Saturday, October 31, 2015

Florin High and most other schools maintain secrecy, keep voters in the dark about what is going on

Most public schools are desperate to keep the public from knowing about problems in schools. School board members' primary goal is to present a smooth, unruffled surface to the public, and to hide the serious problems lurking underneath that surface. They expect administrators to make sure this happens. 

Why is it so important to schools to cover-up problems? Two reasons:

1) Board members want to get reelected;
2) Board members and administrators and teachers want to make their jobs as easy as possible.

I have said for years that school board elections are a farce because the public doesn't know what is going on in schools.

Schools do NOT have a legal right to stop students from talking about matters of public interest.

 “I don’t want this to become a First Amendment rights issue..." said one Florin High administrator. No, of course not. Schools want the right to keep secrets.

 Florin High’s punishment of student whose video went viral draws free speech questions
By Loretta Kalb and Diana Lambert
Sacramento Bee
October 29, 2015

After Florin High School suspended a student who recorded a cafeteria melee this week on her cell phone, free speech experts said Friday that administrators may have overreached by disciplining someone who captured video in a public gathering place. The video recorded by Tiana Johnson, 15, quickly went viral, airing on “Inside Edition” and landing on several national news media sites.

It brought unwanted attention to the campus, where Principal Don Ross decried the negative light cast on the school and called it “hurtful” to students. Johnson received a three-day suspension for recording the fight, filing “inflammatory” remarks on social media and declining to “write a statement” about her actions, according to school paperwork.

[Maura Larkins' comment: Could that video threaten the Principal's job security? Is that why the student is being punished?]

That disciplinary move drew questions from Johnson’s parents and free speech experts.

 “She had a right to be where she was and she took the video and she posted it online,” said Jim Ewert, general counsel for the California Newspaper Publishers Association. He noted that the cafeteria was crowded and not private. “That’s protected activity. To the extent that she’s being disciplined for having done that, it violates state law.”...

Just four days after the Florin incident, student video that appeared to show a McClatchy High School teacher wrestling a student from his desk to the ground resulted in the teacher’s arrest on Friday.

[Maura Larkins' comment:  If this video had not been made, would this assault by a teacher have been concealed? I have seen many illegal actions concealed in Chula Vista Elementary School District. Many, if not most, school districts violate the law to protect officials and teachers who have political influence.]

 During Monday’s altercation, a student slammed [Florin High principal] Ross to the floor of the cafeteria as he tried to break up the fight. Three students – two 15-year-olds and a 13-year-old – were arrested and sent to juvenile hall. They have not been identified because they are minors.

Johnson started her suspension Friday, four days after the brawl that involved eight to 10 students. After Ross was thrown to the floor, he jumped back up in an effort to restrain his assailant. He and two other school officials suffered minor injuries.

The district’s order of Johnson’s home suspension came Monday afternoon and was shared with The Bee by a family member. It complains that Johnson disrupted school activities “and otherwise willfully defied the valid authority” of those engaged in performing their duties. The details of the decision do not cite the specific language of the school handbook that she is accused of violating. District officials said they are unable to comment on any disciplinary action. The 90-page student handbook does bar students from using electronic devices to make audio and/or video recordings that infringe upon the privacy rights of students and or staff. It makes no mention of social media. But it says parents may appeal a suspension.

Keith Mims, coordinator of student support and health services for the Elk Grove Unified School District, said he did not want the discussion to focus on freedom of expression. “I don’t want this to become a First Amendment rights issue as opposed to safety,” he said.

[Maura Larkins' comment: Isn't it secrecy that the school is worried about in this case, not safety?]

“The school was embarrassed,” Johnson said. He said that he and his daughter wondered if she would have faced suspension if she had recorded something that put the school in a positive light. 

 Read more here:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Chula Vista bully Cheryl Cox joins Ben Hueso for anti-bully posturing

Perhaps one of the reasons that schools fail to stop bullying is that many of the individuals charged with stopping it are bullies themselves. Cheryl Cox is a prime example. She authorized $100,000s of tax dollars to pay lawyers to cover up bullying by teachers at Castle Park Elementary. When the bullying got worse and worse, the district finally decided to transfer bullies and their supporters. Then the bullies turned on the very people who had helped them.

March 14 2011
Assemblymember Calling For Bullying Awareness in California Schools

Today Assemblymember Ben Hueso announces a state resolution (ACR 22) to declare March as California School Bullying Awareness Month. The resolution urges school districts to discuss the issue of bullying and methods of preventing it in California schools. Hueso will be joined by Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox, Dr. Francisco Escobedo, Superintendent of Chula Vista Elementary School District, and Otay Elementary School’s first and fifth grade students and parents.

“School bullying statistics show that 77% of students are bullied mentally, verbally and physically almost on a daily basis. These statistics are increasingly viewed as an important contributor to youth violence, including homicide and suicide. In fact, bullying statistics point to revenge as the strongest motivator for school shootings,” said Hueso. “Commemorating March as California School Bullying Awareness Month is an important step to ensure that this issue stays at the forefront of discussions in schools, local communities and at the Capitol.”

ACR 22 will be presented on the Assembly Floor Friday, March 25 by Hueso along with students from El Toyon Elementary School, located in National City, CA.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Can you spot the applicant without an agenda among the 23 applicants for CVESD board appointment?


[Photo: CVESD board in November 2008]

The following post is taken from San Diego Education Report:

Is there an applicant on the list below who has the courage to stand up to corrupt CVESD attorney Dan Shinoff and his loyal board members?

Board members Pamela Smith and Larry Cunningham are Mr. Shinoff's longtime champions, and have approved his many illegal actions on their behalf. In fact, Shinoff gets paid to intimidate whistleblowers and anyone else who threatens to reveal the shady side of CVESD.

MiraCosta College trustees got a big sampling of Shinoff's techniques on June 20, 2007 when Mr. Shinoff worked long into the night pressuring unwilling trustees to sign a $1.6 million settlement for his pal President Victoria Richart.

Perhaps Mr. Shinoff wanted to keep Victoria Richart happy so she would remain silent about his role in the $1.5 million investigation $305 worth of stolen palm trees.

The $1.5 million spent on the investigation by Shinoff and Richart, some of which went to Shinoff, was not expended because they and the board were interested in palm trees. The once-enormous collection of palm trees has dwindled severely: the few trees that have not died of neglect are now barely clinging to life. The real reason that Shinoff and Richart spent $1.5 million in taxpayer dollars was to wage war against the MiraCosta faculty and administrators who supported them.

Perhaps Mr. Shinoff simply wanted to reward Ms. Richart for her work. This explanation would be consistent with the theory that Daniel Shinoff uses "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu as his guide in the practice of law. In this theoretical scenario, Mr. Shinoff would have been guided by chapter II, paragraph 16 in Sun Tzu's book: "Now in order to kill the enemy, our men must be roused to anger; that there may be advantage from defeating the enemy, they must have their rewards." If you want loyal soldiers in your war against your enemy (in this case, the enemy was the faculty), you must reward them, right?

Unfortunately, Shinoff and Richart ignored the Sun Tzu's warning: "...if the campaign is protracted, the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain."

But getting back to the choice that Shinoff's pals on the CVESD board will soon be making:

Who is there on the list below who has the desire and the strength to say no to Daniel Shinoff's illegal games? I don't know. It would be nice if such a person would identify himself/herself to Chris Moran at the San Diego Union Tribune. This might cause Pamela Smith and Larry Cunningham to immediately nix the applicant's appointment, but it would put the applicant in a good spot for the next election. At that time such a person might unseat Pamela Smith or Larry Cunningham.

School board gets 23 applications for single vacancy

By Chris Moran
San Diego Union Tribune
January 3, 2009

CHULA VISTA — The Chula Vista Elementary School District has received 23 applications to fill a vacant seat on the five-member school board...

Trustee Bertha Lopez vacated her Chula Vista board seat last month after her election to the Sweetwater Union High School District board...

San Ysidro High School Principal Hector Espinoza

former Montgomery High School Principal Mary Anne Stro

former teachers union presidents Frank Cherry and Leroy Petty...

former Chula Vista PTA President Carol Green...

Myllissa McCann, wife of Chula Vista Councilman John McCann...

Douglas Luffborough, executive director of a social-services agency in Chula Vista...

Pamela Bauer-Fischer, attorney.

Jolyn DePriest, former teacher and counselor.

James Doud, former water district board president.

Beatrice Fernandez, San Diego Unified School District parent involvement coordinator.

Mel Lopez, former Chula Vista assistant superintendent.

Hector Martinez, water district manager.

Perry Mathes, cardiovascular engineer for General Electric.

Archie McAllister, substitute teacher.

David McLellan, former telecommunications company employee.

Aurora Murillo-Clark, property manager.

Edalia Olivo-Gomez, environmental specialist for San Diego Gas & Electric Co.

Christopher Shilling, public safety director for Otay Ranch Town Center.

Christian Slike, IBM marketing leader.

Felicia Starr, hospital secretary.

John Vogel, information systems analyst for the city of San Diego.

David Wallace, Chula Vista business owner...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Vietnam school officials control teachers with cruder methods and more demands than US school leaders

Vietnam whistle-blower suffers for war on graft
Dec 27, 2008
HANOI, Vietnam

The thugs came after dark, as Do Viet Khoa and his family were getting ready for bed.

He says they punched him, kicked him, stole his camera and terrified his wife and children.

Khoa, a high school math and geography teacher, thinks the message was clear: Stop blowing the whistle on school corruption - or else.

For several years, Khoa has been fighting the petty bribery and cheating that plagues schools across Vietnam, where poorly paid teachers and administrators squeeze money out of even poorer parents.

Vietnam's leaders approved a sweeping anti-corruption law in 2005, but implementation is uneven. The country still ranks poorly on global corruption surveys, and for ordinary Vietnamese, who treasure education, school corruption is perhaps the most infuriating of all.

Few dare to fight it, for fear of retaliation.

A slight, ordinary-looking man from a farming village, 40-year-old Khoa made a dramatic entrance onto the national scene two years ago. He videotaped students cheating on their high school graduation exams while their teachers watched and did nothing. State-owned TV stations played the tape repeatedly.

With TV cameras in tow, Vietnam's education minister went to Khoa's house to hand him a certificate praising his courage. Khoa appeared on Vietnam's version of the Larry King show. The principal of the Van Tao High School, where Khoa has taught since 2000, was transferred.

But back in his farming village of Van Hoa, about 15 miles outside Hanoi, Khoa got anything but a hero's welcome.

Teachers and administrators resented the unflattering spotlight. Even among parents and students, who stood to gain most from Khoa's efforts, few came to his defense.

All the parents wanted was to get their children through school and into jobs, even if they had to cheat to pass their exams, Khoa said.

"The entire community has shunned me," Khoa said. "They harass me on the phone, they send me letters. They say I put my thirst for fame ahead of their children's welfare. Some of them even threatened to kill me."

Thinh Van Nam, 27, a teacher at the school, thinks Khoa has brought his problems on himself.

"Khoa says we isolated him, but it is not true," Nam said. "When someone feels ostracized by his peers, he needs to ask himself why."

Matters escalated last month, when the four men came to Khoa's house - two of them guards at his school, according to news reports. Police are still investigating.

Khoa has also run afoul of the new principal, Le Xuan Trung, after sending a letter to national and local officials alleging that Trung imposed various unfair fees to enrich school staff at parents' expense.

One of Khoa's biggest complaints is the "extra classes" implemented at his school and others across the country, in which regular school teachers tutor students for money.

"If they don't go, the teachers give them bad grades," said Khoa.

A teacher can triple a salary by packing students into the sessions. These cost parents about $6 a week - nearly as much as they earn farming rice.

Principal Trung did not respond to an interview request. But he was quoted in the People's Police newspaper as saying enrollment in the classes is voluntary.

Trung reportedly said Khoa "did not always concentrate on his teaching and follow the school regulations," and "he used his camera and recorder too much, so people did not feel comfortable talking to him."

One man defending the teacher is Vu Van Thuc, whose son goes to the school. "He is raising his voice against these absurd requirements imposed by the school," he said.

"He is really brave," said Giang Xuan Dung, a math teacher. "I admire him for his courage and patience."

Other schools have offered to hire Khoa.

"I thought we should support him," said Van Nhu Cuong, a Hanoi headmaster who tried to hire him. "We really need people who dare to speak out."

Khoa refused because the school is too far from his home.

His wife, Nguyen Thi Nga, worries about her husband's crusade.

"This has caused us a lot of stress," she said. "I wish everyone would join the fight against corruption so that we wouldn't be the odd ones out."

No matter what happens, Khoa said, he won't stop fighting to uphold the ideals of honesty and integrity promoted by the communist revolutionaries who freed Vietnam from colonial rule.

"Many teachers are soiling the image of education," he said. "Corruption is a betrayal of communist ideology and of the country."

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Patrick Judd loses, Bertha Lopez wins in CVESD

Russell Coronado takes Judd's seat in Chula Vista Elementary School District.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Maura Larkins finally provides us with a summary of her case against CVESD

Here's a summary written by Maura Larkins about her case against Chula Vista Elementary School District:

Here's a summary of what happened in my case:

Many people have told me that my case is so complicated that they simply don't understand it. They have asked for a summary, and here it is.

Maura Larkins v. CVESD was the result of an odd confluence of circumstances, and at the same time it was a typical event in the system that prevails at many schools across the United States. This system values politics and personal loyalty among adults over the duty to educate and protect children.


I had been teaching at Chula Vista Elementary
School District
for 27 years when the problem began.
It started with a family problem: I was
co-administrator of my father's estate,
and one of my brothers was secretly
unhappy about it. He and his ex-wife decided
to use the police to remove me from my position.


I was removed from my classroom
on February 12, 2001 due to a false police report
(see "A False Police Report" on this page)
made by my mentally-ill and substance-abusing
ex-sister-in-law. However, the district didn't
want to admit this, since using the
illegally-obtained police report
(no charges were filed against me)
was a misdemeanor.


There is no chance that the district
would have been charged with a crime
for its silly little misdemeanor
(Labor Code section 432.7), but the district
decided it would rather spend $100,000s
of tax dollars to pay its lawyers to cover up the mistake
than to simply admit it made a mistake.


The reason given by the district for my removal was that
two teachers had called assistant superintendent Richard Werlin
at home on a Saturday evening and said they believed
I might be about to kill them.
Oddly, the district
created NO DOCUMENT at this time to explain
the reason I was removed from my classroom,
nor did it investigate the alarming report.


Within a month, the district changed its story,
saying that only one teacher, Jo Ellen Hamilton,
had called Richard Werlin about me. Hamilton later
testified under oath that she had simply called
Werlin at his invitation to discuss a planned meeting.


On April 3, 2001 I sent a
fax to the district. The next day I was abruptly
asked to return to work, and at the
same time the district belatedly
prepared a document to explain why
I had been removed from my classroom
in the first place. The document
contained a new, completely false
accusation by Richard Werlin and
never mentioned the teacher reports.


I went back to teach in April 2001 because
it seemed clear that my accusers had
been deemed unreliable (either crazy
or dishonest or some combination of the two),
and I assumed that the fabricated excuse in
Richard Werlin's document , was merely
an effort by an embarrassed human resources director
to cover up his mistake.

But I was wrong. It was more than a cover-up;
it was, in fact, a set-up.


A week after returning, Linda Watson, one of the
who had accused me earlier,
and a new accuser who made a written report,
came forward with bizarre allegations.


I did not know it at the time, but the teachers
union, Chula Vista Educators, was
working with my accuser Linda Watson. CVE President
Gina Boyd had worked at my school until 1995, and
although she did not share the motivations
of her friends
at Castle Park Elementary,
she was running for reelection and felt she
needed to keep them happy in order to win.
This effort was supported by California Teachers
Association Board of Directors member Jim Groth.

Richard Werlin, with the approval of the cabinet
(including Libia Gil and Lowell Billings),
had triggered an all-out hysteria at my school.
Two staff members told me that many teachers were afraid
that I was "going to come to school and shoot everybody.”


Without making any effort to
establish that a Columbine-type
event was not in the offing, the
district demanded that I come back
to work in September of 2001. This
time I refused.

My lawyer demanded an investigation
to clear my name and cool down the crucible
that Castle Park Elementary had become, but
the district refused. It was clear that anyone
could make any accusation against me, and it
would be believed and acted on: I was not
safe at work.


Attorney Mark Bresee, who was then working with
Parham & Rajcic and was recently chosen as chief counsel
for Terry Grier at SDUSD, had been giving legal advice
to CVESD up to this point.

When I filed a tort claim on October 4, 2001, attorney Diane Crosier and claims adjuster Rodger Hartnett of San Diego County Office of Education Joint Powers Authority, along with their favorite attorney, Daniel Shinoff of Stutz, Artiano Shinoff & Holtz, became involved.


I filed 3 grievances on November 13, 2001. The very next day the
district threatened me with dismissal. This was a violation of
the Elementary Education Relations Act (EERA) and other laws.

The district took no action on its
threats, however, until I filed a
lawsuit on March 12, 2002. On May
7, 2002 Patrick Judd, Cheryl Cox,
Pamela Smith, Bertha Lopez and
Larry Cunningham voted to dismiss
me, thus violating California Labor
Code section 1102.5 which prohibits
retaliation against employees for
reporting wrongdoing. This was also
a violation of the constitutional right
to petition for redress of grievances.


My dismissal was upheld by the
Office of Administrative Hearings.
Judge H. James Ahler conducted
a hearing that was almost as comical
as it was illegal. At one point
Judge Ahler jumped up and
ordered the panelists to join him in a
side room, where he told them to
disregard my testimony. I heard his
words because I was sitting on the
witness stand a few feet from him.
The court reporter and all the rest of us
sat at attention during the ten
minutes the panel was in the little
room, but the judge's words were
not included in the transcript
because the reporter couldn't hear

The school district spent many tax
dollars, and the California Teachers
Association spent plenty of teachers'
dues, to get my lawsuit thrown out.
Perjury by employees was also
required, but the effort seemed to pay off
for the district and CTA when my lawsuit was
dismissed in 2005.


As fate would have it, however, my case
is back in court. CVESD’s law firm,
Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff & Holtz,
brought this case back to San Diego Superior Court
in 2007 by filing a defamation suit against me
for publishing this website.

So it’s still possible that justice and sanity
will find their way back to Chula Vista Elementary
School District.

by Maura Larkins

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mary's garden grows quite well, but Nancy Kerwin's has a bare spot

Mary Guzman (far Left, holding check), a fourth grade teacher at Valley Vista Elementary, received a $1,200 school garden grant from the California Fertilizer Foundation at an all school assembly on Monday, May 19, 2008. Principal Gloria McKearney helped Mary hold the check.

Nancy Kerwin, the Chula Vista Elementary School District’s Executive Director of Student, Family, and Community Services and Support stood behind them.

Jan. 13, 2008
It seems that Nancy Kerwin's smile in the above photo might have had more than one cause. A month before the photo was taken, Nancy apparently got someone she didn't like, Dale Parent, demoted. Dale Parent's lawsuit may be found HERE.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

No blaming the parents and community at this middle School

Keillor Leadership Academy in southeast San Diego improved its test scores.

June 10, 2008
"A southeast San Diego charter school has quietly done the improbable, becoming one of only two California middle schools to pull itself out of No Child Left Behind's purgatory...

"It's so easy to blame the parents, or the community" for low achievement, Executive Director Patricia Ladd said. "All those things we can't control. We have to take things as they are and stop the blame game."

"Keiller's director attributes many of its reforms, including its changed culture and new focus on vocabulary, to the freedom it enjoys after converting into a charter school. Charters are independently run but publicly funded schools that are not bound by school district rules..."

Friday, June 06, 2008

Richard Werlin has surfaced again

Richard Werlin has surfaced again
After causing big problems in Chula Vista and Richmond, the amazing Richard Werlin has gotten himself hired in Compton, by none other than his old pal at WCCCUSD, Kay Burnside.

And Kelly Angell, who helped get a lawsuit against Werlin regarding criminal actions thrown out of court on technical grounds, without any findings of fact, is now an employee of Fagen, Friedman and Fullfrost.

Is it a small world, or do certain people just come together naturally? Or both?

Here's the article I found:

School Board [Compton Unified School District] Considers Fourth Audit of District Operations
May 14, 2008
By Allison Jean Eaton

"...Last month, the school board supported three other similar audits at a total cost of $46,000 in the areas of human resources and personnel services, legal services and fiscal services, the latter of which will include an in-depth look at facilities funding and the affect it has on the district’s overall financial status.

"Consultant Richard Werlin is being paid $6,600 to audit the human resources and personnel services department. The Los Angeles-based law firm of Fagen, Friedman & Fulfrost is studying the district’s legal services at a cost of $9,600...

"Superintended Kaye Burnside Ed.D., who officially took the helm of Compton Unified March 1, is exercising an “administrative best practice,” according to district Communications Director Christine Sanchez..."

from Jane Swanson blog

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Bilingual education rejected at Castle Park Elementary

Why has Castle Park Elementary in Chula Vista had 11 principals in 11 years?

Because of the bilingual program. And because past is prologue.

The serious problems at Castle Park Elementary started when the bilingual program was introduced in 1994. Many teachers were furious, and took out their anger on the single bilingual teacher who came that year to teach kindergarten. The result? She was dismissed at the end of the year by a district whose policy is to not make any effort to determine why a teacher has been targeted for dismissal; district administrators allow school politics to make those decisions.)

The bilingual program added a teacher a year until it had a final total of four bilingual teachers in September 1997.

The program was sagotaged by the many teachers who refused to allow bilingual classes into their teaming arrangements.

Rae Correira, a district administrator who tried to arrange teaming in the 1997-1998 school year was suddenly transferred to a different job in the middle of the year.

The teachers ran the school. The principal did exactly what teacher leaders told her to do. And that included dismissing another bilingual teacher in 2001 (the dismissal was initiated the day after she filed 3 grievances).

It's June 2008 now, and the teachers have just gotten rid of their 11th principal since the bilingual program started. The twelfth principal in fourteen years will be chosen soon.

by Maura Larkins
Charlotte Blogs