No one with a lick of sense would have put a teacher on administrative leave because
of the following report, but that is exactly what happened in Chula Vista Elementary
School District. Assistant Superintendent Richard Werlin stated under oath that the
cabinet, including himself, Libia Gil and Lowell Billings, approved all Werlin's actions
in this case.
Board members Cheryl Cox, Pamela Smith, Larry Cunningham, Bertha Lopez and
Patrick Judd backed him up, no matter how much money they had to spend on
lawyers to hide his violations of law and contract.
Her teacher helper Sandy was witness to this
S. O., my "teacher helper", did not back
up Mr. Smith on this.
Report about Maura Larkins
by Castle Park Elementary teacher "A. S."
[Note: This is the report that CVESD
submitted to the Office of
Administrative Hearings to justify
removing Maura Larkins from her
classroom in 2001.]
I am amazed that an adult would document this statement
("We need to be positive") in an effort to get the speaker of
that statement fired. And it's even more amazing that he
It's also astonishing that Mr. S. believed that saying "We
need to be positive" was grounds for firing a teacher. It's
even more amazing that Cheryl Cox, Pamela Smith, Bertha
Lopez, Patrick Judd and Larry Cunningham agreed with him.
I worry that Mr. S. might not be in the right occupation. I also
worry that Cheryl Cox, Pamela Smith, Bertha Lopez, Patrick
Judd and Larry Cunningham are also in positions
inappropriate to their inclinations.
* * *
Mrs. Larkins was late to swimming, even after
it had been discussed that the lunch staff had to
have us back as soon as possible. She was late
getting to the pool and I was asked where the
rest of the children were by staff at the site.
She was late getting back to lunch again and
does not want her children walking with mine?
This problem was discussed at the 3rd grade
team meeting/the principal and lunch staff
person and union representative were present.
She agreed to try to get the children back on
time. It was discussed ways to save time: no
snacks, playing, on the way back, and that the
children could leave their towels outside the
room on return to school to allow them to get
to the lunch room earlier.
She told me that I needed to pick up their
things and bring them outside--She told me,
"My children are not unmanageable, I replied
that I never said that!
I ask Maura if she would mind telling the
children that they need to bring their things
outside the locker room during lesson so they
are not stolen.
I asked her if it would be ok if I talked to
her children about this or would she like to
do it herself. Her reply was that she didn't
know which ones didn't bring out their
things. Could I go and get them. When I
said I would check them but they need to do
it themselves she went to one of my
children's parents and asked them to get the
items. That I wouldn't.
This statement is either a result of Mr. S.'s confusion, or
an outright falsehood, or a combination of the two.
Mr. S. refused my polite request for his help in
safeguarding the shoes and clothing of two boys who
were receiving swimming instruction. He believed that
my two third-grade boys had willfully disregarded his
general announcement that clothes should be brought
out to the pool area.
Mr. S. became emotional when I said that my
Spanish-speaking students might not have heard him or
understood him, since they would have no reason to
intentionally leave their clothes where they might get
It is a sad fact that, although anti-Mexican prejudice
was rare at the other three schools in Chula Vista
where I taught, it is rampant at Castle Park Elementary.
I myself am not Mexican, but I was a bilingual teacher,
and at Castle Park, bilingual teachers, as well as our
students, have been frequently targeted by other
teachers for harassment.
They are only children and she was doing
that in the girls locker room.
I told Mr. S that I believe children sometimes
need help. I said that I gave a lot of help to
his students in the girls' locker room when
they lost track of their belongings.
Maura Larkins made this statement ("We need to be
positive") after Mr. S. exhibited some hostile behavior
toward children. She also thought that it was dangerous
having a very long line of kids crossing the street at one time
because cars tried to drive through the gaps between
children. She thought it would be safer to have separate
clusters of children cross.
This is true. I said I would be happy to
remind my students about this.
Her teacher helper Sandy was witness to this
"On the way to swimming-She [Maura
Larkins] told me, "We need to be positive."
All I said was that the children were not
listening to directions very well today."
* * *
It is a disgrace to the educational system in San Diego
that Mr. S.'s silly document was actually produced by
education lawyers as proof that I should be dismissed.
It is a further disgrace that district lawyers weren't
laughed out of the Office of Administrative Hearings.
I reluctantly respond to these odd allegations in order
to inform the public about what is going on at CTA,
CVESD and other parts of the educational establishment
In fact, about ten minutes after Mr. S. refused to
retrieve the belongings, a parent arrived and I asked
him if he would mind going into the boys' locker room
and bringing out the articles of clothing that two of my
boys had left behind. He was happy to do so, and
started to go, but Mr. S., who was quite a distance
away, came hurrying forward to stop him.
I did not mention to the parent that Mr. S. had refused
to get the clothing. My guess is that paranoia (and
guilt) caused Mr. S. to imagine that I had told the
parent what had happened.
"She said, she thought it would be better if
we didn't bring the children to the pool
together. "It was to (sic) dangerous having
so many children walking together."
The punctuation, spelling and
syntax below are copied from the
typewritten report (see above)
prepared by A. S., including
hyphens, dashes, and spelling.]
This is true. Part of the reason I was late was
that I was trying to stay behind Mr. Smith to
avoid his hostile and aggressive behavior.
Earlier in the week, as our two classes
walked back to school together from the pool,
I stopped to take some weight off a child
whose backpack was too heavy. Mr. S., who
was behind my class with his children,
became angry at the delay, and, staring at me
the entire time, marched forward, right out
into the street, without looking for cars.
Fortunately, there were no cars, and none of
the children followed him into the street. Mr.
S. charged at me angrily on two additional
occasions. Because of this, I felt it was not
safe to walk with him.
I also believe safety is compromised when
too many children cross a street at one time.
There are often gaps in the line, and
impatient drivers sometimes try to drive
through the empty spaces between the
|Below is a letter to principal Gretchen Donndelinger from
Maura Larkins which CVESD did NOT submit to OAH.
|"...Rick Werlin said he would guarantee
my safety, but he apparently had no
intention of doing so.
"Al Smith charged toward me, and
passed close by me, three times this
A teacher who contributed to the downward spiral of Castle Park Elementary
School, a descent that culminated in a media frenzy about the "Castle Park Five,"
gives us a look into the workings of his mind. Here is the "Documentation" he
submitted to CVESD:
Mr. S.: "They are only children and she was doing that in the
girls locker room."
Doing what in the girls' locker room?
Answer: Helping girls from Mr. S's class keep track of their
Why was this a problem for Mr. S? Because he didn't want to
have to help boys from Maura Larkins' class keep track of their
belongings when he was in charge of them in the boys locker
Mr. S apparently resented Maura Larkins' saying "They are only
children." And he didn't like being asked to put in as much effort
as Maura Larkins was putting in.
This bizarre report from Castle Park Elementary teacher A.S. is
result of his anger over the fact that two of Maura Larkins'
8-year-old male students had left their clothes in the locker
room instead of bringing them out to the deck of the swimming
Mr. S said angrily that he had told the boys (who did not speak
English) that they should take their clothes outside. Mr. S
wanted to deprive the two boys of their swimming lesson.
Maura Larkins told Mr. S. that she was giving a lot of help to his
students in the girls' locker room when they lost track of their
belongings, and she believed that her two students were no
more guilty of intentional wrongdoing than his students were.
But who would ever guess that this is what Mr. S was trying to
say when he wrote, "They are only children and she was doing
that in the girls' locker room"? Shockingly, Mr. S has been
assigned to teach writing to children in CVESD!
Mr. S: "They are only
children and she was doing
that in the girls locker room."
Mr. S might have caused
a serious problem if the
students had followed
him into the street when
he did not even check
for traffic. But the kids
did not follow him.
|San Diego Education Report