May 2016
'''
San Diego Education Report
Jan 2016
San Ysidro School District was wise to make a peremptory challenge
against Judge Judith Hayes.


San Ysidro Schools lawsuit (taken from the San Diego Superior Court Register of Actions July
5, 2015):


03/30/2015        Case reassigned from Judge Hayes, Judith F. to Richard
Strauss effective 03/30/2015                Notice of Case Reassignment SD     
   

03/30/2015        Civil Case Management Conference scheduled for 10/30/2015 at 09:30:00 AM at
Central in C-68 Judith F. Hayes was vacated.                        

03/30/2015        Peremptory Challenge (Granted) filed by San Ysidro School
District.   
     San Ysidro School District (Plaintiff)              

03/19/2015        Civil Case Management Conference scheduled for 10/30/2015 at 09:30:00 AM at
Central in C-68 Judith F. Hayes.                        

03/17/2015        Case assigned to Judicial Officer Hayes, Judith.       

03/17/2015        Complaint filed by San Ysidro School District.
Refers to: Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz; Shinoff, Daniel        San Ysidro School District (Plaintiff)       

[Later events:]
Case Number:         37-2015-00009253-CU-PN-CTL         
Date Filed:         03/17/2015                 
Case Title:     San Ysidro School District vs. Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz  
 
Case Status:         All Proceedings Stayed    
             
Case Category:         Civil - Unlimited         Location:         Central                 
Case Type:         Professional Negligence         
Judicial Officer:         Richard E. L. Strauss                 

Future Events
11/06/2015        10:30 AM        C-75        Civil Case Management Conference

Participants

San Ysidro School District        Plaintiff        Vess, Bryan CVESS,
BRYAN C         402 W BROADWAY 29th Floor SAN DIEGO CA 92101

Shinoff, Daniel R        Defendant        BERTSCHE, CORINNE C
Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz        Defendant        BERTSCHE, CORINNE C
BERTSCHE, CORINNE C         SCHONFELD & BERTSCHE LLP 110 West A Street 615 SAN DIEGO CA 92101        (619) 544-8300

Partial Register of Actions:

06/17/2015        Order After Hearing (Order Granting Motion to compel
Arbitration and Stay of Action) filed by Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz.
Refers to: San Ysidro School District
March 2015
March 2015
March 2014
Ulloa vs. San Ysidro School District   
Location:         Central                 
Case Type:         Other employment         
Judicial Officer:         Ronald S. Prager                 

Name                                         Role                       Representation
Brown, Jennifer         Defendant             Shinoff, Daniel R
Madera, Gloria          Defendant             Shinoff, Daniel R
Paul, Manuel             Defendant             Shinoff, Daniel R
San Ysidro Schools   Defendant        Coady, Patrice M; Shinoff, Daniel R


Former Stutz attorney Lee Patajo, who worked on the Ulloa
case, now works at Liebert Cassidy Whitmore.
 His bio at LCW
states:

"Before joining Liebert Cassidy Whitmore's
Los Angeles office, Lee was an associate
attorney for a San Diego-based firm where
he handled several matters for public-sector clients,
including employment and property-liability claims."]


I found the following on the Superior Court
Registrar of Actions in this case:
03/14/2014
Disassociation of Attorney (Lee T. Patajo)
filed by San Ysidro School District;
Madera, Gloria;
Paul, Manuel; Brown, Jennifer.

Here are the lawyers for Carlos Ulloa:

Ulloa, Carlos      Plaintiff          Gardiner, Michael A;
                               Simpson, Jayme;
                               Simpson, Sean Dntity
November 2013
Familiar issues in
school board race

7 are vying for 3 seats in
San Ysidro district
By Chris Moran
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF
WRITER
October 4, 2006

SAN YSIDRO – The issues
haven't changed much in
recent years in San Ysidro
schools – unsatisfactory test
scores, children who don't
speak English, old schools
and sometimes-testy
relations among school
board members.


Seven candidates for
three seats on the
board – incumbents
Yolanda Hernandez,
Sandy Lopez and Jean
Romero and
challengers John
Canillas, Tim Gomez,
Carol Guadiana and
Sonia Romero
differ
primarily on whether they
believe incumbents or new
faces are the ones to fix
things.

The kindergarten-through-
eighth-grade district has
seven schools and a budget
of $40 million. The chief
spending debate is over
how to allocate building
money, which is not part of
the annual budget.

Although Jean Romero said
she has no problem with her
fellow incumbents, she has
bought into the movement
for new blood by agreeing to
run as a teachers-union-
endorsed slate with Sonia
Romero (no relation to Jean
Romero) and Carol
Guadiana.

Jean Romero, 63, a
food-sales
representative, also has the
endorsements of
Hernandez, Lopez, San
Ysidro schools trustee
Raquel Márquez-Maden, San
Diego Councilman Ben
Hueso and U.S. Rep.
Bob Filner.

What's at stake
Seven candidates are
running for three seats on
the five-member San Ysidro
School District board. The
top three vote-getters will
win four-year terms. The
board oversees an annual
budget of $40 million plus
the spending on school
construction of $250 million
raised through the sale of
bonds authorized by voters
who approved a 1997 ballot
measure. The district has
5,100 kindergarten-through-
eighth-grade students at
seven schools.


Romero had announced
that after 13 years on the
board she would not run for
an additional term, but
changed her mind in part to
oversee the rebuilding of
Willow Elementary School.
She said she recognizes the
need to build a new school
for the neighborhoods east
of Interstate 805, but, “my
No. 1 priority is rebuilding
Willow (Elementary School)
first.”

The school is more than 50
years old. It has a leaky
roof, rust on buildings,
inadequate restrooms,
termites and a small
cafeteria that forces the
school to have lunch in
shifts.

Hernandez, who also
considered not running for a
fourth four-year term after
the recent death of her
daughter, said the
conditions she found at
Willow during a recent tour
brought her to tears. She
said her eyes stung from the
smell and humidity in some
classrooms.

“We need to fix the old ones
before we build new
schools,” said
Hernandez,
57, a retired school
secretary.

She has endorsements
from the AFL-CIO, state
Assemblyman Juan
Vargas, Filner, challenger
Gomez and Casa
Familiar's executive
director, Andrea Skorepa.

Incumbent Lopez said, “The
rebuilding of Willow School
is something that I'm anxious
to be part of.”

Lopez, a 62-year-old
medical transcriber, is
endorsed by Hernandez, the
AFL-CIO and Skorepa in her
quest for a second
consecutive term. She also
served a term in the 1990s.

Guadiana, 26, a substitute
teacher who attended Willow
Elementary and other San
Ysidro schools, also said
her priority is to rebuild old
schools. In fact, providing
better facilities in San
Ysidro's older communities
will slow the cross-freeway
migration of students that's
crowding Ocean View Hills
School, she argued.

Guadiana said she was
“mortified” by Willow's
condition.

Gomez also mentioned
facilities as a problem.

“We have a lot of old
schools in our district, and
those need to be brought up
to standard,” he said. “A
good, positive environment
does a lot for our students.”

Sonia Romero, 35, an
emergency-room secretary,
couldn't be reached for an
interview. Canillas, a former
South Bay Union School
District board member, was
invited by the teachers
union to run for the board
but didn't receive its
endorsement.

“Technically, I guess, I'd be
withdrawing from the race
because I'm not
campaigning,” said Canillas,
39, an account manager for
an educational software
company.

In a district where two-thirds
of the 5,100 students
between kindergarten and
eighth grade don't speak
English fluently,
conversations about
academic improvement
generally center on teaching
English.

Jean Romero said the
current three-year timeline
for students to learn English
must be accelerated. She
also supports consideration
of a program that would put
native English speakers
learning Spanish and native
Spanish speakers learning
English together in the same
classroom.

Lopez said she believes the
current timeline is
reasonable and that the
district leaders need to
promote a greater respect
for children's native
language.

“It's a matter of self-
respect,” she said. “You
have to instill in any child in
any culture respect for
themselves and their
parents.”

Hernandez said San Ysidro
schools are doing an
excellent job teaching and
that there's proof of it in
high student scores on
Spanish-language tests.

“I'm the only real
Mexican – 100 percent
– on the board,”
she
said, adding that as an
immigrant she knows how
difficult it is to learn English.
She doesn't recommend
major changes to teaching
English learners.

Guadiana, who entered San
Ysidro schools not speaking
English, recommended
accelerating the learning of
English by making it the
language of instruction 80
percent of the time by
second grade. That's the
first year that students take
state tests that determine
school rankings.

Gomez, 41, a notary public
who lives in Ocean View
Hills, talks more about
leadership than literacy. He
ran for the San Diego City
Council last year and in
2005, and said the
resignation in disgrace of
Councilman Ralph Inzunza
was indicative of a lack of
leadership in South County.

“I think we need to start
sending a message in the
Hispanic community that
we're not all like that,” he
said.

Gomez also criticized the
board for its fractured
relationships. He said
divisions on the board trickle
down and ultimately impede
classroom learning. He
pledged to not just attend
monthly meetings but to visit
schools to build
relationships with employees.

The board has had several
high-profile conflicts in
recent years. Romero
tearfully tried to resign the
board presidency last year
over frustration with
infighting. The board didn't
accept her resignation.

In 2004, Hernandez
distributed a news release
accusing fellow board
members of violating the
state's open-meeting law.
Later that year, the board
publicly discussed possible
conflict-of-interest charges
against Hernandez because
the bus company she owns,
which is run by her sons,
transported district children
on a field trip. The board
refused to pay the $3,990
bill.

This year Hernandez, Lopez
and Romero, over the
objections of the other two
trustees and against the
recommendation of district
Superintendent Tim Allen,
added a job to the payroll and
transferred Sweetwater Union
High School District board
member Pearl Quiñones from
her job at Willow to Smythe
Elementary School.

All candidates were invited
to the Union-Tribune  offices
to be photographed.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Chris Moran: (619) 498-
6637; chris.
moran@uniontrib.com  
"...This year Hernandez, Lopez and
Romero, over the objections of the
other two trustees and against the
recommendation of district
Superintendent Tim Allen, added a
job to the payroll and transferred
Sweetwater Union High School
District board member Pearl
Quiñones from her job at Willow to
Smythe Elementary School..."
Questions emerge about
prospective chief of
schools
By Chris Moran
SDUT
August 16, 2007

The man who may be hired as San
Ysidro's superintendent today has
presided over large test-score gains for
the past five years in another border
district where two-thirds of students don't
speak English fluently.

He also was paid to leave two previous
superintendent jobs and left early from a
third. He nearly lost his current
superintendent job in October when the
Calexico Unified School District board split
3-2 on whether to extend his contract.

The San Ysidro School District board
announced Aug. 1 that it intends to hire
David Alvarez as its next superintendent.
The decision is contingent on the results of
a visit two board members made this month
to Calexico Unified School District, where
Alvarez has been superintendent since
2002, and agreement on salary.

Since Alvarez has led the 9,400-student
Calexico district, its schools have shown
substantial and steady growth in their state
academic ratings. Nearly every school has
improved its rating every year of Alvarez's
tenure.

There has been some controversy, too.
Alvarez used a district credit card to make
$1,400 in personal purchases in 2005. He
repaid the district months later.

Calexico board President Enrique Alvarado
said Alvarez did nothing illegal.

“If he would have done anything wrong and
violated anything with his credit cards, he'd
be in jail,” Alvarado said. The board
president praised Alvarez for his
leadership and said he'd bring “a wealth of
information” about educating non-English-
speaking students.

Alvarez left his previous superintendent job
in Gilroy under circumstances that remain
unclear. Newspaper accounts report that
board members raised questions about his
management of district finances, including
a $641,000 bookkeeping error by a district
clerk.

Alvarez said he asked the board not to
extend his contract, and he left the district
a month early. Former Gilroy board
members contacted this week refused to
comment on the circumstances
surrounding his departure.

Before Gilroy, Alvarez was bought out of a
contract at Chino Unified School District.
He was also bought out of a contract as
superintendent of Coachella Unified School
District in 1990.

“The San Ysidro School District has since
come to understand Mr. Alvarez's record
since our initial selection and is continuing
to look into it further prior to making any
final decisions,” board President Paul
Randolph said yesterday.

Alvarez said his departures have been
caused by politics, not performance.

“When you walk into a superintendent's
position, the board that hires you may not
be the same board you'll be working with in
three to five years,” Alvarez said. “They
have a right as a public stakeholder to hire
the superintendent they want to work with.”

Zenaida Rosario, a teacher at La Mirada
Elementary School who was the state's
teacher of the year in 2004, has written to
the San Ysidro board that the accounts of
Alvarez's itinerant career she has read on
Internet blogs worry her.

“San Ysidro deserves better. I am tired of
reading all the negative press about the
superintendents that come and go and
who gets cheated? Our children,” Rosario
wrote in an e-mail to the board.

Randolph said he received “multiple”
letters from teachers concerning Alvarez's
candidacy, all of them raising concerns.

The board is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m.
today at the district headquarters, 4350
Otay Mesa Road, in San Ysidro.
School district stays local in picking
superintendent
By Chris Moran
SDUT
November 10, 2007

SAN YSIDRO – Manuel Paul is the
new San Ysidro School District
superintendent.

The school board voted
unanimously late Thursday to
appoint Paul, who has served as
interim superintendent since August.


Paul, 56, attended San Ysidro
schools as a child and has worked
for the district for 33 years.
“It's a dream come true for me,” he
said. “I started my education in this
district. I started my professional life
as a teacher here. I want to retire
from here.”

The board has spent nine months in
search of a leader for the district,
which serves 5,200 students in
kindergarten through eighth grade.
San Ysidro's seven schools
have been without a
permanent leader since
January, when then-
Superintendent Tim Allen
accepted another job.

San Ysidro's board brought back
former Superintendent Gilbert
Anzaldua to run the district, then
hired the executive search firm for
which Anzaldua worked to help find
a permanent successor.

Paul applied for the superintendent
job in the spring but was not
granted an interview. The board
announced in August that it
intended to hire Calexico schools
chief David Alvarez. Two weeks
later, it reversed course after
learning that Alvarez left other
superintendent jobs before his
contract had expired.

At a closed-session meeting in
August, the board decided to
withdraw its offer to Alvarez, then
announced that it had named a
surprised Paul interim
superintendent.

Paul said he and the board agreed
Thursday night to a three-year
contract that would pay him
$160,000 a year.

By also appointing Jennifer Brown
as assistant superintendent for
human resources, the board has
filled every top leadership position
for the first time in a year. Later this
month, Gloria Madera, principal at
John A. Otis School in National City,
will join the San Ysidro district as
assistant superintendent for
educational services.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Chris Moran: (619) 498-6637; chris.
moran@uniontrib.com
"...San Ysidro's seven schools
have been without a permanent
leader since January, when
then- Superintendent Tim Allen
accepted another job.
.."
San Diego Education Report
SDER
San Diego
Education Report
SDER
SDER
SDER
San Diego Education Report
SDER
San Diego
Education Report
SDER
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SDER
San Ysidro School District
Central
05/06/11 01:45PM C-73    
Denton, Steven R.             
Civil Case Mana
37-2010-00
104942-CU-PO-CTL     
D)San Ysidro School Distric
Daniel R Shinoff         
Martha Gomez vs. San
Ysidro School District
County of San Diego        (D)        
Julie R Dann
Martha Gomez        (P)        
Lorraine M Nisbet
Maxim Healthcare Services Inc        
(D)       
San Ysidro School District        (D)        
Daniel R Shinoff
South County
12/02/11 08:35AM S-04    
Cannon, William S.   
Motion Hearing  
37-2010-000
75138-CU-WM-SC  
  
R)San Ysidro School Distric
Daniel R Shinoff
Central
08/24/12 10:30AM C-73    
Denton, Steven R.              
Motion to Quash
37-2012-000
95758-CU-BC-CTL  
   
D)San Ysidro School Distric
Daniel R Shinoff         
09/21/12 01:45PM C-73  
Civil Case Mana
37-2012-00095758-CU-BC-CTL     D)San
Ysidro School Distric Daniel R Shinoff       
Ubaldo Gutierrez vs. City of
San Diego, San Ysidro
School District
12/21/12 10:00AM C-65    
Lewis, Joan M.                 
Trial Readiness
37-2011-00097687-CU-PO-CTL     
D)San Ysidro School Distric
Daniel R Shinoff  
       
PLAINTIFF represented by
DARAL MAZZARELLA
SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Lawsuits
Solar Power Company Sues San Ysidro School District
By Susan Luzzaro
San Diego Reader
June 19, 2012

President Obama’s 2008 election brought money and emphasis to alternative
energy in the United States. For some former lobbyists and politicians, this
emphasis became an entrepreneurial opportunity.

A 2009 article in the Sacramento Business Journal reported that former lieutenant
governor Cruz Bustamante and a former San Diego port commissioner joined Go
Green Consultants LLC to partner with solar-panel installers to “reduce school
districts’ and other municipalities’ energy bills and dependence on the power grid.”

Political consultant and lobbyist Art Castañares also went into the solar-panel
business.
Castañares was a former aide to Steve Peace and the consultant
behind Cheryl Cox’s 2006 election to mayor of Chula Vista.

In 2008, the San Ysidro School District signed a contract with Castañares’s
business, Manzana Energy, which allowed the company to build solar panels on the
school sites and sell the electricity generated by the panels.

According to a 2008 Union-Tribune article, the district agreed to buy “all the power
the panels generate over 25 years for a flat fee of $18.9 million. Manzana will pay
$16 million to buy and install the panels.”

But, no panels have been installed and no power generated. Why not? And why
has Manzana (also known as EcoBusiness) filed a lawsuit against the San Ysidro
School District for “compensatory damages” that may exceed $17 million?

Castañares says there have been unanticipated problems in getting the panels in
place. During a June 18 interview, Castañares said the initial idea was to put
Manzana’s panels on school building roofs. However, the company found the roofs
would not support the weight of the panels and began to work on designs for
alternative locations.

But, by October 2011, the district had had enough. San Ysidro’s attorney, Dan
Shinoff, commented, "Since 2008, when the district entered into a contract with the
company, the only thing done was to clear a lot for a photo op."

Referring to the same lot, Castañares argues that it rained shortly after his
company cleared the four-acre site in 2010. The rain revealed a drainage problem,
which delayed the project further.

Castañares said his company has maintained an office in the district since 2009.
He can’t understand why the district didn’t come to them to resolve the problems
rather than abruptly terminating the contract.

Castañares believes Manzana/Ecobusiness has a strong suit because they were
not terminated according to contract language and because, Castañares says, “We
have a good law firm that has successfully sued a lot of public agencies.”
Castañares added, “We begged them to arbitrate; it makes me sick to have to do
this to a school district.”

When asked if Manzana has any solar-generating projects up and running,
Castañares said “not yet,” though he is working on one with the YMCA.

[Maura Larkins' note: A deposition in this lawsuit led to
Superintendent Manuel
Paul's admission that he had taken $2,500 from another contractor.]
Blog posts San Ysidro School
District
Choosing superintendents
The story below is very sympathetic to San Ysidro School District, but keep in mind
that the superintendent and one board member have been indicted for taking
$2,500 cash in an envelope from a contractor.
Armas v. SDCOE, La Prensa
Munoz (Dan Shinoff)
TIMELINE: Former San Ysidro
Superintendent Emails To Staff


By Wendy Fry
NBC 7 San Diego
Jul 29, 2013                                                  Manuel Paul in a still image captured
                                                 from a deposition he made in a
                                                         separate federal investigation.

Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013: San Ysidro school board places Paul on paid
administrative leave.

Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013:
San Ysidro Middle School Principal David Torres emails
Paul the day after the superintendent was placed on paid administrative leave.
Torres offers support to Paul.

Torres to Paul: “Thanks for being so strong last night. We all know things will work
out in the end and all those naysayers will have to deal with their flawed judgment
and uncalled for ‘plebe’ comments at a later time.”

Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013: Former San Ysidro Superintendent Manuel Paul emails his
former administrative assistant and
asks her to forward information on
a class-action lawsuit to the district’s
outside counsel. She
writes back on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2013 the task is “done.”

[Maura Larkins' comment: I believe that all attorneys representing the district are  
"outside counsel" since San Ysidro School District does not have in-house lawyers.  
In addition to Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Hotlz, the district has a contract with Best, Best
& Krieger, and probably other law firms.]

Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013: Paul emails the personnel department to instruct them to
allow a new hire to start work the next day.

Friday, Jan. 25, 2013: Paul emails San Ysidro trustee Antonio Martinez to discuss
Liam Dillon’s article in Voice of San Diego about an incomplete sidewalk along Otay
Mesa Road creating safety concerns for students.  

Monday, Jan. 28, 2013: Paul emails his administrative assistant to tell her he is
attending a community planning meeting and
will stop by his district office after
the meeting.

Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013:
Paul emails then-Human Resources Director Jason
Romero
instructing him to check with legal counsel if information on a San
Ysidro Education Vanguard Foundation could be added to the district’s
website.

Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013: Paul emails the district’s Finance Director Dena
Whittington instructing her to “look into” a request for information by the San Diego
County Taxpayer’s Association

Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013: Board President Jason Wells emails Paul,
asking him to stop issuing directives to staff and refrain
from visiting district offices.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013: Paul emails Architect Paul Bunton to
discuss a proposed redesign of Beyer Elementary school.

"They totally redesigned the project. Beyer school will have a mission flavor, but
totally different from your original design," Paul wrote.

In a South County corruption case,
Bunton, 54, pleaded guilty in
March 2012 to aiding in the commission of a misdemeanor
because school officials did not list the meals and gifts he
provided on state-mandated reporting forms.

Saturday, February 16, 2013: Paul emails Interim Superintendent Gloria Madera
and then-Human Resources Director Jason Romero instructing them to have
principals and department heads conduct training on child abuse reporting
requirements.  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013: Paul emails Interim Superintendent Gloria Madera
instructing her to ask the area principals if any students attended a field trip to Old
Town.


Saturday, March 2, 2013:
Paul emails outside legal counsel Dan Shinoff about a
translated statement from Studio K printer shop in Tijuana.
The store sent a
statement, which appears to have been
translated and forwarded along by
private investigator
Bob Price.

Studio K’s translated statement says:

“Manuel Paul first requested an estimate dated 8/19/2010 in the name of Gareth
Maden for posters $1401.

Manuel Paul returned and added the extra posters for Jason
Wells $2301 in the name of Hugo Alonso Inc. Manuel Paul
said that the donation was anonymous but the anonymous
person wanted the receipt in the name of Hugo Alonso Inc.”

Paul emails Shinoff to state the translation is fair but it leaves some information out.


Thursday, March 7, 2013: Paul writes to his former administrative assistant
instructing her to send him agendas and minutes.

“Thank you, please keep sending me agendas and minutes as you have them
ready,” Paul writes.

Friday, March 8, 2013: Paul writes to Director of Business Support Services Cesar
Vega that he will be sending him a “letter of recommendation” soon.

“You always conducted yourself very honorably, and worked like a true
team-player and that goes very high in my book
,” Paul writes.

Vega wrote to Paul earlier that same day stating if Paul was not returning to the
district, he did not want to work in San Ysidro either:  

“On the other hand, in the event that you decide not to comeback, personally, I feel
that it would be time for me to move on as well. In fact, the reason I have stayed
here in San Ysidro for six years now is because I believe in you and your leadership
to guide us in the right direction,” Vega wrote.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013: Paul writes Director of Business Support Services Cesar
Vega in Spanish.

“Te mande la carta con mi hija Alexandra. Ella trabaja en la Escuela Smythe en el
salón #7. Si quieres pasa por allí y ella te la da. Si necesitas que la haga algún
cambio me dices y con mucho gusto. Suerte!!,” Paul writes.

A rough translation is: “I sent the letter with my daughter Alexandra. She teaches at
Smythe Elementary in Room 7. If you want to stop by there, she’ll give it to you. If
you need any changes just tell me and I gladly will. Good luck!”

Wednesday, March 13, 2013: Paul emails San Ysidro Middle School Principal David
Torres stating his disapproval of a recent budget decision.

“I am beyond being disappointed of Gloria,” Paul writes of Interim Superintendent
Gloria Madera. “And to give these excuses for cutting Aps, pleeeease! (sic) I’ll have
a letter for you in a few days. Send me some bullet points to include on the letter.
Hang in there (for now.)

Monday, March 18, 2013: Paul hands in his letter of resignation.

Monday, April 1, 2013: Paul offers positive reinforcement for a video circulating
about a turnaround student at San Ysidro Middle School. “Wow great work,” he
writes. “Please congratulate the entire staff for their focus and accomplishments and
kudos to Lorena and Veronica for sharing your story with the rest of the county.”

Thursday, April 4, 2013: Paul accepts an invitation to attend a June 20 breakfast
event put on by the San Diego Army Advisory Council for area superintendents.  

Thursday, April 4, 2013: The San Ysidro School Board votes to accept Paul's
resignation.

Monday, April 8, 2013: Paul emails his former administrative assistant to say he was
sending $2 in with his daughter, who works at Smythe Elementary in the district. The
money is to participate in the office lottery pool.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013: Paul emails district coordinator Kim Nisson to say he is
very proud her and that she's doing a good job.

Friday, April 19, 2013: Paul emails more than 20 San Ysidro School District staff
congratulating them on student math achievement.
November 2013
November 2013
San Ysidro School District
wants no mention of
cash handoff,
burned records
or criminal charges
in San Ysidro Schools case


Interestingly, reporter Aaron Bergin, who wrote about the burned records, has been
laid-off from the San Diego Union-Tribune.  In addition, the
teacher who blew the
whistle about the burned documents was placed on administrative leave.

Our tax dollars for schools are hard at work in San Ysidro School District.  The
District is telling the Superior Court that the burning of district records had nothing to
do with a pending $18 million lawsuit about San Ysidro School District's decision to
drop a contractor.

The District also claims that a cash handout from a contractor to Superintendent
Manuel Paul sheds no light on how San Ysidro officials make decisions about
contractors!

Both Mr. Shinoff's law firm, Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz, and the California Bar
Association agree that public entity lawyers are only beholden to the public officials
they represent.

School lawyers are paid tax dollars to keep events in schools secret from the courts
and the voters, helping board members and administrators retain power and keeping
voters clueless at election time.

I think a school district belongs to the people who pay for it and the people for whose
benefit it was created, not to the officials and others who have obtained power in its
hierarchy.

P.S. I am wondering why the San Diego Union-Tribune laid off Watchdog reporter
Aaron Bergin right after he exposed Fagen Friedman Fulfrost's shenanigans at
Carlsbad School District. SDUT owner Doug Manchester doesn't want his Watchdogs
to actually cause changes in schools, it appears.

San Ysidro tries to limit testimony
District wants cash handoff, criminal charges excluded from civil matter
By Jeff McDonald
SDUT
Nov. 17, 2013

Manuel Paul, 61, San Ysidro schools superintendent, is accused of filing false
documents, perjury, and accepting gifts above state limits Manuel Paul, 61, San
Ysidro schools superintendent, is accused of filing false documents, perjury, and
accepting gifts above state limits.

Lawyers for the San Ysidro School District filed several motions last week in an $18
million lawsuit over solar installations, attempting to exclude any mention of cash
handoffs, burning of district records or criminal charges against officials...
Did Manuel Paul illegally burn San Ysidro School District
papers?
Whistleblower placed on
administrative leave
By Susan Luzzaro
San Diego Reader
Aug. 4, 2013

Curious reports continue regarding
burned papers retrieved from a burn
barrel in the maintenance yard of the San Ysidro School District...

A new twist to the story, however, is that the district has placed the
whistleblower on administrative leave.

The sequence of events on July 3 began when a San Ysidro school teacher
got a call from his union president who informed him of the possible
burning of documents. He called his acquaintance, Art Castanares, one
of the owners of EcoAlliance,
a solar-power company. EcoAlliance has filed a
breach-of-contract suit against the district.

The teacher and Castanares showed up at district headquarters at about the
same time and found the burn barrel. They called the FBI and the San Diego
police.

“I can’t even have an open burn in my backyard," said the teacher in a
recent interview. "It doesn’t look right for someone in the district to be
doing this.” The teacher said what appeared to be legal documents were
visible among the ashes.

Though the teacher declined to release his name until he meets with his
attorney, he worries he is already suffering the consequences of being a
whistleblower. The district placed him on administrative leave on Tuesday, July
30...
Why was former Superintendent Manuel Paul discussing a
cash handoff from a contractor with district private eye
Bob
Price
?  (See timeline below.)

This happened AFTER Paul had been specifically asked by Board President Jason
Wells to stop issuing directives to staff and refrain from visiting district offices.

The Paul communication (see yellow section of timeline below)
appears to involve signs bought with cash passed to Paul in an
envelope in a parking lot.  
BEST BEST & KRIEGER LEGAL
SERVICES AGREEMENT
September 12, 2013
The Board approved/ratified
the legal services agreement
with Best Best & Krieger, LLP
.
Motion
: Hernandez
Second
: Wells
Vote
4 Ayes
1 Oppose (M)
Out-of-control political games have been rampant for
decades at the San Ysidro school board

San Ysidro Schools Agree to Pay Settlement to Ex-Superintendent
July 25, 1986
KATHIE BOZANICH
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer



The San Ysidro Elementary School District and former Supt. Thomas Murray have
reached an out-of-court settlement "in the very, very, high six-figure range" in his
$5-million wrongful termination lawsuit filed against the district more than four years
ago, according to Murray's attorney.

Murray, who now lives in the Northern California city of Arroyo Grande, refused to
comment. His attorney, Deborah Anderson of the Corona Del Mar law firm of Carman
& Mansfield, said Murray believed the settlement, reached Friday, was "a long time in
coming."

"He was pleased to have his name cleared and be compensated for the tremendous
injustice he has been forced to live with the last five years," Anderson said.

Murray was appointed to the $37,000-a-year superintendent post in June, 1979, after
a recall election of district trustees resulted in then-Supt. Robert Colgrove losing the
majority of support and Murray being offered the position of superintendent. He had
been a principal with the district since 1976.

Murray signed a two-year contract with the district in October, 1979. In November,
another recall election resulted in the balance of support on the trustees board going
back to Colgrove. The new board reached an agreement with Colgrove, who had
also sued the district for wrongful termination, and reinstated him as superintendent.
Murray was assigned as a principal-at-large.

In February, 1980, the trustees in an executive session voted to demote Murray to a
teaching position for allegedly "failing to provide adequate leadership" and other
charges. Murray refused to accept the demotion and left the district.

"The board had accused him (Murray) of driving the district's car for personal use,
formally called misappropriation of district property, as well as other charges,"
Anderson said. "Instead of allowing him to respond to the charges, they were
published in The San Diego Union, and he found out about them after they were
published and after he had been terminated.

"The basis of the lawsuit was lack of due process. Everyone is guaranteed the
chance to be heard before their rights are taken away from them, but this was totally
lacking in this case."

Anderson said the case finally went to trial in October, and the judge was emphatic in
his ruling in favor of Murray.

A transcript of Superior Court Judge Franklin Orfield's opinion, dated Oct. 17, 1985,
said the trustees' allegations against Murray were unfounded and unfair.

"I have never seen such a series of such serious charges of wrongdoing and even
criminal conduct so cavalierly made with so little evidence to back them up," the
transcript read. "In this case the district set itself up as the prosecutor, the judge, the
jury and the executioner."

The case was to have returned to court next month to determine the amount of
damages.

Greg Ryan, an attorney for Rhoades Hollywood & Neil, the San Diego law firm that
represented the district, said the district considers the issue closed with the
settlement and will not seek a reversal of the judge's ruling.

"We had a good settlement offer (from the district)," Anderson said. "Sometimes
you're better accepting it and going on with your life. He's never had a decent job
since these acts occurred in 1980. . . . He had been an administrator for 13 years,
and it is foolish to ask a man to start over at the age of 50. The lawsuit shows he was
not in the wrong, but the humiliation and the personal distress, as well as the lost
wages both past and future, cannot be made up ever in full."

Anderson and Ryan both declined to disclose the exact settlement.
Similar case: Los Angeles
Court of Appeal decision
2012: public entities
cannot conceal lawyer
bills
Public record requests
Legal bills from Stutz Artiano
Shinoff & Holtz to San Ysidro
School District paid by
SDCOE-JPA
San Diego Education
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HOME
Central
04/18/14 08:30AM C-62    CV
Styn, Ronald L.                Motion
Hearing  
37-2012-00095758-CU-BC-CTL     
D)Manuel Paul               
Daniel R Shinoff     
     
D)San Ysidro School
District
Daniel R Shinoff         
Updated May 2014
Feb. 2014
May 2014
San Ysidro officials were remarkably lucky to get Judge
Styn for the Ecobusiness case; Styn has a history of going
beyond the call of duty to protect the powerful.  See
Scott
Dauenhauer and Elizabeth Schulman cases.  

Of course, Judge Styn wasn't able to stop the Ecobusiness
jury from awarding $12 million in damages.  

05/02/14  08:30AM
Motion hearing in this case at the central courthouse
37-2012-00095758-CU-BC-CTL     
D)Manuel Paul               
D)San Ysidro School District
Daniel R Shinoff  
Judge Styn, Ronald L.
  


February, 2014
$12 million verdict against San Ysidro schools in
EcoBusiness case, despite (or because of?) extreme
efforts of Stutz Artiano Shinoff Hotlz

Premier school attorney Dan Shinoff was not able to pull off a win for the school
district in the Ecobusiness case--even with the help of his partner James Holtz.

The jury had little reason to trust the school district officials.

My guess is that this jury wants to see the law upheld in San Ysidro School District.
Usually jurors can be talked out of finding any school district liable for anything by
telling them that it will hurt students if the district has to pay those it has wronged.
Yes, in the short run, that is true. But the benefits start to accrue immediately if
corrupt administrators, board members and teachers are forced out of schools
and replaced by people who can do their jobs right, and if schools are forced to
operate in a more transparent manner, preventing the flow of tax dollars to lawyers
who are hired by school officials to cover up wrongdoing.

In the long run, it will benefit schools financially and improve the services provided
to the public by schools if we refuse to immunize schools for their criminal, illegal
and/or abusive actions.
Lee Patajo went to
work for Liebert
Cassidy Whitmore
San Ysidro School District Interim Superintendent Resigns
By Candice Nguyen and R. Stickney
NBC 7 San Diego
Mar 20, 2014  

San Ysidro School District Interim Superintendent Gloria Madera abruptly
stepped down Wednesday saying the
district recently received a "negative
certificate," meaning it cannot meet its financial obligations.

"In hindsight I really have no regrets. I think it was a learning opportunity We
really hope negotiations would go better but I gave it my best and that's all you
can do," Madera told NBC 7.

According to her contract, she had two options: remain interim superintendent or
go back to her other job as Asst. Superintendent of Educational Services, which
she chose.

Her resignation will be effective on April 1.

Board member Jean Romero also resigned recently and the board approved a
draft timeline of the process to fill that spot.

On May 13, if no action is taken to replace Romero, the county will call an
election to fill the seat.

The announcement was made in front of at least a hundred angry teachers and
parents who say they have lost all confidence in the school board.

The district's reputation has been tainted by serious budget problems and the
indictment of former superintendent Manuel Paul on allegations in connection
with a bribery and corruption scandal.

The San Ysidro Education Association President Carole Wallace said she does
not trust the board to help find qualified candidates.

"A child doesn't bring his homework in. If he says 'Tomorrow' of course you don't
believe it. You have to show me to believe it," Wallace said.

As for who will replace Madera, she suspects there will be another interim
Superintendent.

The school board says it'll seek the county's help.
May 01, 2014
San Ysidro Schools trustee steps down after all; judge may not have known
about section 1770 when ruling that
Yolanda Hernandez could stay in office
after conviction
...“We haven’t received any information from the DA’s office with regard to
(Hernandez) having to resign or received anything from them in writing regarding
any plea,” said
George Cameron, interim superintendent. “What we want to
do is get access to the court’s decision and we’ll have it reviewed by our legal
counsel.”
San Ysidro settles Ecobusiness
$12 million judgment

Following mediation, school officials and the solar company said they will
develop a new plan
to supply San Ysidro schools with solar energy.

Interim superintendent has district looking up
San Ysidro is seeing a financial turnaround.
By Christine Huard
UTSD
.March 3, 2015


SAN YSIDRO — Edward Velasquez seems out to put the super in superintendent.

Since taking charge of the San Ysidro School District last month, the new interim
superintendent has balanced the budget,
brokered a deal to set aside
a $12 million judgment against the district,
and put in place
hiring practices he said can’t be manipulated.

And if pulling the district back from the edge of insolvency, undoing a massive
legal loss and combating long-standing complaints of favoritism and nepotism
weren’t enough, he also directed the school board in refinancing Proposition C
school bonds at a potential savings of $50 million to property taxpayers.

It’s a drastic turnaround for a district that has been in negative certification — a
classification a school district falls under when it can’t meet its financial
obligations in the current and following fiscal years. The classification puts a
district at risk of the state taking over. Velasquez said money was found by taking
a hard look at the state’s new funding formula that allocates additional money to
targeted student populations through the Local Control Accountability Plan, or
LCAP. A balanced budget will be presented to trustees at the March 12 board
meeting.

“(The money) has always been there,” he said. “Someone didn’t understand how
to utilize the money. Someone didn’t allow people to do their job. And I’ll leave it
at that.”...

One of the first tasks board members gave Velasquez was
to reopen talks with EcoBusiness Alliance, the solar
company that
won a $12 million judgment last year after
the district broke its contract to build a solar project on
school grounds.

Following mediation, school officials and the solar
company said they will develop a new plan
to supply San
Ysidro schools with solar energy
.

Details of the memorandum of understanding are still being hashed out, but
Velasquez expects it to be ready for trustees to consider approving March 12.

The district signed a solar energy deal with EcoBusiness Alliance in 2008, but
former Superintendent Manuel Paul axed the deal before a system was built. The
company sued, and it was while being deposed in the lawsuit that Paul revealed
he had taken $2,500 cash in 2010 from a contractor who wanted to do business
with the district. Paul eventually pleaded guilty to state and federal corruption
charges in the “pay-to-play” scandal, and is serving a two-month prison sentence
in the federal case...
District accuses lawyer of malpractice
San Ysidro is one of 40-plus school boards that employ firm
By Christine Huard and Jeff McDonald
March 13, 2015


Trustees of the San Ysidro School District have unanimously voted
to file a malpractice lawsuit against their former attorneys, and to
file a complaint with the California State Bar against the firm, Stutz
Artiano Shinoff & Holtz.

The firm, which called the action baseless, does legal work for more than 40
school districts across the region.

The decision to sue was announced after a closed session meeting late
Thursday. It follows a $12 million jury verdict against the district in a breach-
of-contract lawsuit filed by a solar panel installation company.

The malpractice lawsuit has not yet been filed, according to William Trejo,
the district’s new lawyer.

In explaining the lawsuit, board President Antonio Martinez cited a board
accusation that was the subject of a U-T Watchdog story in November —
that attorney Dan Shinoff ... from EcoBusiness Alliance, the solar energy
firm that won the multimillion-dollar jury award...[see Ecobusiness stories
below]
Complaint for malpractice
San Ysidro has a new superintendent
By Christine Huard
SDUT
June 11, 2015

Dr. Julio Fonseca has been named
the new superintendent of the San Ysidro School District.

Fonseca, who serves as associate superintendent of the
Bassett Unified School District in La Puente, will replace
interim Superintendent Edward Velasquez starting July 1.

...The district hired Ray & Associates to conduct its superintendent search, which launched
just two months ago.

The new schools chief has been with Bassett Unified, a K-12 and adult education district that
has seven schools serving about 4,500 students, since last year. His base salary there is
$141,000 annually.

Previously, he was assistant superintendent of human resources for the Temple City School
District for three years, and principal of Coronado High School in the West Covina Unified
School District for two years. He worked as a teacher, in counseling, and in an office that
created curriculum for disenfranchised students in the Los Angeles Unified School District for
10 years.

Fonseca, 39, earned a master’s degree in social work with an emphasis on family and schools
in 2001 and a doctorate of education in 2008 from the University of Southern California. He is
a 1999 graduate of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and holds a degree in
sociology. He is a single father with two young children, and speaks Spanish fluently...
San Diego Superior Court central courthouse cases filed
by San Ysidro School District since 1974
37-2015-00009253-CU-PN-CTL          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           
STUTZ ARTIANO SHINOFF & HOLTZ           San Diego           Civil           
03/17/2015
Case Title:           SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT VS. STUTZ ARTIANO
SHINOFF & HOLTZ [IMAGED]
Case Number:           37-2015-00009253-CU-PN-CTL            Case
Location:         San Diego            
Case Type:         Civil           Date Filed:         03/17/2015
Category:         CU-PN         Professional Negligence
Plaintiff/Petitioner  
Last Name or Business Name           First Name           Primary (P)  
SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT                       P  
Defendant/Respondent  
Last Name or Business Name           First Name           Primary (P)  
STUTZ ARTIANO SHINOFF & HOLTZ                       P  
SHINOFF            DANIEL R             

37-2015-00003840-CU-NP-CTL          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           
PAUL, MANUEL           San Diego           Civil           02/03/2015
37-2013-00030460-CU-PO-CTL          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           
LANDMARK MECHANICAL           San Diego           Civil           01/16/2013
37-2011-00086195-CU-WM-CTL          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           
COMMISSION ON PROFESSIONAL COMPETENCE           San Diego           
Civil           02/18/2011
37-2011-00078094-CU-OR-CTL          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           
ALL PERSONS INTERESTED IN THE MATTER OF THE PROCEEDINGS
APPROVING AND CONFIRMING THE EXECUTION OF A           San Diego           
Civil           07/29/2011
37-2010-00090787-CU-WM-CTL          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           
ROTHSTEIN, ALAN           San Diego           Civil           04/27/201
Cases filed in central courthouse against San Ysidro School District since 1974

Superior Court of California, County of San Diego
Court Index Home          Previous Page          New Party Name Search
View Party Name Matches

Select the Case Number below if you would like to see case details. If you did not
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Case Number           Party Name Matches           Opposing Party           Case
Location           Case Type           Date Filed  
IC816366          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           ALCALA COMPANY
INC           San Diego           Civil           08/18/2003
GIC820150          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           ARMENTA,
SYLVIA           San Diego           Civil           10/30/2003
GIC814013          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           VIZCARRA, MARTHA
I           San Diego           Civil           07/09/2003
GIC803605          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           LOPEZ, MANUEL
RIOS           San Diego           Civil           01/14/2003
GIC796056          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           MARTINEZ,
JOSUE           San Diego           Civil           09/16/2002
GIC790586          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           ARMAS JR, BERNARD
N           San Diego           Civil           06/14/2002
GIC765696          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           ACCENT
ELECTRONICS INC           San Diego           Civil           04/13/2001
GIC762148          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           MENDOZA, LUZ
MELINDA           San Diego           Civil           02/09/2001
GIC733660          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           SORIA, SERGIO           
San Diego           Civil           08/13/1999
703464          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           ARMAS, CAROL           San
Diego           Civil           09/06/1996
702996          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           ESPINOSA, DANIEL
E.           San Diego           Civil           08/21/1996
702172          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           ESPINOSA, DANIEL E           
San Diego           Civil           07/23/1996
696396          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           FLORES, BERTHA           
San Diego           Civil           01/17/1996
694206          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           ESPINOSA, DANIEL E           
San Diego           Civil           11/06/1995
673066-1          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           CITY OF SAN
DIEGO           San Diego           Civil           01/25/1994
673065-1          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           CITY OF SAN
DIEGO           San Diego           Civil           01/25/1994
672652-1          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           CITY OF SAN
DIEGO           San Diego           Civil           01/12/1994
669567          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           MATARAZZO,
LUCINDA           San Diego           Civil           10/07/1993
656689          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           GARCIA, LUIS V.           San
Diego           Civil           09/25/1992
643083          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           CHAVEZ, MARIO           San
Diego           Civil           09/26/1991
619047          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           USHER, JAMES           San
Diego           Civil           12/08/1989
616920          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           VREELAND, DANNY
W.           San Diego           Civil           10/05/1989
GIC852677          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           CEJA, EFREN           
San Diego           Civil           08/19/2005
GIC846629          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           ARMAS JR, BERNARD
N           San Diego           Civil           04/29/2005
GIC837339          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           ARMAS JR, BERNARD
N           San Diego           Civil           10/19/2004
673066          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           CITY OF SAN DIEGO           
San Diego           Civil           01/25/1994
673065          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           CITY OF SAN DIEGO           
San Diego           Civil           01/25/1994
37-2014-00006777-CU-OE-CTL          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           
PAREDES, FRANCISCO A           San Diego           Civil           03/13/2014
37-2013-00069261-CU-OE-CTL          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           
ULLOA, CARLOS           San Diego           Civil           10/01/2013
37-2013-00068976-CU-PT-CTL          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           
ULLOA, CARLOS           San Diego           Civil           09/27/2013
37-2012-00095758-CU-BC-CTL          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL
DISTRICT           ECOBUSINESS ALLIANCE LLC           San
Diego           Civil           04/05/2012
37-2012-00075315-CU-WM-CTL          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           
RUIZ, CYNTHIA           San Diego           Civil           02/27/2012
37-2011-00097687-CU-PO-CTL          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           
GUTIERREZ, UBALDO           San Diego           Civil           09/09/2011
37-2011-00079046-CU-WM-CTL          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           
HAMADA, STEVE           San Diego           Civil           09/30/2011
37-2010-00104942-CU-PO-CTL          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           
GOMEZ, MARTHA           San Diego           Civil           11/29/2010
37-2009-00100437-CL-PO-CTL          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           V,
GEORGE           San Diego           Civil           10/15/2009
37-2007-00084350-CU-MC-CTL          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT           
STAMPER, SANDRA           San Diego           Civil           12/21/2007
702996          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT GOVERNING BOARD           
ESPINOSA, DANIEL E.           San Diego           Civil           08/21/1996
694206          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT GOVERNING BOARD           
ESPINOSA, DANIEL E           San Diego           Civil           11/06/1995
638623          SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT, BOARD OF TRUSTEES           
RAUCH, JERRY           San Diego           Civil           06/07/1991
San Ysidro School District collects $1.8
million from Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz
to settle district's malpractice lawsuit
against its former lawyers

School Lawyers Under Increasing Scrutiny
By Eduardo Rueda, Investigative Reporter
La Prensa
December 11, 2015

...Earlier this year, the firm was sued for malpractice by the San
Ysidro School District for allegedly failing to inform that school
board of potential settlement offers during a case and for breach
of its fiduciary duty to the district.

The law firm settled the case for $2 million at the first mediation
between the parties, before any depositions were taken or
binding arbitration sessions started.

The District received a net payout of over $1.8 million after
paying outside legal fees.  The District also filed a State Bar
complaint against the firm.

“This law firm charged our district more than $1.3 million in legal
fees in a case that resulted in a huge judgment against us,” said
Marcos Diaz, President of the San Ysidro School District Board.

“The law firm settled with us for their entire malpractice insurance
limit before we were able to hold a single deposition of the
partners,” Mr. Diaz added.

[William Trejo represented the district in the case.]

The Stutz Artiano law firm has also faced criticism in San Ysidro
for its handling of a payout to Superintendent Manual Paul. Mr.
Paul was indicted in January 2013 in a wide-ranging corruption
scandal that included San Ysidro School Board Member Yolanda
Hernandez and 11 others connected with Sweetwater Union High
School District. The San Ysidro district suspended Mr. Paul and
later voted to buy out his contract.

Daniel Shinoff, the senior partner of the Stutz law firm, handled
the buyout negotiations which netted Mr. Paul over $220,000.

Earlier this year, the District filed a lawsuit against Mr. Paul to
recover the payout claiming it was negotiated in bad faith and
was an illegal use of public funds...

[Here are the case numbers for the two lawsuits discussed above:

37-2015-00009253-CU-PN-CTL          
SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT  v. STUTZ ARTIANO
SHINOFF & HOLTZ
San Diego           Civil           03/17/2015

37-2015-00003840-CU-NP-CTL         
SAN YSIDRO SCHOOL DISTRICT  v.  PAUL, MANUEL           
San Diego           Civil           02/03/2015]
Trial set in case against former
superintendent
San Ysidro School District seeks return of severance pay
By Christine Huard
The San Diego Union-Tribune        
01/29/16

A trial date has been set in the case the San Ysidro School District
brought against its former superintendent to recover more than
$200,000 in severance paid out to him when he stepped down in
2013 amid allegations of corruption.

San Ysidro sued Manuel Paul a year ago accusing the former
schools boss of violating the public trust, breaching his fiduciary
duty, fraud and government waste related to the separation
agreement he negotiated with the district when they parted ways.

State law requires the reimbursement of any severance money
paid out by the district to an employee who is convicted of a crime
involving an abuse of office.

When Paul left San Ysidro, he had been indicted on a
misdemeanor charge related to the “pay-to-play” scandal that
swept through three South Bay school districts two years ago. He
later became the target of a federal investigation that ultimately
charged him with deprivation of benefit for political contribution.

The former superintendent ended up pleading guilty to the
state and federal charges, and was sentenced to two
months in prison, a $5,000 fine and a year of probation in
the federal case.

Paul admitted to taking $2,500 from a contractor who wanted a
shot at the district’s lucrative construction work. Paul framed the
bribe as a campaign donation for a board member. He later said it
was for three board members whose seats were up for election in
2010, and who two years later amended their campaign filings to
show the money paid for campaign signs.

The lawsuit against Paul also alleges the district’s lawyer at the
time, Daniel Shinoff, was present while the deal was being worked
out between the schools chief and board members Jean Romero,
Yolanda Hernandez, and Jason Wells.

The lawsuit cites laws that address abuse of office, cap the
“golden parachute” paid out to public officials when a contract is
terminated, and require severance payments to be returned “upon
conviction of a crime involving office or position.”

San Ysidro is seeking the return of the $211,347.42 paid out in
Paul’s separation agreement, salary he was paid while he was on
administrative leave for six months, and other damages, as well as
attorney’s fees... See more
here
Grand Jury Report Eviscerates San Ysidro
School Bond Program

By Ashly McGlone
Voice of San Diego
May 24, 2016

The San Ysidro School District’s dark days were even darker than
previously known and compromised the school bond program,
according to a new County Grand Jury report.

Former district officials misspent school bond funds, double paid
vendors, spent $45 million on an ill-advised land purchase and
fulfilled few promises made to voters who approved a $250 million
bond measure in 1997, according to the report released Tuesday.
About $376,900 removed from the bond fund may still be
unaccounted for.

“Prior SYSD boards did not perform due diligence and disregarded
their fiduciary duty, approving expenditures from bond proceeds for
purposes other than those listed in the ballot measure,” the Grand
Jury wrote. “The district has amassed hundreds of millions of
dollars in long-term debt with little to show for it.”

San Ysidro’s superintendent Manuel Paul and board member
Yolanda Hernandez were among 18 people convicted in a wide-
reaching corruption probe by the San Diego County district
attorney that concluded in 2014. Hernandez was one of five public
officials forced from office in the South Bay, and Paul spent time in
prison for a separate federal corruption charge.

While the criminal charges focused on gifts from contractors, the
Grand Jury report highlights lapses in San Ysidro’s bond spending
and record-keeping...

“There was poor fiscal management by former district leadership,”
San Ysidro School District Superintendent Julio Fonseca said in a
statement...

Fonseca said the employees who wrongfully destroyed
records are no longer employed by the district.

The Grand Jury’s findings – made with the help of county auditors –
take aim at
former administrators, like longtime business
chief Dena Whittington, saying she approved contract
amendments and change orders without board approval.
Whittington, who resigned in August 2015
, did not immediately
respond to a request for comment.

In addition to San Ysidro officials, the Grand Jury lobbed
criticism
at County Office of Education staff brought in to
oversee the beleaguered border district after it earned a
negative budget rating in 2012. The jury concluded
officials – like fiscal adviser Lora Duzyk – “did not take
an aggressive enough role
in correcting problems” while
fending off a state takeover. Duzyk declined to comment...
Grand jury finds much to criticize at San Ysidro
schools

by Leo Castaneda
inewsource
.org
May 27, 2016

Down the street from the San Ysidro School District offices sits
empty land that was once home to Beyer Elementary. The school
was torn down to make room for brand new facilities, and almost
four years later, the land is still vacant.
A scathing but flawed report adds credence to long-standing
complaints of financial mismanagement at the San Ysidro School
District.

That’s only one criticism in a scathing new report from the San
Diego County Grand Jury that hammers San Ysidro for
mismanagement. It cites missteps that include buying unusable
land, scheduling “questionable” bond payments and burning
documents. All that occurred, the report said, as the district
“amassed hundreds of millions of dollars in long-term debt with
little to show for it.”

The report was also critical of the San Diego County Office of
Education, which had financial oversight of the district during some
of its most trying financial times. The county agency didn’t provide
“adequate guidance and oversight” to the district, the report said.

However, the report seems to make errors about the chronology of
some financial decisions. It holds the county responsible for school
district actions more than a year before Office of Education
advisers had direct oversight.
Failure to plan

San Ysidro, according to the report, “has no strategic plan for
facility management.”

While Beyer waits to be rebuilt, the district did open the $23.7
million Vista Del Mar Elementary in 2012.

The school in the Ocean View Hills neighborhood was paid for, at
least in part, with one of the most expensive capital appreciation
bonds in California. Most of that bond has since been refinanced,
except for one particularly painful payment. In 2041, the district
faces a $14.2 million bill to pay back $581,000 in principal. That
comes out to $24 for every $1 borrowed.

An inewsource analysis shows the district still has more than $430
million in bond debt.

To make matters worse, the report said part of the 20 acres
purchased for Vista Del Mar are “environmentally protected and
unusable,” a fact the district didn’t know until after the purchase.

San Ysidro is also not sure where all of its bond money is. The
report states the district didn’t pay back about $6.1 million in bond
money it had borrowed. It also found “inadequate record keeping”
for about $367,900 in bond money moved around with wire
transfers.

In other districts, these bond questions might have been flagged
early on by a bond oversight committee. San Ysidro is not legally
required to have such a committee thanks to a decades old bond
authorization, but in 1998 the district PTA asked the district to form
one. To date, no such oversight exists.

Forming an oversight committee is one of the Grand Jury’s
recommendations to San Ysidro. It also suggested strengthening
internal financial controls and training, and making the district’s
long-term debt more transparent. The grand jury also
recommended conducting an independent, forensic audit of the
district’s finances.
Too much oversight, or too little?

According to the report, the San Diego County Office of Education
had placed a “financial officer to monitor” San Ysidro in 2012,
following concerns about its solvency. That same year, the district
used an opaque financing tool — called certificates of participation
— that allowed it to circumvent voter approval and debt limits.

With the district in this dire financial situation, the report said, it’s
unclear why the county “did not strongly advise against (San
Ysidro) incurring additional debt.” The report argued the county
had “special fiscal oversight powers” over the district.

In an online statement, County Office of Education spokeswoman
Music Watson said the “Grand Jury misunderstood the laws
governing the role of county offices in providing financial oversight
to school districts.”

“We strongly disagree with the characterization of our fiscal
oversight as anything other than rigorous and active,” Watson said
in the statement.

That friction over whether the county had the power to stop the
district from taking on new debt appears to be based on conflicting
chronological interpretations.

The report says the financial overseer came to the district in 2012.
However, a letter from the County Superintendent of Schools
Randolph Ward placing a fiscal adviser with the district is dated
March 20, 2013.

Official documents for the debt in question were published on Jan.
25, 2012, a full 15 months before there was a fiscal adviser. The
certificates of participation were also not the only new debt the
district took on in 2012. In May of that year, it issued a $29 million
bond that was supposed to pay, at least in part, for the
modernization of Beyer Elementary.

Office of Education spokeswoman Watson said in an email the
county can only comment on nonvoter approved debt — such as
the certificates of participation. It did that in late 2011.
County advisers

Questions about the Office of Education’s oversight of San Ysidro
are not new. In interviews with inewsource last year, two trustees
criticized the budgeting at the district, which they said the county
should have been watching closely.

As far as whether the County Office of Education could stop the
district from issuing additional debt as the grand jury report
seemed to imply, it did so in February 2015.

Lora Duzyk, the country adviser, said in a letter hand delivered to
the district’s interim superintendent that she intended to “stay and
rescind any action related to indebtedness” of the district until her
office reviewed any plans and found them “consistent with the
district’s fiscal recovery.”

The bond decisions must also be made clearly “contingent on
receiving the approval” of the county, the letter said.

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The bond in question, eventually issued in May, was $45.6 million
intended to refinance some of the district’s most expensive capital
appreciation bonds. The grand jury described two of the bond’s
payments as “questionable.”

In a 2015 interview, Duzyk said the county’s job was to provide
guidance, not direct orders.

“We can’t tell them what to do, that’s not our role and we don’t
have the ability to make them do anything,” Duzyk said then. “What
we can prevent them from doing things that are not in their best
financial interest.”

To do that, the district appointed Duzyk and Brent Watson, the
executive director of the Office of Education’s district financial
services office. It also appointed an outside consultant, G. Wayne
Oetken, whose fees were paid 75 percent by the district and 25
percent by the county.

Oetken was a former interim chief financial officer at San Diego
Unified. His company, G. Wayne Oetken and Associates, has also
contracted with Bonsall Unified and districts in Contra Costa
County.

The office of education billed San Ysidro for a “financial advisor”
for a total of $56,925 between in July 2013 and August 2014.
Oetken’s job was to keep an eye on the ongoing negotiations
between the district and its union, Duzyk said last year.

“He would sit in on negotiations, not to be part of the negotiating
team but to observe. And see what they were doing,” she said.
When there were specific proposals for deals, the county would
review them to make sure they meshed with the district’s finances.

In early October 2014 negotiations broke down and the union went
on a three-day strike that ended with a deal giving teachers 1
percent raises and one-time 1 percent bonuses.

Emails between the interim superintendent at the time, George
Cameron, and Duzyk reviewed by inewsource discussing ongoing
negotiations with the union do not mention or include Oetken.

The Office of Education said in an email Oetken was still working
with and monitoring contract negotiations, in the months leading up
to the teacher strike.

An audit referenced in the grand jury report found district staff
signed contracts and change orders without board approval. It also
found staff improperly used bond money, double paid vendors and
received services that didn’t match purchase orders. It’s unclear if
any of the issues listed happened during the two years the district
had a county financial adviser.

Help from the county extended beyond financial oversight. In an
email dated May 21, 2013, the interim San Ysidro superintendent
at the time, Gloria Madera, emailed the County Office of Education
spokeswoman Watson about a bond downgrade notice that had to
go out to board members.

“I urgently need some talking points for this item,” she wrote.
Watson provided the talking points, which Duzyk then reviewed.
The next day she emailed an OK.

“We’re good to go with this,” Duzyk wrote. “We’ll incorporate in the
larger district PR strategy.”

Watson confirmed in an email she provided San Ysidro with talking
points in 2013 around the bond downgrade and negative
certification. She said the Office of Education “regularly helps
districts communicate with parents and the community, particularly
those districts that don’t have communications staff.”
San Ysidro School District Superintendent Julio Fonseca sits with
his head in his hands during a district board meeting in this
undated photo. Megan Wood, inewsource

San Ysidro School District Superintendent Julio Fonseca sits with
his head in his hands during a district board meeting in this
undated photo. Megan Wood, inewsource
The district

The San Ysidro School District serves about 5,000 students in a
stretch of San Diego hugging the Mexico border.

The district is no stranger to scandals. Since 2013 separate
corruption investigations brought down a superintendent and a
trustee. Public pressure forced out two more more trustees last
year.

The current superintendent, Julio Fonseca, is the first permanent
hire for the job after about two years and three interims.

In a statement, Fonseca said the district agreed with the grand
jury, which he said matched findings from internal reviews.

Fonseca attributed many of the issues, including the destroyed
documents and lack of due diligence in land purchases, to
previous boards and administrative staff members.

The new board and administration are “wholeheartedly committed
to not only correcting the errors of the past, but building a strong
financial infrastructure for the future.”

To that point, he said the district is “considering” a bond oversight
committee. It was also praised by the grand jury itself for hiring
consultants to build a system to track how bond and state grant
money has been used.



About Leo Castaneda:

Leonardo Castaneda is a reporter and economic analyst for
inewsource. To contact him with tips, suggestions or corrections,
please email leocastaneda [at] inewsource [dot] org.