Sweetwater district spent big for Arne Duncan visit

$17,000 stage, $3000 worth of flags, $5000 in banners

Principal Robert Bleisch warms the new stage for Arne Duncan's entrance
  • Principal Robert Bleisch warms the new stage for Arne Duncan's entrance

When Arne Duncan visited Sweetwater’s Castle Park Middle School in September, it created quite a stir — not because he is the U.S. secretary of education but because there were concerns that the school, and the district, went on a spending spree they couldn’t afford.

In August, when the Reader inquired about preparations for Duncan’s visit, district spokesperson Manny Rubio denied to the public and the media that any money was spent. A September 4 Reader article documents problems related to Castle Park Middle preparations.

The denials from the district that followed are worth wading through because of their contrast with the emails that have recently been provided to the Reader by a source.

On August 23, the Reader sent the district this Public Records Act request: “I would like to know if any Sweetwater money is being spent on the occasion of the visit of Arne Duncan on September 13. I would like to see any invoices, itemized lists, or work orders regarding expenditures for this event.”

The swift reply from district spokesperson Manny Rubio is reproduced here in its entirety: “The district is not making any additional expenses for Secretary Duncan's visit. There are a couple of projects that were already underway at Castle Park Middle (such as solar panels and benches being refurbished in the quad area) that got underway prior to our knowledge of Mr. Duncan's visit and are ongoing. The school will be hosting a community event later in the day (after the Secretary leaves) where several items such as catering are being donated.”

On the heels of the September 4 Reader article, Rubio wrote: “I just saw your article re: Castle Park Middle posted online today. I wanted to raise a couple of major concerns with you — one is your decision to only use a small portion of my response to you (included below). Your blog post insinuates that we are doing much of the work at Castle Park Middle specifically for the Secretary's Visit. As I pointed out in my email to you, there definitely are projects being done at [Castle Park Middle School], but the major projects were slated for the school prior to our knowledge of Mr. Duncan's visit. You also fail to point out that some of the cost of the event for the day are being donated by the community. I acknowledged expenses were being made, but your characterization of my response was lacking the full context of my comment.”

The Reader made yet another push for the requested expenditure information on October 15. The clerk of the board wrote this response: “Your request to me was for ‘money spent on the occasion of the visit of Arne Duncan.’ There were items purchased for the school to use, but not specifically for Mr. Duncan's visit.”

Continued attempts to obtain emails between the principal of Castle Park Middle School, Robert Bleisch, district superintendent Ed Brand, and district CFO Albert Alt were thwarted — until a source provided the emails.

Below, the email excerpts tell a different story about expenditures and Duncan’s visit:

Arne Duncan visit

Principal Bleisch wrote to Brand on July 25, 2013, “We just got word that Tyler, Arne Duncan’s staff, will be visiting CPM [Castle Park Middle] on 8/8 @ 10:00. The purpose of the visit is to check out the facilities. As a result I plan to invest ASB [Associated Student Body] money ASAP to upgrade the cafeteria prior to this visit ($5,000 for new stage, $5,000 for new blinds, $5,000 college banners.)”

Bleisch’s email goes on to ask Brand for support in getting: a fresh coat of paint in the cafeteria, 4–6 fans installed in cafeteria, and "college T-shirts" for students and staff.

Bleisch noted that the ceiling fans are necessary because the cafeteria “is extremely uncomfortable as it does not have AC and very poor ventilation.”

On July 26, Brand responded to Bleisch’s plea with an email to chief financial officer Alt and facilities manager Thomas Calhoun, and a cc to Bleisch: “Let’s make it a reality.”

As the emails continue, so do the district’s machinations to make this “reality” happen.

On July 29, Bleisch wrote to Alt, “It looks like Dr. Brand is giving the green light to move on this. Do I have approval to purchase college gear in preparation for the visit from Arne Duncan?”

On July 29, Thomas Calhoun wrote to staff, “Here is a high priority request for CPM [Castle Park Middle] in preparation for Secretary Arne Duncan’s visit. Please see if you can make these dates. Funding will be made available.”

On July 30, Bleisch wrote Alt: “We have no choice but to purchase a couple of stages for this event (indoor and outdoor). My ASB can afford $3000 but $17,000 is a little too steep for us. This wouldn’t be something you can help us with is it?”

As days go by, the exhortations for money for the Duncan event turn more worrisome. Data-gathering, which is a nationwide concern now in relation to Common Core Standards — appears to become a bargaining chip for money.

Data-gathering has recently emerged as a primary concern for opponents of Common Core Standards and Common Core assessments. Federal laws governing privacy for student data were weakened in 2011. Across the nation, parents have expressed concern that student data will be shared with third parties.

Castle Park Middle School is a Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood school. Promise Neighborhoods are funded by the Department of Education and claim to offer “cradle to career” services. South Bay Community Services is the organization that oversees and distributes the $60 million government investment in Chula Vista.

On August 2 Principal Bleisch wrote to Alt: “By the way, FYI-SBCS [Promise Neighborhood/South Bay Community Services] is prepared to give my school a good chunk of change (over $100K of PN money allocated last year for staff that was not used.) The catch is that they are kinda using the data-sharing agreement as leverage.) They promised to expedite this money transfer as soon as we deliver on the data agreement.”

“We sent Dr Brand the revised [data] agreement yesterday. He said it looked good. If there is any way you can help me get that signed I then can put the pressure on them to get me the money. I plan to use this money for the stage and other things needed for the 9/13 visit.”

On August 5, Bleisch wrote Alt a reminder. The subject of the email is “Data-Sharing.”

“Just a kind reminder if you can help us get this data-sharing agreement signed.” FYI-They’re [reference to South Bay Community Services] holding up money until I deliver on this [smiley face] need this PN money to pay $17k for a new stage and $3000 Flags, $5000 cafeteria college banners for Arne’s visit. (The revised agreement is signed and forwarded.)”

On August 22, Alt wrote to various staff regarding reimbursements for Castle Park Middle School:

“With approval from the Superintendent, I have authorized General Funds to be reimbursed to Castle Park Middle ASB funds. Mr. Bleisch utilized ASB funds to purchase a stage for the school, in particular for the visit of the United States Secretary of Education, Mr. Arne Duncan. The purchase has been made, as evidenced by the check provided as back-up. Could you please initiate the transfer of funds from GF (general funds) to ASB…”

A December 3 phone call to Bleish was not returned.

Sources say that CFO Albert Alt was fired on December 2 by superintendent Brand. Alt’s September 4 email to the Reader appears to be the most accurate. Alt wrote: “Some of the purchases are general fund, some are ASB funds….”

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Under the leadership of Ed Brand not much is what it should be.

The information turned over to South Bay Community Services is illegal. Why would a Superintendent authorize this?

The community has, for months been questioning the many hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to South Bay Comm Services, as has Pearl Quinones and Bertha Lopez. I would hope all future monies will be stopped.

Mr. Calhoun should also be questioned, no doubt he was simply following the orders of Ed Brand - it does not always pay to be a yes man when you are being paid with taxpayers dollars.

Hopefully a legal investigation will be forthcoming - a national spotlight needs to be directed to SUHSD to show what happens when all power is turned over to a Superintendent who will go to any lengths to silence those he perceives are critics, including calling community members employers who dare to speak at a board meeting.

Bobby Bleisch, Ed Brand, Tom Calhoun need to be visited by the authorities and put under oath - then and only then will THEY be WILLING to TELL THE TRUTH! THE WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH.

It is time for Ed Brand to GO!!!!!!!!

What an absolute scam. Perhaps Bonnie can stop prosecuting tree trimmers and get back to work prosecuting this South Bay Scum.

Nice one Susan. No need for anything they bought for a show. Bad ventilation and uncomfortable cafeteria is okay till somebody's looking.? Money not used for staff as it was allocated? Con man Bleisch should not play principal.

Nearly a quarter MILLION dollars to SBCommunity Services in contracts on last month's Suhsd Board agenda alone! They are raking in the dough to pay their CEO nearly $200k per year, and nearly as much for Shirley Horton in a position for which she has no training....a former realtor?

Take a look at FERPA regulations. That is the FEDERAL law (which may be Fast Eddy's downfall) that clearly specifies that student record data is private and may NOT be released by the district without the express consent of the parents. So who asked the parents for permission to 'share' their students' record data.....address, telephone number, etc. etc.

Fast Eddy has been caught in so many lies...lies, lies, damned lies....Ruthie Chapman was right. (If Ed Brand's lips are moving, he is lying.) What an unholy mess.

The Reader's Susan Luzzaro strikes again. Not only does she expose the district in numerous lies she exposes the student data exchange of funds scheme. Oh me oh my, what will the state say. This will certainly bring unwanted attention to Dr.Brand. This man is sooooo arrogant. Just shows that $ is all he is about. He mis spends the Mello-Roos and has our district on the threshold of bankruptcy. That's what staff is saying because Brand fired Dr. Alt. It took time to get the truth about the Arne Duncan festival but you did it again Reader thanks.

Add to the list of lips-moving = lying, district spokesperson, Manny Rubio. Pathetic.

Aren't these deals just too cozy for words?

Can we even begin to track down the financial shenanigans that Ed Brand has perpetrated? Can we taxpayers finally find out where the millions are going? Must we keep funding this charlatan and all his charlatan friends in perpetuity?

These scams, back room deals and games of dirty pool need to stop.

We need to get the cuffs on Brand and everyone who has cooperated with him.

This league of self-serving public money-grubbers needs to be corralled and hauled off to a location where they are not in charge of anything.

It's worth noting that I have received several emails which state that Castle Park Middle wants to become a charter school.

OMG you could cut the tension with a knife for those at the District the last 24 hours. How many times can you lie and expect to get away with it? Fire Al Alt? Are you kidding me? Where are those emails who sat on them and who is gonna let somebody know what really went on?

Does my crazy employer actually think they could get away with this stuff. I know/hear what goes on in Cabinet. There will be more revealed. I have tried to lie low because Superintendent Sociopath aka Ed Brand is always sniffing. There are some smart people on that Bond Committee. The public ought to pay attention carefully on what is said.

We District employees need to contact our representatives. Flood Lorena Gonzalez, Shirley Weber, David Alvarez and Ben Hueso with emails. Let them know what is going on. Contact their staff. We have to undermine Ed Brand.

Ed Brand needs to go to his Estate in Escondido and hide behind the access gates to his property in shame. Let him and Tom Hassey share war stories on how they were both misunderstood. Let Ed wind the Eight Day Clocks at Alliant University. Anything but making life miserable for all of us. He could become a member of the Putz Anonymous Support Group. Anything!!

Selling our kids information, spending ASB funds( again student money), to impress Duncan! Not using $100,000 that was supposed to be used for the staff. I'm sure teachers could of used that money to buy supplies, equipment, use for field trips, salary for additional teachers , sports or extra curricular activities. Anything used for student benefit ( Not Common Core, nor Ipads) but then not to be held as leverage for getting student information. Just wrong.... Definitely is a need for house cleaning! These people forgot the reason they went into education. They are Crooks! Crooks need to be behind bars!

Ms. Luzzaro - I am thinking it is more like 'Ed Brand wants Castle Park Middle to become a charter school'.

It is worth sharing that I do not believe the Board had ANY knowledge of the truth regarding the shenanigans that surrounded the Arnie Duncan visit - now that they do one can only hope that they DEMAND answers.

I am thinking it is time for the board to contact legal counsel to have Ed Brand removed from his position. This story is not reporting a scandal it is reporting ILLEGAL ACTIVITY. Do Board Members currently involved in other legal matters really want to add this to their list of stresses - I am thinking NO.

The majority of Our Board members find themselves in the legal fight of their lives - Ed Brand was brought back allegedly to 'right the ship' and in doing so take any added pressure off their shoulders. Yet in truth Ed Brand has done the exact opposite - one scandal after another he has laid at their footsteps - claiming it was all the CAVE PEOPLE'S fault - now ALL OF THE BOARD HAVE PROOF POSITIVE with this story that Ed Brand will go to any lengths.

CAVE PEOPLE - the latest label Ed Brand has given those community members who dare to show up and speak up at Board meetings. (Citizens Against Virtually. Everything = CAVE). Hmmmmm I am wondering if anniej is one of those CAVE PEOPLE? Anyone taking bets?

Board members, I am recommending that you reread this story - the 'data' presented, no longer speculation, but actual written DOCUMENTED PROOF?

You now know the truth - all eyes will be watching to see your response. Will you aid and abed? Or will you stop this?

ASB funds aren't supposed to be spent in the way the CPM principal used them. I'm not sure why all this has gone unnoticed and unchecked. SUHSD top leaders have finally stuck it to themselves. Unless it is true that they are Teflon.

Knowing the truth is one thing, but seeing it in writing is something else. Why do people put things in writing? Oh, that's right, because they are so much smarter than everyone else they will never get caught.


I normally do not defend our board. In this case I agree with you. Management at the district is prohibited from speaking to board members without the superintendents permission. Dr. Alt is an honest man. Did you know he was fired? We are angry over this. Dianne Russo has been seen in the office and people are now convinced she is coming back. The only way to stop the superintendent is to expose all he has done wrong. We deserve a boss who cares about the employees and the students.

Ensenadamaria, you are correct. Alt was fired on Mon.and Russo was with Alt's replacement and past assistant Karen. It was announced to staff that Russo would be training Karen for her new position. What it really means is that Russo will be an expensive consultant and running the show in someone else's name. Interesting that Frances Martinez ,Russo's best buddy in the district has decided not to retire. And yes she is our internal auditor and has been for tooooo long. Coincidence I think not.

I would love to hear from anyone who has solid information on CPM going Charter. From what I've heard Mr. Bleisch has already communicated to his staff that CPM will become part of the Hawking STEAM Charter. He told staff this decision has already been approved by Dr. Brand and the board. He has begun selling the “benefits” of going charter to CPM parents. I’m looking for the truth in this matter, not the Bleisch spin on things. Has the board really agreed to this?

livetoknit1 - I attend all board meetings and have not seen this item agendized. Having said that, as far as the board knowing - hmmm, not sure about that.

If the Board is smart they will advise Brand and Bleisch to cease and desist - no doubt the authorities will be driving up any time now launching a full fledged investigation. The documents named in this story are kin to a felony indictment, not that I am a legal mind.

Can anyone say lawsuit? The Castle Park community, in my opinion has been used by IMPOSTERS, wolves in sheep clothing. They wanted to be heralded, wanted to write books, wanted to impress. I am thinking someone, some entity will step in and offer to represent these students and parents. How dare their personal info be shared. The documentation alleged seems to indicate that a FEDERAL LAW was broken. OH MY!

It is a sad day when the SUHSD Superintendent and his Toadies, takes well meaning people and staffers, potentialy good news and accolades for a economically disadvantaged neighborhood and turned it all to mud.

First to WTFEd after many months, years I find it hard to believe that there aren't many more like you who know the truth and at least say something.

It's about time that some of the Ed Victims start to talk or are their severance packages too big to risk. Dr. Alt where are you? My original talks with you (In your first Month with Big Ed) were so promising, My how quickly Ed got you to cower... To the rest of you is it really that comfortable to be in Ed's shadow?

Where are the Heros who could assist in rooting out the BS in the district? Federal whistleblower laws exist for these reasons. Dr. Alt you got more to gain than lose over this.

As for the "Sale" of information to South Bay Community Services, both organizations should be ashamed. The potential mis-use of the Funds at SBCS should start an upheaval at that institution of public fund abusers and Friends of Ed aka Toadies. Again I would think twice about being associated with Ed, evan to be mentioned in the same blog is bad enough.

One would think that as school with great results and a crappy facility would project better light on program of teaching rather than a falsified, prettied up facility. Again our Districts mis-guided plan of continious "Lipstick on a Pig" ie if we have a pretty new Adminstration Building, then everyone will think we are financially solvent and since it is pretty and clean, we are too.

A final note, one of my neighbors used the auditorium at Eastlake High School reciently and commented on how poorly maintained it was. Mostly dirty, where is the district on maintaining their/our investments? Oh I know T-shirts and college Banners.

I guess this makes me a "CAVE" man, but until I/we see a coherent plan to improve our District it's hard to support the plan of the day.


bbq - You know I have great respect for you and your opinions - I mean after all great minds tend to think alike, haha

Regarding Dr. Alt, are you aware that he has been terminated? According to District insiders he was let go Monday morning after coming back from paternity leave. Why? Well according to District sources, because he was honest and we all have our opinions about how honest people are treated by Ed Brand. You notice I did not include the Board in my commentary. Again 'sources' (geesh I feel like a freakin' reporter) are saying the Board played no part in his firing.

At last months Board meeting Jim Cartmill authorized Maty Adato to meet with Dr. Alt - oh, if you could have only seen Brand's face when that went down - he was NOT a happy camper.

It is being said that while Alt was gone Dianne Russo surfaced, she was seen using the employees entrance - hmmmm, wonder what would happen if I attempted to use that door.

For the record I was not in favor of Dr. Alt coming on board. I was of the opinion that Brand hired Alt because he thought Alt would play Brand ball. I WAS WRONG! Since his hiring I have watched while several community members have spoken accolades about Alt's desire to be transparent. I have listened while he answered questions from the Board and the public - simple answers that all can understand. Taxpayers concerned about Mello too seem to show confidence in the truthfulness of his answers.

So,,,, the 64 thousand dollar question is why now? What devious plan does Ed Brand have that Dr. Alt might have challenged based on good economic sense? What don't we know? What is the truth that Brand is trying to keep from us about the financials of SUHSD? Channel 10 reported on the firing last night, they also mentioned an IRS audit - hmmmm - I am thinking there is financial trouble in the horizon.

If what sources say are true and if the Board was not aware of the firing the Board would be well served by reversing this termination - perhaps, they might instead FIRE BRAND.

Might I remind all that Brand wants that building in the East side, is it possible, that our books are being cooked, as I type - all in an effort to once engage in a land deal. Do the words L STREET ring a bell? Folks I smell fish and we are not having a red tide.

I am told that 'The READER' stories are on the SUHSD's best reading list -

WTFEd, you are correct, District personnel are very upset about the firing -

Dr. Alt, if you are reading this I would recommend that you contact Vince Giaime - hopefully you were smart enough to CYA by documenting 'the goods'

anniej, do you have a link for the channel 10 report, because I couldn't find anything on their website. In fact, I can't find much of anything on the Alt firing...

Any bets on a secret rendezvous between Brand, Bleisch and Calhoun in some out of the way dark restaurant in the next couple of days?

"OK guys how can we spin this and blame it on Lopez"?

It would not be unusual for any school district to spiff up a school for a visit by the Education Commissar of the regime. Even some of the most conservative in the county would have done some extraordinary things to prepare. The difference would have been that such a district would have "found" the funds in a maintenance and repair budget, and then when asked about them would have avoided lying. Spin it? Sure. But engaging in bare-faced lies? No.

If this sort of disclosure came to most other districts in the county, the board would have put the superintendent and his/her cabal on leave immediately. But the normal rules never apply to Sweetwater (or Southwestern or San Ysidro for that matter.)

The comments in the emails are just outrageous. The ceiling fans in the cafeteria were needed because it lacks AC and has poor ventilation. Oh yeah? And how long has that been true? Probably since it was built, many years ago. The kids could suffer it for generations, but Arne Duncan couldn't tolerate it for a few minutes. Great priorities, Sweetwater!

If it is true that Alt was fired, and not bought off/out, he can probably tell many tales. He should know plenty of skeletons. It is most difficult to hide reality from the CFO in any organization because he or she keeps track of the money, and if you want to know the real story, as is said, "just follow the money." That guy should be able to blow the lid off the district and blow Brand into the next county. The things he knows about have to be far more serious than the allegations now headed to trial. If the DA hasn't already called Alt in for an interview, the omission tells us all far too much about her. But we shall see, in due time.

So fast Eddy doesnt like the fact that the CFO is honest and lets him go. Isnt that the definition of a freaking bully? Fast Eddy wants to do want he wants to do and the rest of the people be damned. You guys really should watch the video that is here it is freaking hilarious. You see Fast Eddy looking at Arnie Duncun trying to keep up with the pace and saying look at me, look what I did and Duncun doesnt give him the time of day. The chants from the kids like really dudes you could have done a lot better. My son is a student there and he said they kept laughing because they felt like idiots.

This Rubio guy and Deanne lady watch out because if you think fast Eddy will protect you or your jobs when he is gone you are so wrong. HEY BOARD MEMBERS YOUR ASLEEP AGAIN AT THE WHEEL. WTF IS YOUR JOB DESCRIPTION LET THE IDIOT SUPERINTENDENT DO WHAT HE PLEASES. YOU GUYS ARE IN A SHIT LOAD OF TROUBLE IF THE FEDS ARE INVOLVED. We will all just sit and laugh our ass off because you all deserve everything you get. What a freaking joke!

P.S. Bobby Bleich you are a fake and Brands lacky and everyone laughs at you all the time. you know nothing and do nothing

[email protected]

Please join me and send an email to Arne Duncan demanding answers as to why LEGALLY PROTECTED INFORMATION was shared with Promise Neighborhoods. An explanation as to how any Superintendent would be allowed to remain in his position is in order. Perhaps Mr. Duncan might contact the board and demand action.

Please forward on to ALL you know and ask that they do the same.

Respectfully submitted,

Anyone out there in the banking/financial world?

Might I suggest that since real estate financial negotiations will be coming up relative to the new building Brand is hell bent on purchasing might I offer up the thought that the true financials of SUHSD just might not be presented - after all, there will be a new cook in the kitchen. You know altering the recipe of just how much debt we have,,,,,,,,,, - not that I would EVER mean to insinuate such a thing might happen in a school district where 4 of 5 Board members are under felony indictment.

Board members, are you prepared to once again have to answer to allegations of legal impropriety - - it is time for you to stand WITH the community FOR the students.

We are looking to ALL member of the Board to do the right thing - so, when are you going to schedule the press conference?

As a man who speaks weekly on the importance of truth I see no alternative for Jim other than to relieve Dr. Brand of his responsibilities as superintendent.

Cannot help but reply, "You may speak weekly on the importance of truth, but Jim Cartmill only speaks weakly..."

Oldchulares - it should be so easy for the Board to do.

Again, what does Fast Eddy hold over them, have on them, how is he blackmailing them into silence? There are really no other possible conclusions as to why the continue to stand for such outrageous behavior.

One guess is that he is finding a way to secretly funnel money to pay their legal fees for the upcoming trials, and therein lies the stranglehold he has over them.


That is an interesting idea. An IRS audit of Jim's company Lets Talk Health would identify the source of the $20,000.00 loan for his defense. We were told that Jim has a defense fund that anyone can contribute to.

Ms. Luzzaro, I was wondering if you could make a list of all the Sweetwater problems, in chronological order, so that we could have a reminder of just how many horrific instances of bad decision-making, poor planning, self-serving and dishonesty have occurred.

It would serve as a great point of reference, as well as remind the crook of crooks, Ed Brand, that he cannot escape.

While I'm not sure that Susan ought to take time away from her reporting on new outrages to sum up all the old ones, such a list or timeline would be of great value. There have been so many separate incidents and controversies and accusations and charges filed and denials that were later known to be false that it is hard (well nigh impossible) to remember it all. For those who want to revisit how this district, along with the others, got to this point, such a summary would be invaluable.

Thanks, I was thinking that it would be valuable to see the extended list. Perhaps as a sidebar/link to other stories, and done in a way that it could be updated...because I don't think we are done with the problems list yet.

Regarding asking Ms. Luzzaro to make this list, I guess I was merely thinking that she has the records online of all the "events". Maybe there is an intern at the Reader who wouldn't mind the assignment??


You make a very good point. Why not spruce up? And why not get those kids some fans? This all should have been handled so differently.

We'll see what shakes out about the CFO. I haven't found the story but I understand there was something on about the CFO leaving and also about the district being audited-- not the usual kind of audit where the district selects a company. If I find the story, I'll post it.

None of this is a surprise. This is Brand and Bleisch doing their normal every day routine. How many schools needed to be busted for the misuse of ASB funds before principals figure out that they won't get away with it? Oh wait, they will because Brand is willing to "make it a reality"! It must be nice to work in a world where you can have whatever you want with no regard to rules/laws/ethics. As far as the charter goes, the staff need a 51% vote. Bleisch has been preparing for this since the day he arrived at CPM. Count the number of staff members who have been administratively transferred by Bleisch; those numbers haven't been seen in the district in decades. He had staff members administratively transferred TO him this year. Who even knew that was possible? He is stacking his staff and his votes very carefully. Those who weren't forced out were desperately seeking relief. Also interesting to note how many females were forced/pushed/manipulated to other sites and all replaced by males. Bleisch is beyond aggressive towards females and has been known to trap them in his office during his rampages. This will blow up somewhere down the road. The question is, will it be soon enough. My guess is that his plan is to be an administrator of a charter school by next year and therefore untouchable by the new board members that will replace those sitting in jail. It's worth noting that he was on the founding board/committee/group (whatever it was called) that submitted the petition for the first Mitchell charter school.

Based on the Information in this story I am wondering:

IS JOHN MCCANN A VIABLE CANDIDATE FOR CHULA VISTA CITY COUNCIL? If he is not willing to demand the laws of this great Nation be upheld as a School Board Member can he be trusted to represent the GREAT City of Chula Vista? My opinion - NO!

Looks like those who, just yesterday were so sure McCann would demand Brands firing, are now seeing the light. So much for honor, huh?

Federal laws reportedly broken, and John McCann, where is he? NO WHERE to be seen or heard.


The last I heard, we, the public, were still trying to determine if John McCann was 100%. He had seemed rather quiet and out of it at at least one board meeting, and left early.

But then, he had an attorney send some sort of vaguely threatening letter--was it to the Star-News?--saying McCann was just fine.

Yet there was the planted news story about his recovery and therapy being on-going. So you tell me--is he capable? Is he impaired? Does his eagerness for further office make any sense at all under the circumstances?

And why is Sweetwater UHSD still left to limp along with 4 indicted board members and one who denies he is impaired, but who can't seem to get the job--any job--done???

Margaret, Thanks your comment and for reminding me. I am studying an ASB's year-long expenditure right now. There are obviously rules regarding expenditures, but I am not familiar with them. Some of the things I see listed don't look like what students would choose, rather they look like admin choices. I know kids nowadays are paying for field trips and uniforms -- I'm wondering who the decision makers are and how it all works. Tips appreciated.

Not to be excessive in comments, but I do believe the video is worth watching. For me, it raises a lot of questions.

I think it is not Susan's job to make a list of the offenses so far...she is a reporter who earns her living with the stories she writes for the Reader. Don't make her part of the story because she is more valuable to the cause by reporting it.. Someone else needs to compile the list of egregious events to date. That list will be needed when election times rolls around.

Ms. Luzzaro - And what of the so called spirit packs that parents are 'encouraged' to contribute for? Our superintendent is out spending approximately $10million on a new District office - not to mention the monies that will be spent to build it out, add new furniture, utilities, and other e lenses and we are looking at approximately another $10million.

Our District is loosing MILLIONS on the L Street deal.

'CERTAIN' fair haired employees/consultants are receiving wage increases.

So you tell me why should parents be expected to pay any monies? A team bag, team uniform, warm ups and shoes - oh but that is right we can keep the shoes - big freakin' deal. So, in essence we are paying for team uniforms.

Now allow me to add to that the admission charges for each game, per person.

Then we have the contributions of food and time at snack bars.

Don't get me wrong I contribute time and food for concessions, I have for years. Have purchased prom dresses and paid for grad night, for students that were in need - I do it because we all need to pay it forward.

I guess what I am saying is this, taxpayers are consistently asked to pay more and do more. Yet, our very own District does not even value our teachers, counselors or other employees enough to negotiate a fair benefit package.

We, the taxpayers, are the gift that keeps on giving!!!!!!!!

*I am not asking for a story, just raising an issue that many parents are currently discussing.

Here you can see for yourself how our children were sold out! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tQVtD...

Sams - the video is extremely hard to watch. Young men and women who had no idea what the heck they were screaming for - a new fan in the cafeteria? They were being used by the master puppeteer Ed Brand and his minstrel Bleisch.

As my daddy use to say- enough to make a maggot gag!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now that San Ysidro's bonds have been downgraded, I am wondering what will happen to Sweetwater's bonds?

There is a cynical side to me that says if there is a financial downside to something, it will get plenty of attention, and that the miscreants will get their just desserts. So, this downgrade of the SY bonds is not just a fluke, the other districts will also suffer a downgrade. Which will be first, Sweetwater or Southwestern? I cannot begin to predict. But if, when, that happens it is almost certain that our current DA will react, and react big time. The paltry charges currently lodged against the various board members and former administrators will pale by comparison. The fallout from that downgrade is just starting.

Visduh - Ed Brand had better get going while the going is good.

I have a funny feeling that the truth about EVERYTHING is getting ready to break.

A new case? State and Fed officials? Hmmmmmm

Disclaimer: My name is Carl Bleisch. This article was forwarded to me by a friend who is employed by Sweetwater Unified. I am aware of the other articles in this series. I am merely sharing some personal thoughts:

What are the real issues here? The monies spent on the CPM campus? CPM going Charter? A data sharing agreement between the school district and South Bay Community Services?

Do any of these anonymous complaints and personal attacks I've read stem from personal issues against Dr Brand? Personal issues with my brother? Union rabble rousers fueling the fans of discontent?

I have been privy to some information prior to Secretary Duncan's visit to Chula Vista...after all it was kind of a big deal to have the spotlight shone on a local school for academic achievement.

Although I may have a little bit more insight than most of you posting, I am too far removed to know how much of this negativity is simply some bs witch hunt. Again what I post are my personal observations and opinions.

The college banners and flags that are all over the school now (I don't know about funding)...actually make the school look pretty good and is part of the plan to put the idea/dream/hope/reality of attending college in the heads of these kids on a daily basis. That stuff was done prior to the Arnie Duncan visit too. It was all part of some college bound experience my brother wanted to create on campus. Personally, I don't see anything wrong with that.

I don't know what going Charter actually means. I see Charter schools all over the state. Why would it be bad for CPM to go Charter? Is this mostly a teacher's union issue? I suspect that it is...but maybe someone can enlighten me.

I don't know anything about Ed Brand...but I do know my brother. No doubt he pisses people off sometimes with the way he goes about his business....he pisses me off all the time...but not one of you out there anonymously attacking him from behind your keyboards ever mentions his work ethic, passion, and enthusiasm for the job.

For all the negativity I see on these boards...he must be doing something right. It's not like every school is catching the attention of Washington and getting visits from the Secretary of Education.

By putting your name on your comments you raise their credibility. You want to defend your brother, but against what? You refer to personal attacks, but the vast majority of comments here that mention him are hardly personal attacks. They raise issues of his conduct and his job performance. I've not mentioned him at all.

You do play the union card, something so often done by school administrators, and something done many times during this drawn-out group of criminal cases by those who seek to excuse criminal acts. The comment makers here are almost all ordinary citizens and residents of the district who are outraged at the malfeasance of the board and its employees. It is so easy to dismiss such complaints as union agitation, and forget the substance of what is being said.

You have a strange way of defending him by saying that "he pisses [you] off all the time". That's hardly the trait we want in our leaders and educational managers. And yes, you are too far removed to know much about what is going on in the district and its schools. But if you read all the archived reports that Susan has been making in the Reader, and study the comments, you'll get up to speed, and we'll probably hear nothing more from you that defends the status quo.

When something is rotten, a dog and pony show--even if it features a cabinet member--cannot make the problems go away. Sweetwater UHSD has deep and broad problems, which the administrations have tried to hide from the taxpaying public for years.

We are completely fed up with the lies, the attempts at distraction, all the unnecessary (and possibly not 100% legal) real estate deals, all the convenient jobs found for friends of superintendents...this list is nearly endless. And we are tired of it.

Here is a link to the most recent article regarding San Ysidro School District's situation:


Carl - I don't know how old you are or how you were educated but you are about as naive as it gets. It has not been about the union. I believe it's about corruption and a whole lot of missing and mis-spent money. Decisions that are supposed to help children and teachers situation have been clouded by want for personal success and greed. Looks like fraud at the level of superintendent and school board, who you might know, some are already awaiting trial. Brand is unfortunately my brother and our philosophies are very different. He loves other people's money, has stolen much of mine with assist from fellow bullies, some of them lawyers. Read articles about the earlier years of Ed in Reader archives and UT. Stay open to what you learn, it was hard for me to accept but I had to. I hope the legal process in place to protect the public from supporting illegal acts goes into effect soon because the kids deserve the money be put into the classrooms where it has been lacking due to mismanagement for a long time. My personal belief is that money was a great temptation for Ed to help himself - someone mentioned, cooked the books, trying to cover up, especially since they will not comply with the law the requires them to provide records of expenditures nor do they allow public participation at meetings where expenses and projects are discussed as required by law. On and on...

There is a word out that Arlie Ricasa and Pearl Quinones had a hearing yesterday (12/6).

They have a week to decide if they will take a plea deal or go to trial...so the word goes.

From all indications, things look very serious for them, so my question is--will this affect their votes and the positions they take at the upcoming board meeting? Will this in essence "free" them, and will they vote as responsible individuals, or will they kowtow to Brand and his apparent control of everything?

If I were in that position, I would certainly NOT want to continue protecting anyone else. Especially when that someone always views others as expendable.

A simple question: why don't those two just resign now (which is what they should have done months ago) and go to court and hope for the best deal they can get? The whole spectacle of a board with four members under felony indictment just staying on the job and running things (into the ground) has been Kafkaesque at a minimum.

Mr. Bleisch - it is obvious you are a protector of family and that is a great quality that I respect.

The issues we are commenting on have to do with the students of the South Bay. Ed Brand left during his first tenure due to a Grand Jury investigation,math at is a fact. South Bay community services held the principal of CPM hostage in order to get Federally Protected student information, that is a fact. Our District has 4 of 5 Board members under indictment, that is a fact. The monies spent on banners, stages and paint would have been better spent in the classroom, that is a fact. There are many questions surrounding the two other Charter Dchool financials, listen to the last board meeting audio, that is a fact.

Yes Sir you are correct about the attention - and there is more coming. Unfortunately this new attention will shine the spotlight on the fact that all that glitters is not gold. The new attention will be about a FEDERAL LAW that was broken, and please do not even get me going regarding the alleged tax dollar misappropriation. Funny thing about laws and the CAVE people, they kind of see themselves as watchdogs that do their due diligence.

Your statement 'he must be doing something right' - on that note I will not document the hearsay shared by many of the most talented educators and administrators in the distict - I will step back and let the teachers who have worked with him comment.

'bs witch hunt' - hmmm, you might want to check with Jesus Gandara, Jim Sandoval and the others who will be in court next Friday - you know 'here comes the judge'. Funny they said the exact same thing when their deeds were 'found out'.

shirley began - hip hip hoooooooray! WELL SAID

I wasn't done - I'll be back thanks to you guys.

eastlaker - the legacy of Ricasa, Quinines and Cartmill will be documented for all to read on Google based on Monday nights votes

The ball is in their court - will they vote for the students and taxpayers or will they choose to allow the master puppeteer to pull their strings one last time?

Stay tuned.

As daddy use to say 'it ain't over til its over' - the puppeteer, when he is gone, THEN IT WILL BE OVER.

Thinking out loud here - wondering about the laws that govern truthful * of *.

Manny Rubio is another example that San Diego has always been at peace with it's corruption.

Reason #1 why being a slave to your paycheck can be a problem...

Hopefully this will be the last board mtg.Pearl and Arlie will attend. If they plea out next Fri.the13th(ha) we will have two seats available immediately. That's my understanding. I got the impression while at the hearing that the players were all given a deal to accept or reject. The attorneys were in the judges chambers for a long long time. The Southwestern people came into the court as a group and were asked if they agreed with and understood what the charges were that they were pleading guilty to. They then had dates set for sentencing. When the attorneys for the Sweetwater crew talked to their clients in separate areas outside the court the atmosphere was electric. Arlie's husband and brother surrounded her and talked with their attorney at length. The same happened with Pearl. We all then were allowed inside the courtroom. A continuance was granted until Fri.the13th. I got the distinct feeling that it will beaver next Fri.or announced who will be going to trial in lieu of a deal. I'm not an attorney but that was my take on the event.

Mr. Bleish, your defending of your brother is as it should be,but I think when the emails and other info is made public the repercussions will be heard all the way to Arnie's office. I also believe that with a couple of new board members( if not Brands choice) we will see Brand gone. The majority will have shifted and we will see Brand gone and your brother in a mess up to his ears. The Promise Neighborhood hopefully will be audited. They keep coming to the trough,now we know why.

studentfirst, just what was the purpose of posting this second-hand commentary from the news media? It has just about zero relevance to this matter going on in the Sweetwater district. Once again, we see a rant against the "powerful" and "anti-reform" teachers union that accuses the union of being the cause of everything amiss in public education today. Based on some old personal experience, I can tell you that using "powerful" in the same sentence with 'teachers union" in most districts is oxymoronic. The union is really a toothless tiger.

If you want to make a complaint, write to the Reader and get your letter printed. That way it will be noticed widely, and you may convince a few folks of your belief.

It appears this "studentfirst" is trying to divert attention from the story here.

And the connection to this story is? Its relevance to this matter?

Everyone who is part of SEA on Facebook please take a look at the page. If you know someone who is part of SEA on Facebook I highly suggest you take a look. Mr. Robert Bleisch and Ms. Susan Mitchell held a meeting with parents, students, and community at Castle Park Middle School for the STEAM Hawking charter school. Ms. Susan Mitchell passed out documents for parents to sign for them to enroll their children in the STEAM Hawking Charter. Documents that Mr. Bleisch and Ms. Mitchell passed out are posted on the Facebook page.

This information is deeply upsetting. Not much has changed since the last time I worked with these two.

Robert everyone knows you've always wanted to be famous! Everyone knows you love to be in the spot light! Everyone knows you love being the center of attention! Well don't worry your pretty little head because you will be. I hope you're ready to buck up buttercup because you're going to be infamous! Check out these national write ups. link text link text


Quit deflecting Robert.

Here is a little more salt for your wound.

link text

link text

You’re welcome.

Thank-you for that ray of sunshine livetoknit1 - this reminds me of what Ed the lie-to-your-face-usurper did to my unsuspecting family, really destroyed, now getting whatever he can take home of yours, no mercy for Ed.

Showboating should be in relationship to accomplishment. this is just hype. I wish the students well.

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