Don't mess with Texas' labor pool

Sweetwater district launches search for permanent superintendent

Current Sweetwater board (Tim Glover, second from right, resigned January 27)
  • Current Sweetwater board (Tim Glover, second from right, resigned January 27)

On January 26, newly elected trustees of the Sweetwater Union High School District played to a packed house and a packed agenda, but the biggest upset did not come until after 10:00 p.m., when interim superintendent Tim Glover resigned.

Earlier this month the board voted in closed session to begin the search for a company to hunt for a permanent superintendent. The search appears to have precipitated Glover’s resignation; he is returning to the county office as early as February 18 in order to ensure “transparency” in the superintendent search.

Glover stated at the January 26 meeting: “…I truly believe if I stayed as interim superintendent through the search, and if the gods shined upon me and I was able to be a candidate, there might be some people who would say it was a waste of money, or why did you do that if that’s what you were going to do?”

The meeting that preceded Glover’s announcement was also eventful.

After five years of Jesus Gandara (who was recently sentenced to jail on a felony corruption charge) and another four years of former superintendent Ed Brand, the district is alive with concerns about cronyism and potential mismanagement.

An example of this undercurrent came when a representative of the certified public accountant group Vavrinek, Trine, Day & Co. presented the annual audit report.

Although the district passed the audit, and although the trustees ultimately accepted the audit, the plethora of questions and discussion — as well as the discussion centered around a possible forensic audit — suggested that many still believe there are bodies buried in district paperwork that need to be exhumed.

Trustee Paula Hall questioned why details from charter-school budgets were not included in the audit. The charter schools currently owe $4.8 million to the district and Hall stated that the board would like to see the details of their budgets.

Community members and trustees also wanted more information regarding the issues the audit raised about Associated Student Body accounts.

The audit cited improper accounting and reporting problems.

Trustee Frank Tarantino commented on the lack of standardization for items such as yearbooks and said, “I don’t understand why these problems keep coming back over and over. It’s not fair to blame the students, as they can only be as good as the adults in charge….”

However, Tarantino also reminded the audience that it has been difficult for people to speak out about ASB problems and that some years back, an ASB advisor was penalized by a previous administration for coming forward.

During public comment, several speakers turned the talk to the search for a permanent superintendent. They suggested sifting through local talent rather than going on a national search.

The speakers also pointed out that two previous national searches brought two superintendents, Anthony Trujillo and Jesus Gandara, who were indicted by grand juries. Both Trujillo and Gandara were from Texas, and one speaker told the board “Don’t mess with Texas.”

On January 27, via email, board president Tarantino offered this about the superintendent search:

“The board has only authorized that an RFP [request for proposals] be sent out Friday, January 23. The RFP process will solicit information about services that can be offered by the various firms that respond, cost of services, resources they can provide to the Board, how the firm operates, who will be designated as the firm's primary contact for the Board and ask for references.

“The firms that respond to the RFP will be evaluated by the board at a public meeting and 2–3 will be selected to be interviewed by the Board at a subsequent public meeting. Community/stakeholder participation in the process is a MUST but the final decision on who will be the next superintendent will rest with the Board. There has been no discussion as to the scope of the search.”

At the end of the long meeting, the trustees called a special meeting in the hope of selecting a new interim superintendent. They reported out from closed session that there will be an immediate search for a new interim superintendent who does not wish to be permanent. They have asked the County Office of Education to facilitate the search.

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It is more than rewarding to see, in person, a Board conduct business in a transparent manner. It is what the community has been calling for for many years. It appears the days of brokered deals behind closed doors has finally come to an end, all I can say is THANK GOD!!!!!!!

We can certainly hope that things will continue in this vein.

I see that the board will conduct a hearing on the entitlement of the 5th avenue property next week and hope that there is a packed board room to weigh in on that action. Isn't the 5th Avenue property the first domino in the 'real estate tifecta'? Let's hope the board squashes that deal after taking public input on the matter.

I'm impressed with this board thus far. I only hope they realize the treachery that goes on behind their backs. They are on a steep learning curve and need to be conscious of what is going on around them. It's really too bad but that is the way it is until they figure out who is who so to speak. Their efforts to be transparent thus are amazing. What a monumental task they have taken on. I hope they can remain strong while on this huge learning curve. The community appears to be with them.

Yes, they have a huge job. And when they do things that don't go over very well with some entrenched interests, they will be again accused of acting for the evil teachers union. Hiring superintendents hasn't been something the district has done right for something like thirty years. But this time it has to be done correctly, and they need a "supe" with near superhuman ability. "National" searches have produced some real flops, like the recently retired "supe" in Vista, who knew how to do one thing, and that was spend millions on a single remedial reading program. Beyond that, she was useless, yet was in the position for six years.

If I may say so, the SUHSD history with superintendents and other administrators has placed improper emphasis on them being Hispanic-surnamed as a first criterion. (Brand was the exception.) That needs to stop now, and competence and integrity need to be the main things considered. California does not need to look to Texas, or any other border state, to find the right person. Start locally, then expand the search to the remainder of this state. Still can't find the right candidate? Go back and look more closely.

oskidall - I thought the board was studying the real estate deals after hearing the properties that are involved are not what Tom told them they were and this was just a couple of weeks ago. So why are they having a hearing on 5th. No one trusts Tom anymore so why keep him he surely is no real estate brain.

On the subject of selecting a new superintendent, it might be a good time to examine the impact they have (or don’t have) on student achievement, and their value in regards to the return we get on their exorbitant salaries. The link below is to an article in NPREd, in which the author points out that studies show that principals and teachers are far more important to student learning than are these budget draining de facto CEO’s. For the price of one superintendent at the Sweetwater rate, we could hire four more entry level teachers. It just might be that searching for a better and less expensive way to release a “bad catch” as well as time spent on the search for another replacement, would be a good idea.

Absolutely. The salaries paid to these administrators in the top job are really ridiculous. They are a result of the administrator cabal playing musical chairs as they go from job to job, district to district, state to state. Each time a move is made, the hiring operation seems to think it cannot get a worthwhile candidate unless it raises the ante. We now have a situation here in low-pay San Diego County of paying most "supes" about a quarter million a year. The one in Poway is now getting almost $400K as I recall. And in some cases there is little correlation to the size of the district and the salary, such as a few years ago when the Vista USD "supe" was getting more than the counterpart in San Diego USD, a district several times larger. It's a game played so well by the administrators, and districts and their usually-well-meaning boards go along. The money should be in or close to the classroom, not in some fancy, clean and very comfortable office. And as to leadership, the closer that is to the kids the better. Some chest-beater of a "supe" proclaiming his prowess at getting the kids educated is usually a joke.

I've heard nothing but great things about the new board. Glover? Jury is still out on him. The majority of the district knows who should be superintendent. The board has been given the name. Spending money on a nationwide search is a waste. I was hoping SUHSD was over wasteful spending. Honesty, fairness, high expectations and a positive team spirit are all qualities needed.

miagd: Just who is the 'majority of the district'? Do you mean district employees? They are not the only stakeholders in this matter.

In point of fact, everyone in the community comprises 'the district. ' We who pay taxes are also included in that 'everyone' and no one has shared with me who should be superintendent!

johndewey - I would offer up the following a good Super at SUHSD would be worth his/her weight in gold. What we need to do at SUHSD is have certain outside auditors come in and allow them to pull what they want to audit - additionally we need to down size District staff and get rid of the dead weight and those who practice to deceive the public.

As a start a REAL audit of Prop O with a comparison of Montgomery Project 2 to National City Middle Project 2, which is in the works*

Auditors should then look at the Mello, which they will be soon*

Keyser Marston was able to prove, as an independent consultant that we were being sold a bill of goods by Tom Calhoun regarding property values - so who is to know what other conflicting data we have been given.*

While I agree with many aspects of your statement, SUHSD is a rare bird, one that has been drained due to the alleged corruption and back room deals. Let's clean the District up, then we can focus on more teachers and rewarding the GOOD Administrators.

*all since our Board was elected.

As always just my opinion

Your opinions have always hit the mark with me.

My hopes and dreams for Sweetwater involve having people in positions that they are qualified for, who really have the courage to do what is supposed to be done, who have leadership qualities that include sound fiscal policies and sound educational decisions.

I agree with anniej, that we need people to dig deep into the morass of Sweetwater's deal-making. Dots need to be connected, and responsible parties brought forward and brought to justice.

Imagine what Sweetwater would be like today if we hadn't had several decades of "me first leadership" accompanied by bad deal-making and clever agreements for all sorts of people to look away. I really wonder what the impact has been on the students. I hope they can all take what they have learned courtesy of the bad examples of board members. superintendents, other administrators, cafeteria personnel--all those who stole, double-dealed, and lied without compunction. Yes, learn from all those bad examples and do the opposite in their own lives. I just hope all the students will not walk away with the impression that all adults lie, cheat and steal.

Your are the real cost has been paid by teachers, students, and staff who have had to exist in this toxic environment.

cvlancer....everyone in this community has paid for the toxic environment that has permeated the district for so long ...property values, lack of respect for tax payers and citizens who attempted to participate in the public process...so much has been lost by the entire community, not just employees and students.

anniej, the Montgomery model needs to be part of a workshop perhaps, so all can see how a project can work within scope and budget.

About downsizing, I thought one comment made by trustee Hall the other night might be filed for further thought. She noted that the district used to have 3 internal auditors, if I remember correctly, but 2 fell to the recession.

Annie, your suggestion about down sizing and using the County has many around here very nervous. Karl Bradley who is highly respected could easily take over Tom's department and it would make the employees very happy. Things have changed around here with the new board and the tides have shifted. Departments like finance and facilities are rattled now that questions are being asked. Purchasing is an area that needs to be looked at too. Was the Harold Place lease signed?

miagd, I question your statement " The majority of the district knows who should be superintendent.". Who is this person?

I have a very hard time believing that anyone already "Known" in the area could walk into SUHSD and make a difference. All of our "Known" candidates have some link to the nepotistic, good old boys network of two bit ,movers and shakers here in the San Diego South Bay.

A nephew here, a wedding party there, here a link, there a contract....

We see a lot of well meaning people (On the surface) having past relations with many others of questionable ie potential profit motivation.

An open process to vet candidates with well written requirements and job description is the first step. Board control of the second level of staff is also of critical concern, those employees need to understand who they really work for, the board and the people not the superintendent.


As an ongoing thought, many organizations have commitees often headed up by a Board Member that oversee the operations. These commitees are made up of a senior staff person, a board member, labor (Teachers, staff) and qualified participants. Each Board Member should have a responsibility to the board to be "Up to Speed" on their commitees actions and recommendations. These commitees should be: - Finance - Facilities/Real Estate, - Staffing and Wages - Grants and Funding
- Curriculum and Programs

Note a commitee could create sub-commitees, but the Board member still has responsibility to report to the board and public.

Just a thought for added oversight, prior to hireing a new superintendent. BBQ

Your idea should be followed as it would help end the old partners in grime structure and provide more accountability and openness in addressing the problems and activities that anniej, eastlaker, oldchulares, and you have been writing about for long time!

BBQ - I think this is a superior suggestion, but wondered about the limits of board member activities in district operations. However, the Bylaws of the Board, in section 9000 (Role of the Board) seem to give the board wide responsibility beyond "employing the superintendent and setting policy for hiring other personnel." Sub-sections of section 9000 identify those areas for which the board has oversight responsibility and for monitoring thereof.

I think that the responsibility for 'monitoring' various functions of the district's operations as outlined in the Bylaws actually DEMANDS that the board take a proactive oversight role. I would suggest that the president of the board not be assigned a specific area of oversight, and that each of the four other members of the board each be responsible for one as you have suggested in your post.

The district is looking for an interim superintendent. I would suggest Admiral William Kowba. He is the immediate past Superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District. Reasons: (1) he just retired from the San Diego position, so he might be willing to be an interim. (2) He is not an educator, but a budget guru, so he would be perfect to straighten out the budget mess and the real estate mess left behind by Brand. (3) While not an educator, he was Superintendent of the San Diego schools long enough to have been an "educator" sufficient to manage the educational part of his job for a short time.

As opposed to Brand, when Lowba retired everyone seemed sorry to see him leave, but he seems to have built a firm foundation for the new Superintendent. And he would be free of the "cronyism" that seems to permeate South Bay politics.

AnnieJ - what are you so unsure of when you are one of the few truth tellers in this district? (Only my opinion) Facts are revealed by you. We thank you for your time and "opinion" which is always for the better, mainly fact. We love you for that; don't apologize for knowing what you know. Just what I was thinking.

shirleyberan - Hello my FRIEND - the reason I add that in is a self protection. After having a PI hired to investigate me and with others in the community who received cease and desist letters - I have been advised to protect myself - as, my words are simply my opinion.

*while I am more than confident the current Sup nor Board would never have done such a thing - there are others, who, well, I am not so sure of.

VigilantinCV - while I respect your opinion - I would offer up it is going to take judicial entities to unravel the L street web. Hope to see, at the end of the journey, those who practiced to deceive bite the dust. If Kowba is everything you say - anniej would welcome him.

F them annieJ, the dark ages are OVER, and this ain't Texas! Love You.

bbq- It would be wonderful if you would share your suggestion for Oversight during public comment at next Board meeting.

Sweetwater needed someone to guide the district until they found a new superintendent, and Tom Glover must have known that when he took the temporary position. His leaving prematurely so as to better his chances as a potential candidate for the permanent position demonstrates a lack of commitment to the district in favor of his personal gain. Everyone seems to agree that he's a great guy, but while "the jury is still out", as miagd wrote, this seemingly selfish act must be taken into account and his original intentions questioned.

re Tom Glover: It troubles me that Tom Glover elevated his brother, Tim, to an administrative position soon after being named interim super. Soon, thereafter, Tim applied to fill the vacancy on the Chula Vista City Council. The Glover twins show an exceptional eagerness to climb the political ladder. While this may be good for the brothers, I do not think this is what we need in the South Bay, either at the school district or the city level.

By all accounts Dr Glover has been doing a fantastic job as interim Superintendent. And it is not clear WHY he is not being allowed to stay on. I get the sense the new board wants one its cronies to run the administration of our schools. Something very fishy is going on here. If you thought this new board would be different, brave yourself for lots of upcoming cronyism.

Looking to be fair - I tend to believe people until they show me I erred in my judgement. Dr. Tom Glover is highly thought of by many many people. If he says he is stepping down in order to make the process transparent - I say we should take him at his word. I do NOT know Dr. Glover personally but many close to me do - he has brought peace to those who have been downtrodden by our past 2 Supers - they no longer live in fear. He is someone you can disagree with and he does not hold a grudge.

Sjtorres - as to your comment as to 'why he is not being allowed to stay' - IT WAS DR. GLOVER'S DECISION TO LEAVE. regarding your comment 'brave yourself for lots of upcoming cronyism' - in case you have not heard there are 5 new sheriffs in town - I have personally observed them in action - and while I have not agreed with every vote - so far so good - and, we are FREE AT LAST FROM THE SCURGE OF THE MAJORITY OF OUR PAST BOARD!!!! Let's all sing a line from HALLELUJAH!

VigilantinCV suggests Kowba as an interim "supe", and lavishes praise on him. The comment that "everyone seemed sorry to see him leave", when he retired isn't what I recall. Many folks were looking forward to a change. I always saw Kowba as the colorless sort of guy that he called himself, and also as an interim, caretaker sort of guy who kept that district afloat during the tough economic times. But as a leader or a visionary or as a particularly effective financial manager, he didn't stand out. His main accomplishment may have been having no big scandal during his time. Hmm, maybe that was a fairly large feat.

I'd hope Sweetwater can do better than him.

Long term, Sweetwater needs: a reasonable person who can communicate well with people from all backgrounds; someone who is interested in seeing the district through nightmarishly entangled real estate ventures and funding "issues"; someone willing to dig into the vastness of Sweetwater corruption and expose it for what it is; someone who has a real understanding of the concept of public education and fairness in public education; someone who recognizes that treating teachers, support staff, students and parents AND taxpayers with respect is the only way to go. For someone in this position as a short term caretaker, a reasonable person who plays fair and maintains a positive, honest approach and works to bring out the best in people (while doing some clearing away of those who are obstructionist, dishonest and have their own agenda) might not be such a bad thing. Sometimes people work quietly, and we don't really know what they have done, just that things are running smoothly. But I have no inside knowledge of Mr. Kowba.

What about Stan Canaris?

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