Wednesday, July 24, 2013

CVESD Teacher Accused of Luring Children Online

In my experience, school politics plays a huge role in protecting bad teachers. There was an incident involving this teacher several years ago.

Teacher Accused of Luring Children Online
By Nicole Gonzales and Monica Garske
NBC 7 San Diego
Dec 1, 2012

John Kinloch, a first grade teacher at Wolf Canyon Elementary School in Chula Vista, is accused of luring children online. NBC 7's Nicole Gonzales reports on his arrest and gets reaction from parents and the school district.

A local elementary school teacher was arrested Friday morning on felony charges involving allegedly luring children online.

Suspect John Kinloch, 41, is a first grade teacher at Wolf Canyon Elementary in Chula Vista. He’s been teaching for the past 14 years.

Federal agents believe the veteran teacher lured children online in order to obtain nude pictures of minors. Kinloch is now being held at San Diego Central Jail on three felonies involving minors.

On Friday, the Chula Vista Elementary School District handed out 900 letters informing parents of Kinloch’s arrest. The letter reassured parents that none of their students were targeted and none of the alleged crimes were committed on campus.

The news left both the school district and parents in disbelief.

“It hurts me that the kids have established a relationship with this teacher, so I'm really going to be asking some questions,” said Wolf Canyon parent Denise Roldan. “My kids [have] only mentioned him a couple of times. They say he was a cool teacher; kids were really happy with him.”

Anthony Millican of the Chula Vista Elementary School District said Kinloch’s arrest came as a complete surprise, especially since there were never any red flags concerning the teacher.

“There's nothing in the individual's file to indicate anything of this nature, thus [we’re feeling] a sense of surprise and concern and shock,” said Millican.

The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force says Kinloch posed as a 13-year-old girl online.

He has allegedly been in contact with boys between the ages of 12 and 16, getting them to send him nude photographs and videos.

In addition, Kinloch is accused of selling or sending the obscene materials.

Now, the well-liked teacher is under investigation and on administrative leave from his position.

“Anyone who harms children isn’t someone we want in our system,” said Millican.

Kinloch’s neighbors say the teacher was not married, lived at home with his mother and generally kept to himself.

He’s scheduled to appear in court and face a judge on Dec. 7.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Local 6th grader told he cannot take 8th grade algebra: School says boy would be truant

Chula Vista Elementarty School District supports teachers who teach math at only one level; a good teacher can teach at several levels at once.

Local 6th grader told he cannot take 8th grade algebra: School says boy would be truant
Parents say son passed algebra readiness test
Joe Little
10 News

A Chula Vista 6th grader has been told he will be truant if he goes to an 8th grade algebra class instead of his own grade level class.

10News was contacted by Myssie McCann shortly after she was told her 11-year-old son Grant would be punished for not attending Salt Creek Elementary's math classes.

"Never dawned on me in a million years that Chula Vista Elementary School District would say, 'No, you can't do this,'" McCann told 10News. "I was told by the principal [Lalaine Perez] that she was obligated to tell me that if I pursued him taking the Eastlake Middle algebra class, my son would be marked truant on those days."

McCann said Grant has excelled at math since 2nd grade. She said last year, the then-5th grader was placed in a 6th grade math course. This summer, McCann said he passed an 8th grade algebra readiness test.

Grant's parents contacted the nearby Eastlake Middle School, where Grant will be going for 7th and 8th grades to see if he can attend algebra classes. He would then go back to Salt Creek for all his other courses.

McCann said she petitioned the school district. She contacted 10News after she was told her son would be marked as "truant."

"I was not happy," McCann said. "I told her that was unacceptable."

Grant was not happy either.

"It would be challenging for me because when I'm not challenged, math is actually boring," the soon-to-be 6th grader said.

Grant's father is John McCann, who sits on the Sweetwater Union Board of Trustees.

Monday evening, a spokesman for the Chula Vista Elementary School District told 10News the district does not have a process in place for students like Grant to take classes out of district.

He said the district is looking at it and will make a decision on Tuesday just in time for school, which begins Wednesday.

The school district released the following statement to 10News:

"We were asked to make special considerations for the child of a Board Member in a neighboring district. We believe it is wiser to establish a process that would benefit any student in that circumstance, rather than just a one-time exception for the benefit of the child of an elected official. The public does not like special considerations for elected officials. So we will work with our counterparts in Sweetwater to establish a process for independent study agreements that would allow for any qualifying students in the elementary district to take classes in the middle or high school district. Our student-based decisions will be backed up by data. They will not be made on word of mouth or handshake agreements with elected officials in another district."

From cop to superintendent, Francisco Escobedo now runs CVESD

See all Francisco Escobedo posts.

From cop to superintendent
Allison K. Sampite
Chula Vista Star-News
Aug 27 2010

New Chula Vista Elementary School District superintendent Francisco Escobedo.

For those who know Francisco Escobedo, the newly appointed superintendent for the Chula Vista Elementary School District, they recognize his dedication to excellence in serving more than 20 years in education. But not many people know his career path came at a crossroads in his life.

Escobedo grew up in the upper west side of Manhattan in New York City and lived there for 17 years. During this time, his heart belonged to science and he received his degree in biology at Yale University, with an interest in forensics. "The East Coast was tough," he said. "We lived a few blocks from Hell's Kitchen in the most drug-infested area at the time."

Escobedo's parents encouraged him to focus on education. His father, born and raised in Mexico, and, mother, born and raised in Puerto Rico, met as immigrants in New York. "My parents did the best with what they had, and they knew the value of education," he said. "The teachers I had were almost like my surrogate parents."

At 23, Escobedo moved to the West Coast.

He became a police officer in San Diego two years later, but that job lasted only a year. Escobedo admits that seeing children's cadavers was too difficult for him. A colleague at the time suggested Escobedo would be an ideal teacher, noticing his counseling skills during youth arrests.

"Those words burned in my heart," Escobedo said. "I took the week off and went to UCSD. I decided I wanted to become a high school science teacher, but there weren't any positions available."

Escobedo began teaching kindergarten in the South Bay district and in 1988 became an aide at Valley Vista. "Being a teacher and educator truly was never something I wanted to do until that moment in time ... and then when my partner said that, I knew it was what I needed to do," he said.

Matthew Tessier is the director of technology and student assessment in the National school district and has known Escobedo for nearly 10 years. Escobedo was the principal at Feaster-Edison Charter School when Tessier was a third grade teacher.

"Escobedo bases a lot of his decisions on data, which is a good way to spend money appropriately," Tessier said. Escobedo said one of the challenges he faces is decreased enrollment in the South Bay.

In the last eight to nine years, Escobedo said the South Bay has been steadily losing 200 students a year. "When coupled with the state revenue decline it's double jeopardy," he said.

Escobedo said it's important to never lose touch with the classroom. Each week he visits two to five schools to meet with principals, go to classrooms and talk with teachers to ensure that plans and initiatives are being applied.

"It's been a difficult yet enjoyable experience, but it's something I have a passion for," Escobedo said. "I've seen how education has transformed my life and I want to offer the same thing for all students."

Escobedo will take over for retiring Superintendent Lowell J. Billings who will leave in December.

In accepting the new position, he will become responsible for the largest elementary school district in the state with 44 schools serving approximately 27,000 students.

Escobedo's last day at South Bay Union district, where he makes $144,000 a year, is Oct. 29.

When he takes over at Chula Vista it's not clear what his salary will be, though it won't be more than Billings' annual $247,000 salary, Escobedo said.

Peevey, supposed to be neutral, pushed secretly for Pio Pico

Update July 23, 2013:

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) website shows that President Michael R. Peevey (above photo) is still in charge.

Peevey, supposed to be neutral, pushed secretly for Pio Pico
CPUC head requested another agency to write a letter to help SDGE
Don Bauder
San Diego Reader
February 27, 2013

Tomorrow (Feb. 28, 2013), the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) votes on whether to permit San Diego Gas & Electric to push ahead with three gas-fired power plants. The most important is Pio Pico in the Otay area. But, it is very clear from evidence, one person who is supposed to be an impartial adjudicator in the decision, Michael Peevey, head of the CPUC, has been secretly pushing for it. San Diego attorney Todd Cardiff, through a document request, learned that Peevey contacted Robert Weissenmiller, head of the California Energy Commission, urging Weissenmiller to write a letter in support of Pio Pico. On December 6, Weissenmiller wrote a letter to a colleague saying "Peevey wants a letter from me" to push Pio Pico while San Onofre is out of commission. The same day, one Kevin Barker said in an email "Bob [Weissenmiller] was asked today to support Pio Pico...."

Cardiff wants Peevey to recuse himself from tomorrow's vote. Says Cardiff, "We find it absolutely outrageous that the president of the CPUC, who is supposed to be sitting in a quasi-judicial manner over the project approvals, has clandestinely requested another agency file a letter in support of the project. This is a very serious violation of due process and brings into question the very integrity of the CPUC board." Cardiff adds, "Peevey's actions were designed to have the maximum influence on not only the public, but on fellow commissioners, because they wouldn't know the source of the letter."

Earlier, I had a blog item showing that CPUC Commissioner Carla Peterman had been a lead author of a report showing that Pio Pico was necessary. Initially, she said she should not vote in the matter because of an obvious conflict. But then she changed her position because of "evolving legal advice."

Cardiff wants both Peevey and Peterman to recuse themselves. I would go further, and stress this is my opinion, not Cardiff's. There is plenty of evidence, revealed many times in the Reader, showing that Peevey should be removed from the CPUC by Governor Brown. Peterman, a new appointee, has time to change her ways. The public is increasingly aware of the CPUC's pro-utility, anti-consumer bias, and deeply inculcated corruption.


Don Bauder Feb. 28, 2013 @ 3:32 p.m.

CPUC DELAYS DECISION. The CPUC today (Feb. 28) delayed its decision on SDGE's push to get the Pio Pico plant approved. However, the commission turned down Todd Cardiff's attempt to get Peevey and Peterman to recuse themselves from the decision because of blatant bias.

Saturday, July 20, 2013


See previous story on this school HERE.

Students at school that opens next week will try out some new concepts
By Caroline Dipping
JULY 18, 2013

Principal Dan Winters describes himself as Camarena’s CEO, or chief encouragement officer.

About 900 students are enrolled in Enrique Camarena Elementary School, which opens next week in Otay Ranch. hool!]

CHULA VISTA — When the new Enrique S. Camarena Elementary School opens next week, one of the first things students will learn is that they can write on their classroom walls and desks. And they won’t get sent to the principal’s office because it was he who led the charge to make it possible.

The walls of the 36 classrooms are swathed in a special paint that mimics a whiteboard, where pen markings easily wipe away with a dry cloth. Student desks are also of a durable fabrication that can withstand the punishment of spelling tests and math calculations.

“The concept is that you want to use the materials you have,” said Principal Dan Winters. “I mean, talk eco-friendly.

“Think of all the paper you don’t need to use. When kids do some work that needs to be saved, they can take a picture of it with their digital device.”

Welcome to Camarena Elementary, the first new campus to be built in the Chula Vista Elementary School District since 2007. Where chalkboards and text books are so last century and digital devices such as iPads, Chromebooks and Android tablets will be the tools to help students, particularly those in the upper grades, learn their core subjects.

Winters, 50, has been in the Chula Vista district nine years, most recently as principal of Salt Creek Elementary. In January, he was selected to be Camarena’s inaugural principal, a role he has embraced wholeheartedly.

Describing himself as the school’s CEO (Chief Encouragement Officer), Winters said he wants to create among his handpicked staff a professional, collaborative culture like Google and Facebook where everyone works together. With literacy as the foundation, the curriculum will include elements of project-based learning, dual immersion, and technology.

Winters’ vision for staff, students and community is so straightforward he fit it on his business cards: “We are a neighborhood school developing digital literacy in a multilingual, creative environment.”

“It starts with literacy,” he said. “It is still the foundation, and common core standards are coming next year and they give credence to the fact primary literacy is still how we do things.

“And digital means literacy in our current environment whereby kids learn how to use digital tools effectively to get information to share and which to communicate.”

Although it has yet to crack a single textbook, digital or otherwise, Camarena Elementary is already poised to do a booming business. Located in the Otay Ranch Village 11 area — at 1650 Exploration Falls Drive, to be precise — the 11.85-acre campus has capacity for 975 students in kindergarten through sixth grade. Currently, 900 are enrolled.

The school district purchased the property for $2.7 million in 2008 but did not have the money to build. It wasn’t until last spring that the district was able to break ground, the estimated $30 million construction costs coming from CFD/Mello-Roos special tax assessments.

Also last spring, the school board approved the Camarena name for the school to commemorate the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent who was kidnapped and killed in 1985 while on assignment in Mexico. By November, the ceremonial last beam was placed in position during a particularly festive “topping out” ceremony, where it was noted that contractor Balfour Beatty Construction was ahead of schedule.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Sweetwater/Alliant deal tinged with cronyism

Movement on Alliant partnership includes pizza party; no public records
By Susan Luzzaro
San Diego Reader
June 29, 2013

Does Sweetwater Union High School District superintendent Ed Brand have something to hide regarding the memorandum of understanding between Alliant International University and the district?

Why else would he have stonewalled public record requests to see the memorandum from community advocate Maty Adato since May 16 and the San Diego Reader since April 23? Both requests asked to see the memorandum of understanding between Alliant and Sweetwater, among other things.

A letter composed and signed by Brand was sent to Adato and the Reader, saying that the requested information would be ready on June 28. The day came and no records were produced, and emails and phone calls to the clerk of the board were not returned.

The district’s deal with Alliant is tinged with cronyism.

Brand obtained his degree from United States International University (USIU) in 1983. One of Brand’s good buddies is former Sweetwater coach Gary Zarecky. Zarecky left Sweetwater to become the men’s basketball coach and assistant athletic director at USIU/Alliant in 1985. He remained a

Brand brought Zarecky down in 2011 and gave him a $35,000 contract to work on his Funds for Education Committee. The committee, which was going to squeeze funds out of district vendors, was disbanded.

Observers have speculated that Zarecky, who currently coaches at DeAnza College, will play a part in the partnership with an Alliant sports program or with the new breakaway California Interscholastic (CIF) section that the U-T wrote about in May.

When the Alliant memorandum of understanding was brought before the Sweetwater trustees in May, board member Bertha Lopez questioned various clauses in the agreement. She read aloud a section that sounded more like a musing than an MOU: “Will Alliant or Sweetwater manage and control an athletic program? Will Alliant fund it or will Sweetwater fund it? Will they [Alliant] allow admission to CIF Section ll?”

Another longtime friend of Brand’s, Sweetwater economics teacher Tom Hassey, held a pizza party June 27. Hassey bought pizza for students and former students while representatives from Alliant were in attendance, presumably so they could answer potential students’ questions.

Hassey and Brand attempted to start a bank together in 2008.

According to the Alliant International website, the annual tuition for the not-for-profit university is $16,350. Brand told trustees at a May 13 board meeting that the Sweetwater/Alliant program will be open to students with a 2.0 grade-point average and that various tuition benefits will be conferred to Sweetwater students or graduates. He also advised that students who established need could apply for federal assistance (FAFSA) loans.