Classroom shenanigans in Sweetwater school district?

Teachers and public question need for charter school at Castle Park Middle

Teachers and supporters protest walk before January 23 meeting
  • Teachers and supporters protest walk before January 23 meeting

Administrators at Castle Park Middle School created controversy in August 2013 when they spent thousands to improve the school’s appearance for secretary of state Arne Duncan’s visit.

Another controversial Castle Park makeover is now under way.

The district proposes to extend the K-3 Stephen Hawking Charter School offerings to K-8 by using empty classrooms on Castle Park Middle’s campus. The campus would serve as a location for both schools. Proposition 39 allows charter schools to use empty classrooms.

Some teachers suggest, however, that the classrooms were emptied intentionally. Lauren McClellan, a Sweetwater teacher perceives it this way:

“While enrollment has decreased for schools on the west side [of Chula Vista] as a result of SUHSD's open boundaries policy, [Castle Park principal Robert] Bleisch has also been strategically emptying classrooms at Castle Park Middle by eliminating programs (e.g., music, special ed. moderate to severe). He has actively been making room for Hawking Charter to expand from a K-3 school to a K-8 school.” 

McClellan also stated: “Hawking is an independent charter — it is not controlled by a publicly elected school board, but rather by a board of directors (all current or former SUHSD administrators). The public has no voice in the management of this charter school.”

Castle Park teacher Diane Ince says that the language used to convince parents to enroll their students in the charter school suggests the charter will offer more “choice.” However, Ince says that the district has reduced the offerings at the middle school — which makes the charter school more appealing.

Castle Park teacher Noel Ortiz says experts have documented difficulties with two schools sharing one campus. She said start and stop times and times for sharing the common areas will need to be staggered. Ortiz worries that traffic problems and noise levels will increase as a result.

When principal Bleisch announced a charter meeting on January 23, teachers held an informational picket and later attended the meeting. They felt these actions were necessary based on their experience at the previous meeting, on December 10: parents were told that the December 10 meeting was mandatory and Castle Park teachers were not allowed to speak.

Sweetwater Education Association president Roberto Rodriguez said to tell parents an informational meeting about a charter school is mandatory was “if not illegal, in poor taste and poor judgment. It appears the district is trying to coerce parents into removing their children from our schools — and siphon funds from our district students.”

The January 23 meeting was facilitated by Bleisch and district consultant Susan Mitchell. Mitchell is a retired Sweetwater administrator who is now paid $35,000, according to her contract, for “conducting the necessary research and preparation for the establishment of a K-16 Charter School for the Sweetwater Union High School District.”

Charter schools are typically instigated by parent demand, and Mitchell reiterated several times during the meeting that the charter was a result of parent demand.

However, when Sweetwater trustee Bertha Lopez asked parents in the audience to stand if they had requested a charter be formed, only two parents stood.

The meeting began with an overhead projection on a screen that stated: “The purpose [of the meeting] is to have a conversation about school ‘choice.’ The idea is to not convince you one way or other but rather to simply give you information so you can make the best decision for your child.”

After 50 minutes of YouTube videos favorable to charter schools and Mitchell’s presentation, parent John Molina requested that teachers present in the audience be allowed to speak. Mitchell said “Not this evening because this evening is an informational meeting of the STEAM [science, technology, engineering, arts and math] charter school.”

Lopez objected and told Mitchell, “This is a public meeting, and all members of the public have a right to speak.” She went on to point out that many teachers in attendance were also taxpayers in the district.

Another parent, who identified herself as Josie, spoke up in support of the Castle Park Middle School staff. She questioned the need for a charter school and said her daughter was a successful honor student as a result of the teachers.

Mitchell offered several enticements to the parents to sign up for the charter. Chief among them was that the charter school would emphasize STEAM. She also said that students would be learning Common Core Standards and be doing project-based work.

Mitchell said the charter is “tablet-based, which means that every student will have an instrument.” She invited the audience to come and look at the Hawking charter school kindergartners with their iPads.

Mitchell also told the parents it was a 7:00 to 5:30 school and that parents did not need to pay.

According to Lopez, as the meeting broke up, one parent approached her and told her she had been confused by the process and asked her how to disenroll her child from the Hawking charter.

After the meeting, when Bleisch was asked to respond to questions for the Reader about the charter school he refused.

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More high pressure tactics from Ed Brand's pals.

Talk about: syphoning off resources!

Talk about: misrepresentation.

Talk about: concerted attempt to manipulate members of a community who are in need of trustworthy societal institutions, not bogus, trumped up "charters" that are run for the benefit of Ed Brand and pals.

I believe McCann might be in favor of it because it gives him a new bandwagon to ride.

Without some sort of momentum, his decisions have left him out in the cold.

He has zero credibility at this time, and perhaps his advisors told him this would be a good thing.

However, if I were CV Elementary School District, getting connected to Sweetwater would be the last thing I would want to do--especially since we still haven't found out the depths of the financial disarray!!!

What about getting a complete financial report, the forensic accounting we have been asking for?

After everyone really learns what the situation is, then perhaps discussions can be held regarding a merger. But it would be absolute folly to merge before Sweetwater's books have been opened up. Things could be so bad that CV Elementary could just be dragged down.

No responsible person would want that.

Who ever heard of a principal encouraging parents to take students out of his school? What I don't understand is what the district gets out of this? Taking students from one school and enrolling them in another doesn't increase the bottom line. What am I missing?

The charter school is in debt, it borrowed startup funds from the district. The only way the charter can pay back the money to the district is if it increases enrollment. If it does not increase enrollment, the charter will fold. If the charter folds another of Brand's ideas will blow up in his face, Mitchell will be out of her consultant job, and Bleisch has been telling people if the charter does not go through he will lose his job also. It only makes sense if you look at it through the perspective of self-serving SUHSD administrators.

I know Ms. Lopez initially supported Jesus Gandara, but realized the error of her ways and has been trying to rectify her mistake in judgement ever since. People need to realize how hard and consistently she fights against the culture of corruption in our district. Time after time, she is the lone voice of integrity and reason standing up to a shameless, bloated giant out to steal from our kids.

As I understand it usually a Charter School is run outside the District Trustees by a group of adminstrators and/or parent activists to create a different environment for learning.

Often these Charters are run by or alligned with a "For Profit" Corporation. I can see the siphoning off District Value into a separately run corporation with the same players currently running the whole district, Ed Brand, Jim Cartmill, John McCann, Quinones, etc. Since once the Elections come up in November they will not have jobs...

Secondly think about what neighborhood Castle Park is in! The Promise Grant Zone, now we have South Bay Community Services and the Federal Money available ($30M?) to the same group I mentioned above, the self-proclaimed saviors to Lower income education, the same ones that have run down every school in the district especially those in the "Promise Zones"!!!

People follow the Money and it is appearent what the motives are for our so called Trustees. Mark my words even with Ed and the Board changed they are going to keep messing with the schools down here in the district.

As I have said before, we need to up the participation of each neighborhood school, empower them to determine their needs ie, additional ESL or remedial math or extended school days to meet their particular demographic. We need the teachers to determine the best method of delivering the product to their students and have the District Adminstration and Union stand by to support them, not deter them.

A top down change is required to achieve these things, not the change of one school using lies and inuendo to trick families to fall into line with another potentailly failed plan.

BBQ, CAVE, Citizens Active for Value in Education

Mary Salas is proposing that SUHSD and Chula Elementary district merge due to the continuous scandals at SUHSD.

While I will need ime to study and ask others more knowledgeable on the subject of the finances I am for it. One thing for sure, if Brand thinks the CAVE people are passionate 'he is ill prepared to deal with elementary school parents'. The amount of exposure, the opportunity to speak in front of large crowds vetting the proposal would definitely expose Brand for who he is.

John McCann is quoted as supporting the proposal. Soooooooo, I guess this means we should take that new District office off the table for now right Mr. McCann?

Might this be the turning point, is it possible Mr. McCann is going to cut the ties with Ed Brand in favor of doing what is rightnformthebstudents and taxpayers?

Anniej, I have also seen just a bit on this proposal to combine, then separate the district into "City Based Districts" ie Chula Vista, National City and South Bay.

Concerns are that until the full state of Sweetwater UHSD is evaluated who in their right mind would want to affect Chula Vista Elementary School District?

Funny how the world ie Chula Vista and National City, Councils are only now talking about the systematic corruption in the Sweetwater District, that's "been rampant for many years:" paraphrased of course...

A fine endorsement of Community Oversight, Dr Brand, Ms. Russo, Dr, Gandara, Dr, Brand, Mr Cartmill, McCann, Ricassa, and all the rest here on Sweetwater Island, (Sarcasm intended).

Please note to all of the City Councils and the votersin the district, you've let us and yourselves down too.... by not speaking up sooner or reviewing the status of the District before voting.

Let's move forward, first restructure (Vote In) the board with new people and ideas, evaluate the issues, develop a plan to fix them, and get them fixed, before starting over by combining the districts.

BBQ, CAVE Citizens Active for Value in Education

Advocate perhaps Susie Mitchell? It is time you and Ed take your two man circus somewhere else. You have attempted to take advantage of the Castle Park community in order to benefit yourselves financially. Your handling of the informational meeting was disrespectful to the parents who came there for answers, not to be scammed. C.A.V.E. people you need to find a way to hold meetings in the parents homes, I am sure many will attend.

Good idea Ensenadamaria - a safe place to speak - these so-called administrators are out of their mind manipulators - teachers are the real leaders.

Clarification: please do not take my comments to mean I believe Ed Brand should even think about 'superintendent ing' a combined District, quite the contrary. At this point I am not sure combining the Districts is a good answer - Chula is running like a fine oiled machine, SUHSD - like a broke down clunker. Would Chula even want SUHSD?

I hear there are two more schools destined to become charter schools in this plan. I hope mine is one! Then I can fire some of those teachers I hate.

Heard that Bonita Vista Middle and Chula Vista High are actually closer to charter status. Surprised there's no protests going on around there.

Velma, Mr. Bleisch everyone knows it's you commenting because no other principal in SUHSD would ever stoop to your antics. Your a disgrace to the profession. Everyone is waiting on the side lines for Brand to give you what you deserve,FIRED!

I am so confused about charter schools and what their purpose is. Can anyone tell me are they state funded? Are the teachers union? I ask as I am wondering if the teachers and staff are not part of a union is this one way Brand is trying to smash the union by opening up more and more charters or having schools becoming a charter school? Just doesn't make sense why a public school district would be supporting a charter school unless their is something it for them?


This is a long op-ed piece, and we are an impatient society :-) by Diane Ravitch. It's from the Los Angeles Times. It assesses the problems inherent in charters, however it also acknowledges at the end that there are good charters. It may answer some questions, or contribute to a discussion.

This is another example of Ed's failure. Chula Vista's superintendent steered to course and continued to improve the education in his district he did not jump ship and get on board the charter ship. Why are my Sweetwater tax dollars being used to support charter schools. Was Prop O used to buy the Ipads for this charter.

Why in the world would Chula Vista Elem.want to use their 24% reserves to bail SUHSD out of their 10 million debt and let's not forget the Lst.property. To help a sinking ship? Would unification get rid of Brand? Does CV elem take on the San Ysidro mess as well? This plan sound like parceling out property more than unification. I'm on the fence about this until I understand a bit more how this works. Please clue me in if anyone knows where to get more information.

These charter schools and Alliant University are part of Brand's retirement plan paid for by us. It's scarey that one man has such control over our money.

I assume PPVelma is using sarcasm again, to tell us the teachers have less job security working at Charter schools.

The question of unification or more correctly reunification is an interesting one and deserves consideration. On one hand, the District is very large and dividing it into three pieces consistent with the three communities it serves would make it more responsive to the needs and desires of those communities. On the other hand, the economic state of the District is probably the biggest impediment to wooing the respective elementary districts. Why would CVESD, which is capably managed and has prudently established reserves in excess of 20%, want to take on Sweetwater's debt? It would be similar to the reunification of Germany without the cultural and emotional component. We know that the District is under water on the "L" St. property by at least $17M. There is a question of how much of the Mello Roos funds have been "borrowed" for general fund use. Most of the CFD's are in Chula Vista. Put simply, would it be prudent to marry someone who had huge credit card debt., student loans, and owed the IRS back taxes? I do favor pursuing the issue through the County Board of Ed level. As part of their process, they will have to make a comprehensive audit of the Districts finances in order to assess the feasibility of unification. For that reason alone we should support further exploration of the concept.

mko - Comprehensive audit you say - I can hear the sound of Brands big white truck engine starting up - 'take me home, time to get out of Dodge, them there books are about to be opened up and those Mello folks may just go postal'

Unification (realigning schools in a K-12 system based on geographic communities) was proposed in the early 1990s. The process is one wherein all voters in the entire area currently 'served' by the SUHSD are asked to determine if they wish to break up the Sweetwater Union High School District and 'unify' those 7-12 schools with the elementary schools in each respective area.(the proposal failed at the ballot box.)

If successful, a new unification proposal would dismantle the SUHSD district entirely and place the middle/junior, senior highs within the control of the respective elementary districts now within the SUHSD: CV Elementary School District; National School District; South Bay Union School District; San Ysidro Elementary School District.

Each would be a stand-alone district serving the students in the designated jurisdictions in a K-12 format. I believe the process is governed by state law, and likely begins with a petition.

Of course, the current liabilities of the SUHSD would need to be divided along with the assets and properties.

mko, I agree more exploration needs to happen for the same reasons I've already stated. Another big concern is if IB has to absorb San Ysidro and their new indebtedness and National City takes the two junior highs and Sweetwater High won't this place an imbalance on the quality of education in these lower income areas. What happens to the rest of the 640 million bond monies left? I'm probably getting way ahead of myself here. This isn't Unification like San Diego Unified District. This appears to be a division proposition. This is being looked at per Ed Code and I guess we wait to see what Randy Ward and Lyn Neylon have to add or clarify. I'm concerned about this. I understand total unification, but I'm not familiar with this method. Are you?

It's complicated and governed by state law. Check out www.cde.ca.gov/re/lr/do, especially chapters 5 and 6. It does not happen overnight.

I think that while unification may seem at first glance to be an attractive alternative to the SUHSD mess we now have, I would encourage everyone to focus on the immediate need to take back the SUHSD district at the ballot box (if the judge continues to look at her shoes and let all the indicted perps slide away) in November.

We DO hold the keys to the future of the SUHSD. Three seats are up for election, plus we have the Ricasa vacancy to fill as well, and that seat will be a fourth on the November ballot.. Once (and if) the District is restored and the crooks removed from the treasury, that would be the time to consider if it is better educationally to divide it up. I would caution that using unification as a remedy to get rid of the crooks may be the wrong place to put our energies until November.

Unification is not necessarily the best solution for the current problems, and as well meaning as the suggestion might be, it will only further confuse the matter and divide our energies and efforts.

I thought Ricasa's seat was one of the 3 that were up for voting.

Yes, you are correct. The vacant seats will be Ricasa, McCann and Cartmill. Quinones and Lopez were up two years ago.
If Qunones and/or Lopez are removed from office through the court process ahead, there could be five open seats in the November election.

I am concerned that this proposal could result in sleight-of-hand accounting moves, and the Sweetwater problems, i.e., all the Ed Brand schemes and their associated bank accounts could get closed off from public view.

It is entirely possible that local politicians, now beginning to realize that public dissatisfaction with Sweetwater will not go away, are interested in protecting some history...and sweeping problems under the rug.

Ask yourselves, why was Trujillo never prosecuted? Why was he allowed to return to Texas, still work in education, end up as Gandara's guru? FYI, Trujillo is still working as a consultant in education, the last I heard, if you can believe that. Don't forget, they are from the same community as Quinones, and if you think that is mere coincidence, I heard the Brooklyn Bridge is for sale again.

The corruption is deep, it is long-standing, and I would be very suspicious of Mary Salas chiming in at this late hour regarding anything related to school districts. Where was she when we called her office repeatedly? Unavailable.

oskidoll - erupting

Your clarifications concern me. What you describe is akin to the haves and have nots.

HOW did one of the GREATEST Middle/High School Districts in the nation come to this? Well, lets see we had the first degrader attempt to sell computers across the border, then we had Ed Brand who left under the cloud of a Grand Jury investigation, followed by indicted 'the gandara' who was brought here by Jim Cartmill and Arlie Ricasa and left with a pretty hefty benefit package given him by then John McCann (eventhough McCann had been given a legal opinion that 'the gandara' could be fired for cause) and last, but not least, John McCann brings Ed Brand back.

This Board, this Superintendent are driving us into insolvency. Even with a $10 million deficit Tom Calhoun is taking SUHSD employees on tours of their new digs - the Board has not voted to expend those monies so WHY??????? Does Calhoun know something we, the taxpayers do NOT? Has Brand finalized the deal behind our backs?

How can the proposed new building remain on the table if now the County Board of Ed and our politicians are speaking of unification.

$10 million deficit, plus $18 million new building - equates to $28 million

No meeting regarding our vacant seat - of course not, Brand is sipping on little umbrella drinks while our District is disintegrating before our eyes. And we all know NOTHING is done without direction from Brand. We are on hold. No doubt the board members will point their fingers at each other as to why no meeting. Betcha Lopez wants one - the rest - waiting for marching orders from 'tan' Brand?

Plus the missing approx. $100,000 million from Mello-Roos and the Teachers' Retirement account...

Take a look at the Ed code starting with 35511(3) for a definition of the process. Section 35721(c) allows for a resolution of a City Council within the District to get the ball rolling with the County Board of Ed. It gets complicated as the process moves on with EIRs and LAFCO approval as well as the apportionment of assets and debt. The latter being a sticking point in my view. There is also the real issue of the two smaller districts having the financial ability to carry the Jr. and Sr. High duties. In the end, it will have to make financial and structural sense. As frustrated as we may be with Sweetwater, change for the sake of change, is not a wise course of action.

During U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's recent visit to Castle Park Middle School, he is quoted as saying :

"Castle Park’s turnaround is just one more example that when adults raise expectations, children will rise to meet them," Duncan said. "You guys are setting a profound, profound model here. The whole country can learn, the national implications of what you’re doing are very significant.”

So, why is Susan Mitchell and her side kick, principal Bleisch, pushing enrollment in the Stephen Hawking Charter School?

They are counting on short attention spans as well as short- and long-term memory lapses.

Of course there is no consistency in the verbiage...it is all supposed to sound great "in the moment"--not be the sort of thing that is referred to later!!!

Which is why local school districts need to really pay attention!

Stratas of administrations have no real answerability, because by the time local school constituencies realize what the problems are, those "top" people are long gone, on to their next high paying gig.

That is another reason for dedicated local people--not people who merely smile for the camera, are all about themselves and whatever they can scam.

My guess is that the Charter School will offer huge compensation for administrators and others who go alone with Fast Eddy and his toady Bleisch. It is just another way to take public money that should be used to educate the kids in the SUHSD and put it in their own pockets.

it should read, 'who go ALONG with Fast Eddy and his toady Bleisch.' It may also be a way to provide handsome employment 'opportunities' for the likes of John McCann and Cartmill if they suddenly find themselves without the Board stipend and benefits.

mko - 'change for the sake of change, is not a wise course of action'. Wise words

With all that has been reported that suggests wrong doings and questionable if not illegal practices perhaps those politicians wanting to NOW help might call for an investigation by the State and Feds which would include audits of ALL programs.

Just watched a segment on the morning news. The Ukraine is in crisis - their President decided to take sick leave, SUHSD is also in crisis and our super is in Hawaii sipping on Mai Tai's with pretty pink umbrellas.

The South Bay community is looking for a hero - is there a caped crusader out there?????

anniej, everyone who continues to speak up and speak out about all this is a hero!

People like you who have been calling attention to all the problems in Sweetwater have lead the way.

Would Mary Salas be interested in meeting with a group of citizens to discuss all that we know?

Or is Ms. Salas more interested in gaining camera time? Because she, and all the other local politicians need to realize that this time we will not be fooled by a superintendent moving back to Texas. Or driving back to North County one last time.

We want to know exactly what the financial situation is--no more secrets.

No more secret deals, secret golden parachutes, secret real estate acquisitions...secrets that the people of these communities end up paying for, monetarily and through the step-by-step undermining of Sweetwater Union High School District.

Glad to see all this interest and discussion regarding charters and possible unification. I know that Mary wants to meet with the community to get input. You will likely hear about at least two community meetings to discuss the issue of unification so be on the lookout for it and please attend to be heard. Also encourage your friends and neighbors to attend.

The process itself, as others have stated, is a long and complicated process. Mary is just initiating it and opening it up for community discussion. I think its at least good to have the public forums to discuss it as it will force Sweetwater and Brand into discussions they dont want to have.

As far as our elected officials finally taking action, dont look a gift horse in the mouth! With Ben Hueso holding a community forum on fire alarms tomorrow at CV High, Randy Ward holding a public meeting on district or area Trustees next week, and Mary Salas holding meetings on the unification issue, this puts extreme pressure on Ed Brand, jim Cartmill and John McCann. It shines even more light on them and their actions which is good for the community. Lets embrace their involvement and keep personal feelings out. You can express those at rhe ballot box in November!

By the way, attached is a flow chart on what would be required for unification. At the end of the day, the voters in our community decide.

bvasvasva........ Thank You for posting this information. As I review it I do not see the States involvement. I raise this as a topic due to the following: a few years back National City did a study to review this very topic and evidently found it would be cost prohibitive. Districts deficits would most assuredly be an issue as well as a defined communities ability to sustain their own District due to a lack of a tax base. I have been advised that the State will not sit back and allow a venture like this if there is the real possibility that they (State) will inevitably be left holding the bag.

I would hope that Ms. Salas reaches out to the State and Feds and asks that a complete audit be done, including all Federal and State programs as well as the Mello funds. Hopefully she will be able to make contact with the IRS who is auditing Prop O and L street. Were interest earnings made on Prop O properly reported and paid back?

On a positive note, I will agree that the fact that finally persons with a title are finally paying attention is a positive. While we can't look in the rear view mirror and talk of coulda, woulda, shoulda - we must now focus on the here and now and the future.

Again I say this entire situation has been brought about due to fiscal irresponsibility and poor leadership - the buck stops with the Board and superintendents 'the gandara' and Brand. We could be GREAT again, but those persons who are voting us into insolvency - (certain Board members) and spending/borrowing us into bankruptcy (Brand, Calhoun and Russo) have simply got to go!


Hey Robert Bleisch or should I say Thelma, you want Sweetwater schools to turn charter so you will have a career in the future because after all of the things you have done in this district you certainly need other career options!

Blackwidow I agree with you 100 percent, Bleisch wants CPM to go charter for his own self-serving purposes. He use to brag about not having a SEA REP. On site. He thought CPM would be an easy take over with weak parents and teachers. BOY WAS HE WRONG! He never expected that SUHSD teachers would band together to save CPM. Bleisch you can't have CPM or any other school in SUHSD. Find a place out of SUHSD and make your charter. NO ONE WANTS YOU HERE! You are unethical and incompetent.

I will have to partially disagree with Hobbit, I do not think Bleisch cares at all if CPM goes charter or not, he has absolutely no interest in the school or the community, but I will agree that everything he does is for self-serving purposes. Bleisch has banked everything on his hopes to be a turnaround guru/consultant with his Granger Turnaround Model. He was hoping this was going to be his last year at CPM, he thought he was going to make it big selling his GTM to other schools, why do you think he has been travelling to Texas so many times this school year? Since he has been getting so much negative press those hopes are pretty much gone for now. Now he has to worry about holding on to his job, so he will do whatever Brand tells him to do. The district has enough information on Bleisch to fire him at any time, Bleisch knows this and is worried that if he gets fired his whole consultant dream will never happen. Brand knows this also, he can ask anything from Bleisch and he will do it, like supporting a charter school that goes completely against Bleisch's GTM. Being a hypocrite does not seem to bother Bleisch in the least.

What's up with the personal attacks (some posts, but not all)? Having different opinions about charter schools, district politics, ext. is acceptable. How are the personal attacks relevant to the issue? Why are they allowed by the board moderator. When this happens, the majority of the public will have an easier time assessing the Readers credibility on specific issues. Speaking of credibility, the quotes by two members in the audience who attempted to interrupt a presentation illustrates that they're only out for their own agendas and lacked consideration for the parents and community members attending the meeting for information (no, that is not a personal attack, just an opinion). This article makes the presenter at the meeting look good and 2 members of the audience that spoke out at the meeting look bad (again, an opinion on an issue at that time, not a personal attack).

Would these posters speak like this to those specific people? If they're employees in public education, would they speak like that to someone they had a disagreement with in front of their own students/or kids of their own?

Out of curiosity, which posts do you consider as personal attack? Other than a couple posts where someone is assuming another poster is a specific person, I don't see anything I consider a personal attack.

As for the "informational" meeting, which is it?

"The meeting began with an overhead projection on a screen that stated: “The purpose [of the meeting] is to have a conversation about school ‘choice.’ The idea is to not convince you one way or other but rather to simply give you information so you can make the best decision for your child.”

After 50 minutes of YouTube videos favorable to charter schools and Mitchell’s presentation, parent John Molina requested that teachers present in the audience be allowed to speak. Mitchell said “Not this evening because this evening is an informational meeting of the STEAM [science, technology, engineering, arts and math] charter school.”"

Was it a conversation about school choice "not to convince you one way or another", or was it a sales pitch, er informational meeting about the Charter?

A conversation suggests anybody being allowed to discus their point of view. Even if the choice they make is against the idea of a charter. The "Informational" meeting set-up cancels out one side of the choice.

RS803 - I know you are posting late on a Saturday night, but what are you talking about?

Typically Bleisch, deflecting from the real issue at hand. You would rather point the finger at the reader, teachers, and the community members. The real issue is your incompetence and need to turn CPM charter as your career spirals downward. You fail to see the big picture Bleisch, this is not just a couple of SUHSD employees that are out to get you. This is about what's right for students and YOU ARE NOT RIGHT FOR STUDENTS! Quit calling yourself a game changer, all of your efforts are self-serving. Once Brand leaves you will no longer matter. I find it odd that you see these comments as personal attacks when you yourself have personally attacked many people within the district on a daily basis.

After two decades of experimentation with charter schools in California, it is amazing to me that anyone proposes setting up any more of them. For every success story, there's two or three that have been mired in scandal, many have closed their doors, and others continue to underachieve. When the charter school law was passed, it was done as part of an offering that would dissuade voters from a full-on approval of vouchers. The voucher ballot measure failed, and the charter movement started its halting growth.

One major shortcoming in this state's way of handling charter schools is that they must be chartered by a district. More often than not, the district lacks any enthusiasm for the charter it allows, and then prefers to wash its hands of the operation. The charter school has its advisory board of people from "the community", and more often that not, these are folks who wanted the school for their own special reasons, and not people who know a thing about how to actually run a school. They end up with administrators, paid excessively, who run the campuses like little fiefdoms. Financial improprieties abound, and they often balance the books on the backs of the teachers.

The way it is supposed to work is that the chartering district maintains real oversight of the operation, and insures its finances are in order and that it is not excluding students who want to attend. I'm aware of NO charter school that gets that kind of attention from its chartering district, but I'm aware of a few that get virtually no oversight. Instead we get charters that cleverly cherry-pick their students, and there is one in this county that has enabled white flight out of the district that charters it. The liberals who thought they would get "their" sort of schools out of the charter school law have been left out in the cold most of the time.

Lack of oversight? Doesn't that equate to lack of accountability? How about financial management and "transparency?" A string of charter schools would be just perfect for Fast Eddie and his sycophants. No one place to track where the money goes, but instead a series of small leaks in the tank. This is right up his alley, and shows just how devious he can be.

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