sweetwater superintendent Jesus Gandara.

Gilbane Construction also allegedly paid a $1,000 beauty pageant fee, for Gandara's daughter, and a $500 beauty pageant scholarship for the daughter of former Sweetwater board president, Greg Sandoval.

Sandoval allegedly got those tickets to sporting events in San Diego and Los Angeles, and the New Year's eve hotel stay in Pasadena.

According to the search warrant, Sandoval "had his hand out for gifts so often, even employees from the construction company remarked that he has no shame."

Monday, January 02, 2012

Judge finds CVESD retaliated against Joyce Singer Abrams for union activity

A recent PERB decision finds:

"In addition to all of the above circumstantial evidence of unlawful motive, there is also direct evidence of unlawful motive in the statements made by [Larry]Cunningham...If Cunningham had been misquoted or misunderstood, the District could have called him to testify; indeed, the record was left open for that very purpose. But the District did nothing."

From the Joyce Abrams' November 23, 2011 PERB decision against Chula Vista
Elementary School District:



November 23, 2011


California Teachers Association by Brenda B. Sutton-Wills, Attorney, for Joyce
Singer Abrams;

Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost by Susan B. Winkelman, Attorney, for Chula Vista Elementary School District.

Before Martinez, Chair; McKeag and Dowdin Calvillo, Members

November 23, 2011

...Accordingly, the Board adopts
the proposed decision as the
decision of the Board itself, as
supplemented by the following
discussion of the District’s

For reasons explained below,
however, the Board does not
adopt the AL’s proposed order
and notice...

At all relevant times here,
members of the BTSA Advisory
Board were: (1) Lebron; (2) CVE
President Peg Myers (Myers); (3)
Katy Croy, a Point Loma
Nazarene University
representative; and (4) Principal
Tom Glover.
In another part of the record the
composition of the BTSA Advisory
Board is
described as including Kathleen
Fernandez, a teacher...

Abrams’ 2007-2008 Term and
Reapplication for the 2008-2009

Abrams served as a BTSA
Induction Program SP for the
eighth consecutive school year
during the 2007-2008 term She
entered into an SP agreement for
that term on or about
September 10, 2007, agreeing to
adhere to the SP agreement and
the BTSA SP Guidelines.

The BTSA Advisory Board met on
July 16, 2008. The Advisory Board
reviewed the
reapplications and the logs kept
by the SP’s documenting how
often they met with their PT’s.
The Advisory Board determined
that 14 of the SP re-applicants,
including Abrams, had not met
the one-hour per week meeting

Lebron testified about the August
11, 2008, meeting with Abrams as
Q Did you tell her that the logs
were incorrect and that you
would fix them?
A Not that I would fix them. I told
her that, yes, they were

Sometime thereafter,
Lebron met with Cruz for
approximately 45 minutes to
review the logs of these re-
Lebron testified that after
reviewing the logs with Cruz, she
continued to believe that the
Advisory Board’s original
determination was correct. The
Cabinet, however, ultimately
reinstated all but two of the 14
re-applicants who initially had
been told by the Advisory
Board that they had not been
renewed for the 2008-2009
term. Cruz testified that Dennis
Gascon (Gascon) was the only
other SP besides Abrams
who was not reinstated by the

The fifth qualification listed in
the BTSA SP Guidelines, which
requires the SP to be either a
permanent or retired teacher
in the District, was omitted
from the Notice.

By letter dated September 17,
2008, Cruz informed Abrams that
she was not selected
for the 2008-2009 school year.
The letter contained no
explanation of the basis for the

Abrams filed level I and level II
grievances on October 3, 2008,
and a second level II
grievance on October 14, 2008.
By letter dated October 16, 2008,
Cruz dismissed Abrams’
grievances on the ground that,
as a retired teacher, Abrams
was no longer covered by the

Myers had earlier decided not to
file a grievance on behalf of the 14
BTSA SPs whose
reapplications had been denied
because it was her understanding
that the District was going to follow
through with her recommendation
that they all be reinstated.

On November 10, 2008, at 9:41 a.
m., Cunningham left the following
telephone message
on Abrams’ answering machine:

Joyce, this is Larry again. I’ve
been in LA for the last five days,
but give me a, give me a call on my
cell phone. It’s probably the
easiest place to get a hold of me,
[phone number omitted]. I
talked to Lowell [Billings] and Tom
[Cruz], and it really comes
down to the point that they just
wanted to go in a different
direction. I mean, they felt that,
you know, you’ve always been
very negative about what the
District did and where they were
going and what direction they were
going in, so they just felt they
wanted to go in a different
direction. And so that’s what they
told me about it. So, if you want to
discuss it further, give me a call,
but that’s what I got from it. Talk to
you later. Bye.

On November 12, 2008, Abrams
spoke to Cunningham by
telephone. Admitted into
evidence at the hearing was a
note Abrams made memorializing
their conversation:

I stated that I had given my heart
and soul to the CVESD for 39
years. That, in all of those years of
employment, not once was
there a reference to my negativity
in any evaluation that I had
received. He said he thought that
it was in reference to my
association and activism in the
union, CVE.

I stated I thought there were laws
against being retaliated against
because of my union participation.

I have been singled out and
discriminated against.

...At the hearing, Cruz testified
that the Cabinet did not renew
Abrams’ SP position solely
because of her interpersonal
skills. In response to a question
from the ATJ inquiring into the
nature of the Cabinet’s concern
about Abrams’ interpersonal skills,
Cruz testified in pertinent part:

So the five executive directors and
the superintendent are actually
in those classrooms on a regular
basis. And it was from, many of
those folks had brought up
concerns about her positive
nature on
matters, how she, her outlook and
support of the District. And
there were concerns that she
may not be conveying the kinds of
messages to our new teachers
that we would prefer, because
her interpersonal skills were
abrasive and short whenever
others had interaction with her

During the 2007-2008 school
year, however, no individuals at
the Cabinet level had
observed Abrams in either her
teaching or SP role.
Prior to the 2007-2008 school
year, two of these individuals had
observed Abrams in
her classroom on occasion. As
there is no dispute that Abrams
was renewed for the 2007-2008
school year, it must be concluded
that whatever classroom
observations there might have
prior to the 2007-2008 school
year, none were found to be

When asked to elaborate on
Abrams’ interpersonal skills during
cross-examination, Cruz further

As far as, and I’m using global
generalizations, she didn’t seem
to be happy or content with the
School District, critical about
the District about management
this, or principal this, or
teachers this.

It just seemed that Joyce was
not a happy positive person in
her interactions with the adults.

In contrast to Cruz’s testimony that
Abrams "was not a happy positive
person in her interactions with
adults," the direct documentary
and testimonial evidence on
this point supports the
opposite conclusion as a
factual matter. Performance
evaluations date-stamped in
Human Resources on January 5,
2006, September 21, 2004, June
24, 2002, September 5,
2000, May 20, 1998, and June 1,
1994 were received into

Emily Claypool (Claypool) was
Abrams’ PT in 2000. Claypool
testified that Abrams
was friendly, supportive,
knowledgeable and available. She
considered Abrams to be her
mentor, and a strong advocate for

The ALJ concluded that the
preponderance of the evidence
showed that the District had an
unlawful motive in denying
Abrams' SP reapplication for the
2008-2009 school year within
the meaning of EERA section
3543.5, subdivision (a). In its
exceptions, the District contends
that Abrams did not meet her
prima facie burden; that the AL’s
proposed decision is not
supported by the evidentiary
record; and that the ALJ’s
proposed remedy is not

Here, as the ALJ found, there is
ample circumstantial evidence
of unlawful motive.
Regarding the timing of the
adverse action, the District is
correct that Abrams had been
involved in her union for a long
time without incident. There may
not have been a single
triggering event. As the ALJ
observed, Abrams continued to
serve as a member of CVE’s
board of directors until just prior to
the denial of her reapplication. It is
worth noting that the
first time the District denied a
reapplication of Abrams was
immediately upon Abrams’
retirement and loss of active union
membership and membership on
the CVE board of directors.

In addition to all of the above
circumstantial evidence of unlawful
motive, there is also
direct evidence of unlawful motive
in the statements made by

On top of all this, Abrams testified without contradiction that District board member
Cunningham, explaining the District’s denial of her reapplication, told her that the District found her "very negative," and he thought "it was in reference to [her] association and [her] activism with the Union." If Cunningham had been misquoted or misunderstood, the District could have called him to testify; indeed, the record was left open for that very purpose. But the District did nothing.

Even as hearsay, Cunningham’s statements to Abrams were admissible to corroborate
the other evidence of retaliation. (PERB Reg. 32176.)2

Furthermore, as admissions of a party, the statements are also admissible as independent evidence of retaliation. (Evidence Code, § 1220.)
In short, the preponderance of evidence shows that the District denied Abrams’
reapplication to be a support provider because of her union activity, and for no other reason.

The District is therefore found to have retaliated against Abrams in violation of EERA section 3 543.5(a), as alleged in the PERB complaint

PERB Decision No. 2221 Case No. LA-CE-5289-E