The Castle Park Five
The Castle Park Five were a group of teachers transferred out of Castle Park
Elementary School in Chula Vista Elementary School District in August 2004.
The teachers in the school had triggered serious legal problems for the district in
February 2001, and the district had spent $100,000s on their defense.
The district struggled to calm the school, but it turned out to have been a bad
decision to support teachers who had violated multiple laws. The teachers, who in
2004 began calling themselves the "Castle Park Family", were determined to
control the school, disregarding all authority. Castle Park Elementary School
averaged one new principal each year for about a decade during the power struggle.
These teachers had the support of Beverly Tucker, the chief counsel of the California
Teachers Association (CTA), who wields enormous power. Tucker seems to be the
real power in CTA, controlling even the "elected" president. (CTA President Barbara
Kerr was called the "third most powerful" person in California in 2003.) Tucker's
loyal henchman in Chula Vista, Jim Groth, was chosen as a statewide director of CTA.
Jim Groth managed to insert one of the Castle Park Five teachers, Peg Myers, into
his position as president of Chula Vista Educators (CVE) when he resigned to become
a CTA director.
THE 2004 TRANSFER COMPLICATED BY SIMULTANEOUS COVER-UP
In 2004 superintendent Lowell Billings transferred five teachers in an attempt to
make it possible for principal Ollie Matos to run the school effectively. In the end
this attempt proved fruitless, thanks to the remaining teachers and Chula Vista
Educators, as well as the need of Billings and the school board to continue to cover
up the wrongdoing they had supported since 2001. Don Sevrens, an editor at the
San Diego Union Tribune, helped cover up the lawsuit involving several of the Castle
Park Five at the same time that he wrote anonymous stories about the transfer.
Sevrens coined the phrase, "Castle Park Five." Linda Rosas at the Chula Vista
Star-News also published a series of stories attacking principal Ollie Matos at the
same time that she refused to publish the story of the wrongdoing that teacher Robin
Donlan had initiated, and other teachers expanded (see Linda Watson report, Jo
Ellen Hamilton report, and Alan Smith report).
School district lawyers were pressuring the Castle Park Five teachers to avoid
telling the truth at depositions (see Peg Myers deposition, Robin Donlan Deposition;
also former CVE president Gina Boyd deposition) at the same time that the board
was transferring the teachers. The teachers clearly had no respect for their
co-conspirators in the district office. The teachers had called the shots for years and
were apparently not inclined to suddenly become docile.
|2007 Lawsuit Against
and former President
Gina Boyd and Castle
Park teacher Linda
Blog post about San Diego Union-Tribune
coverage of Castle Park Elementary School
Maura Larkins comment:
The Castle Park Elementary site council and PTA "heads" who
slammed their principal in this story were Felicia Starr and Kimberlee
The San Diego Union Tribune was also guilty of slanted reporting by editor Don Sevrens.
Kim Simmons was elected in 2004 because Felicia Starr wanted someone she could
control in charge of the PTA. Starr, a parent representative on the site council, made sure
that Latino parents didn't get a vote. She engaged in hostilities against Latino parents
who had innocently tried to nominate a candidate.
As a result of the embezzlement (the second discovered at Castle Park
Elementary within 6 years), there has been no PTA at the school from
Arrest of PTA President Kim Simmons, who was closely
involved with "Castle Park Family", for embezzlement
Little or no oversight leaves school, sports groups at risk
By Leonel Sanchez and Brent
San Diego Union Tribune
August 26, 2007
"CHULA VISTA: The former president of the Parent Teacher Association at Castle Park
Elementary was arrested in November on suspicion of stealing up to $20,000...No criminal
charges were filed...Castle Park's PTA was disbanded."
The "Castle Park Five"
|San Diego Education Report
In my experience,
once a teaching
staff has tasted
blood, it It's sort of
like feeding red
meat to your pet