Feb. 2015
UT San Diego:
May 12, 2014

"In Office 44, Judge Jacqueline Stern
was rated by the Bar Association as
“qualified,” one notch below the top
“well qualified” rating,
which came
as a surprise to her and to many
observers given her extensive legal
background and 16 years on the bench.

"There appear to be no significant controversies on her record and she has been
endorsed by more than 125 other judges, numerous law enforcement and anti-crime

[Maura Larkins' comment: to put this in perspective, Judge Lisa Schall, with
three admonishments on her record, also was endorsed by all 125 other

Her opponent, lawyer Joseph Adelizzi, also received the rating of “qualified” from the Bar.
He has 30 years of experience in private practice and says he is running because he
believes in fiscal responsibility and because his background would improve the diversity
of the local judiciary. That, in our view, is not reason enough to unseat a veteran judge
with a solid record. We endorse Stern. "
April-May 2014
Jan. 2014
October 2013
Mistrial declared in Allyn vs. FUESD
Debbie Ramsey
Managing Editor
Village News
October 24th, 2013

On Monday, Oct. 21,
Judge Jacqueline Stern declared a mistrial in the case of Allyn vs.
Fallbrook Union Elementary School District (FUESD) at Vista Superior Court, citing
that the proceeds would exceed the time limit previously established for the trial. The trial
had just begun its seventh day out of the 10 days slated for it.

Allyn, the district’s former information technology director and an employee of 18
years, claimed she was wrongfully terminated by administrators in 2012 in an act
of retaliation and that the district violated public policy by misusing public funds.

"The jury in this case had been scheduled through Thursday, Oct. 24, and the court
determined that the case would not conclude until Nov. 7, resulting in the judge declaring
a mistrial," said FUESD defense attorney
Gil Abed of Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff & Holtz,

Allyn’s attorney Michael Curran, of Curran & Curran Law, posted the blame for
the mistrial firmly on the defense counsel.

"I think it is reprehensible the way they wasted everyone’s time and resources,"
said Curran, who claimed FUESD attorneys "intentionally" prolonged examination
of their defendants in order to effect a mistrial. Curran said he "repeatedly
objected to the defense counsel’s undue consumption of time."

FUESD’s defendants,
Dennis Bixler, Candace Singh, Bob Price,
and associate superintendent Raymond Proctor were the individuals under fire
by the plaintiff’s counsel. In an earlier interview, Curran said, "This case is really
about an abuse of power, a breach of public trust, and a cover up that included
retaliation by [Allyn’s] bosses."

Curran cited examples of what he called the "excessive" time used in the early
days of the trial. "We examined Bixler for 2.5 hours, compared to their 6.5 hours;
we examined superintendent Singh for 2 hours, compared to their 6 hours; and
we questioned the district’s investigator Price for 2.5 hours, compared to their
7.5 hours," he said.

"Then the district and their counsel claimed they need another two weeks to put on their
defense case," said Curran. "The judge was forced to declare mistrial after jurors
indicated they could not stay longer then the court originally cleared."

"Two jurors would have encountered problems with their jobs; one had to report for
military duty on a certain date," Curran explained.

Prior to the mistrial being declared, Curran said in his opinion, "The case was going along
very well and we were demonstrating that Ms. Allyn’s termination was wrongful and
retaliatory; the evidence was unfolding just as we had planned."

Conversely, Abed said "As officers of the court, neither Mr. Shinoff (law firm partner) nor I  
will try a case in the press and will only litigate our cases before the court. We are very
disappointed that we were not able to complete this trial and show the jury the abundance
of evidence justifying the dismissal of a management employee in the district."

Judge Stern ordered a judicial settlement conference be set for Dec. 12 in the case, which
will be presided over by Judge Thomas Nugent, to see if the parties can be assisted in
resolving the case before scheduling a new trial.

"[The district] could settle with Ms. Allyn and they should," said Curran. "If an acceptable
settlement is not reached, then a case management conference will be set for January,
after which a new trial date will be ordered."

Following the dismissal of the jurors, Curran said he had an opportunity to speak
with 11 of the 12 to gauge their opinion of the case.

"Ten of the 11 jurors said they felt like it was looking like a case of retaliation
(against Allyn)," said Curran. "They said they felt Bixler and Singh were not
credible, and that Singh also came across as rehearsed. They said they felt Price
wasn’t believable and they hadn’t seen anything that proved [Allyn] had violated
any processes."

Curran claimed one significant incident during the proceedings was noted by
the jurors.

"Bixler impeached himself dozens
of times by changing his testimony
on a critical issue in the trial."
The matter involved whether or not
Allyn had complained to Bixler that
she was being asked to delete
district archives.

"That is smoking gun evidence
and we knew he was being told
to change his testimony," said Curran. "We showed him what was in his notes
and he had to go back to his original testimony."

Abed said his respect continues for the jury trial process. "A trial is a pursuit of the truth to
a jury. We look forward to a complete vindication of all the allegations made against the

Curran said he felt the situation leading to the
mistrial was disrespectful.

"It is a terrible, continued injustice to Ms. Allyn
and 12 very conscientious jurors who listened
to the evidence/case for seven days only to
have their time wasted by the district and
their lawyers," he said.

Curran said other matters have come to light
during his handling of Allyn’s case that he
feels should be investigated.

"We intend on providing a complete report and
demanding the
San Diego Office of Education
and California Office of Education investigate
these matters," said Curran.
Update on Elaine Allyn's lawsuit
against Fallbrook

See blog post with commentary

On 01/03/2014
Civil Jury Trial has been scheduled
for 04/18/2014 at 08:30AM before
Judge Jacqueline M. Stern.
Judge Jacqueline Stern
Jan. 2014
San Ysidro Schools

Traditional document
Fallbrook Elementary

Smokeless document
Candace Singh,
Superintendent FUESD
Gary Warth has covered a variety of
beats in North County since 1989 and
now covers school districts in coastal
North County and homeless issues. A
San Diego resident since the 1970s,
he earned a journalism degree from
San Diego State University and has
won numerous awards for his work.
Bixler's charges against Elaine Allyn
FALLBROOK: Ex-tech director says
school district officials ordered her
to destroy emails
June 17, 2012

The former director of educational technology for
the Fallbrook Union Elementary School District
has filed a $972,000 civil lawsuit against the
district, alleging she was wrongfully fired after
being falsely accused of snooping through emails.

The suit, filed May 31 by Encinitas resident Elaine
Allyn, includes allegations of discrimination,
harassment, retaliation and wasteful spending.
She also claims that a district investigation into a
teacher suspected of videotaping students was
hampered because an administrator had ordered
emails deleted, inadvertently destroying possible

Besides the $972,000 cited in the lawsuit,
attorney Susan Curran
said her client also will
be seeking lost past and future income, lost
benefits, attorney fees and punitive damages.

Dennis Bixler, assistant superintendent of human
resources, said the school board meet in closed
session last month to discuss the claim Allyn had
filed as a prerequisite to the lawsuit. Trustees
rejected part of the claim and sent other parts
back without action because they were untimely,
meaning they had happened too far in the past,
he said.

[Maura Larkins' comment: Of course they did.  
This is exactly what they were instructed to do
by Rick Rinnear of San Diego County Office of
Education--JPA, the school district's liability
carrier.  T
his is the message Mr. Rinnear sent
to all SDCOE-JPA school districts:

"If a claim is submitted in letter
format and is
sufficient (in
compliance), per the Government
the claim should be...
returned as insufficient,
late or

This is how SDCOE runs its JPA: not for the
benefit of students, or the public, but for the
benefit of individuals who have power in

In the complaint, Allyn said she had been a
district employee for 18 years and was earning
about $109,000 a year when she was fired in May.

According to the lawsuit,
Allyn had been
subjected to six years of harassment from
Ray Proctor, associate superintendent of
business services at the district,
who had
become vindictive after learning she had
complained that he made an inappropriate
comment about her in a Cabinet meeting in 2005.

Proctor declined to comment for this story,
directing all inquiries to Bixler.

According to the lawsuit, Proctor had said Allyn
must have "slept with the vendor" to get the
district its good cellphone contract.

Allyn said in the lawsuit that the human
resources department ignored her
complaint about Proctor, but her accusation
was leaked to him.
For the next six years,
according to the suit, he was overly critical of her,
giving her smaller budgets than her male
counterparts and denying her staff assistance.

Also in the lawsuit, Proctor is said to have asked
Allyn in early August 2011 to wipe out or cleanse
the district's entire electronic data imaging from
its archive system and to wipe out all emails that
were in the trash bin of the active system.

The district hired Candy Singh as the new
superintendent last August. According to the
Singh also requested Allyn delete
old imaging and emails, and Allyn said she
again refused because it was a violation of
state and federal laws.

At Singh's and Proctor's insistence,
however, Allyn later hired a consultant to
help dismantle the archive system,
according to the lawsuit.

Last January, the lawsuit continues, Allyn
was asked to assist in the investigation
against a teacher suspected of videotaping
students. Allyn said she scanned the video
camera and found nothing incriminating, but
was unable to provide a backlog of the
teacher's emails, as requested by private
investigator Bob Price, because there were
few to read since Proctor and Singh had
order a change to the archive system.
According to the lawsuit, Proctor asked Allyn for an administrative password to access
additional log files on the computer system.

After she complied, Allyn said she was called in to Proctor's office and accused of illegally
accessing and reading employee emails.

Allyn said the accusation was unfounded, as employee emails are not considered private
and district policy gives her the right and ability to access emails and electronic files
without prior notice or consent.

Bixler, however, said that while the emails are not considered private, and supervisors
have the right to look into the emails of subordinates, Allyn was looking into the emails of
her supervisors.

According to the lawsuit, Allyn said she was accused of looking into Singh's emails
because she knew about complaints against the superintendent, including how $30,000
had been spent on new office furniture and remodeling. Allyn said in the suit that she
knew of the complaints about the spending because people in the district were talking
about them, not because she snooped in emails.

But according to a district notice outlining existing causes to discipline Allyn, which Bixler
signed April 12 and provided to the North County Times, the investigator hired by the
district found other indications that Allyn was looking into the superintendent's and other
administrators' emails.

In her lawsuit, Allyn denied ever looking into the superintendent's emails.
Ashley McGlone of SDUT noted on June 12, 2012:

"[Allyn's] lawsuit says she told the superintendent the move would violate state and federal
laws governing public agency records retention, and she was ultimately directed to keep
undeleted emails for no more than one year, and deleted emails for no more than one
The retrial of Allyn v. Fallbrook ESD was commenced on April 21, 2014, but after
four days it was postponed until July 25, 2014.
Allyn vs. FUESD trial begins
October 10th, 2013
Debbie Ramsey
Fallbrook Village News

Opening arguments were heard Monday, Oct. 7, at Vista Superior Court, in the civil court
case of Elaine Allyn vs. Fallbrook Union Elementary School District (FUESD). The suit,
which claims Allyn, the district’s former information technology director, was wrongfully
terminated by administrators in an act of retaliation, requests that $972,000 in lost past and
future wages, benefits, punitive damages, and attorneys fees be paid to the plaintiff. The
suit also alleges the district violated public policy by misusing public funds.

Judge Jacqueline Stern and a 12-person jury heard opening arguments from Allyn’s
attorney, Michael Curran, of Curran & Curran Law, that detailed a time frame from the
summer of 2011 to May 2012.

"This case is really about an abuse of power, a breach of public trust, and a cover up that
included retaliation by her bosses," said Curran. The primary individuals under fire by the
plaintiff are FUESD superintendent Candace Singh and associate superintendent Raymond

Curran said the evidence he will present will demonstrate to the jury that Allyn, an 18-year
employee of the district who has received several awards of distinction both in the
community and in her position, fell out of good grace when she questioned Proctor about
an order he gave her to delete electronic files which were protected under existing policy as
well as state and federal law.

"Proctor told her to ‘wipe the archives clean;’ when she said she couldn’t do it within the law,
[Allyn] fell out of the circle of trust and [Proctor] retaliated," said Curran. "We will show how
Proctor had been peppering budgets, manipulating monies. As a result, they spent
$100,000 of public money to create a cover-up." From that point on, the retaliation
continued, Curran alleged.

Curran said Allyn was also asked by Singh to "hide" $42,000 of improvements made to the
then-new superintendent’s office in the information technology (IT) budget because she
"didn’t want it to flag the board [of trustees]."

The plaintiff’s case, as outlined, also alleges that district officials "hacked in" to files and
emails to create a scenario for the dismissal of Allyn from her position. An earlier complaint
by Allyn also alleged sexual harassment by Proctor. Curran said evidence will also show the
investigation into that claim was purposelessly assigned to a subordinate of Proctor’s in
order to control the outcome.

"We know they secretly went in and fussed with her files," said Curran. "Elaine noticed what
had been changed and experts said her files had been hacked."

On Feb. 14, 2012, Curran said Proctor put Allyn on leave and Advertisement
Advertisement for Casa Tiene Vista
[ Casa Tiene Vista ] walked her out of her office.

"The evidence will show that everything in this investigation was highly unusual, and that
misrepresentations to the FUESD board [of trustees] led to [Allyn’s] termination," said

"The evidence we will present will fully support our case and the jury will notice that there
are significant emails missing from the defense’s case," he added.

Gil Abed, a partner in Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff, & Holtz, said the evidence he will present in
defense of FUESD will show a different set of circumstances.

"We will show that when Ms. Allyn was put on administrative leave for misconduct, there was
nothing on record that she had complained about anything before that," said Abed, who
also provided to the jury character background on the district officials under fire.

Abed also explained how decisions regarding the hiring and firing of employees
are ultimately determined by the five-person board of trustees. "They are the
ones that run the district," he said.

[Maura Larkins' comment:  In fact, Mr. Abed, isn't it true that board members tend
to rubber-stamp whatever their lawyers tell them to do?]

In outlining what his case will contain, Abed said he will provide witnesses who will state
improvements (upgrades) were needed in the information technology department.

"Ms. Singh tasked Elaine Allyn to have the IT department audited to see how to accomplish
these improvements and Allyn dropped the ball," claimed Abed. "The district feels that over
the last three years they lost opportunities in subsidies they claim she was responsible for."

Abed said Singh discovered someone was reading her emails during the time frame in
question and questioned Allyn about it.

"Ms. Singh said when she told Ms. Allyn about it, she had no reaction; that was odd in Singh’
s mind," said Abed, who also alluded that Allyn knew information contained within them
without an email being directed to her on the topic. "Or was that just a coincidence?" he

Abed also said there was no existing policy on how long (general) email had to be retained
by the district and that Allyn "took matters into her own hands on retention time frames."

Essentially, Abed said, Singh saw "a breach of security; a breach of trust," which led to
recommending that Allyn be dismissed from the position.

Contrary to that, Curran said "What really happened is she took issue with her two
bosses for manipulating and misusing public funds. The charges they are making
against her are a ruse, a cover-up."

Allyn’s base salary at the time of her termination was $103,397. The person hired
to replace Allyn, under a revised job description, was hired at a higher salary.

The trial has been estimated to run 10 days.
161        04/28/2014        Ex
Parte scheduled for
05/01/2014 at 08:30:00 AM at
North County in N-27
Jacqueline M.
160        04/24/2014        
Notice of Hearing SD
generated.                Notice
of Hearing SD        
159        04/24/2014        
Minutes finalized for
Status Conference (Civil)
heard 04/24/2014
03:00:00 PM.                
Minute Order        
158        04/24/2014        Civil
Jury Trial scheduled for
07/25/2014 at 08:30AM
before Judge Jacqueline M.
156        04/24/2014        
Status Conference (Civil)
scheduled for 04/24/2014 at
03:00:00 PM at North County
in N-27 Jacqueline M.
155        04/22/2014        
Minutes finalized for Civil
Jury Trial heard 04/22/2014
09:00:00 AM. (As
Amended)                Minute
154        04/22/2014        
Minutes finalized for Civil
Jury Trial heard
04/22/2014 09:00:00 AM.
(Subsequently amended -
See ROA # 155)                
Minute Order        
153        04/22/2014        Jury trial
152        04/21/2014        
Minutes finalized for Civil
Jury Trial heard 04/21/2014
08:30:00 AM. (As
Amended)                Minute
151        04/21/2014        11:12
am Court adjourned until
04/22/2014 at 09:00AM in
150        04/21/2014        
Minutes finalized for Civil
Jury Trial heard
04/21/2014 08:30:00 AM.
(Subsequently amended -
See ROA # 152)                
Minute Order        
149        04/21/2014        9:00
am Court adjourned until
04/22/2014 at 09:00AM in
148        04/21/2014        
Jury trial commenced.
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Judge Jacqueline Stern's efforts to protect Fallbrook Unified Elementary School
District end in a blazing failure over a year after she
declared a mistrial rather than
using an alternate juror to replace a juror who had outside obligations.

VERDICT IS IN: Jury unanimously finds Fallbrook Union
Elementary School District wrongfully terminated Elaine
Allyn; district ordered to pay over $1.19 million
Village News
February 27, 2015

...The first statement is from Allyn’s legal counsel, Curran & Curran Law...

“In a resounding victory against the alleged misconduct by her former bosses, FUESD
superintendent Candace Singh, Ray Proctor and Dennis Bixler, Elaine Allyn, the former 18-year
information technology director for the district, prevailed in her claims for retaliatory mistreatment
and wrongful termination...

...[A] single claim went to the jury; whistle-blower retaliation
in violation of Labor Code section 1102.5...

“Ms. Allyn had also testified in the early summer of 2011 that Mr. Proctor had
warned his fellow administrators to “clean their houses” as he was aware
of public investigations into misconduct in other districts concerning
improper financial relationships with contractors and other financial
misconduct and was concerned Fallbrook could be investigated and he
could be embarrassed or disciplined for his own alleged financial

“Mr. Proctor and Ms. Singh then directed Ms. Allyn to delete the district’s
archive server which contained three years of district historical emails.
When Ms. Allyn initially refused and asked her bosses to provide a legal
opinion because she believed what they were asking violated law and
district policy, they threatened her with insubordination charges and
ordered her to delete the email archive sever telling her they would take
care of the legal issue.

“Once that was done, in a further attempt to cover themselves and point the finger at Ms. Allyn in
case of investigation of the District, they falsely and pretextually accused her of “hacking” and
reading their emails and conducted a $43,000 pretextual investigation with the district lawyer Dan
Shinoff’s trusted investigator, who found no computer or forensic evidence of misconduct by Ms.

“Despite the findings of the investigator, Ms. Singh, Mr. Proctor and Mr. Bixler still falsely charged
Ms. Allyn with reading emails, deleting emails, and failing to assist the district with the voluntary
Erate funding program. In a formal Notice of Charges document, Mr. Bixler, who testified the
documents was “wordsmithed” with Mr. Shinoff, presented these pretextual and false charges to
the board, resulting in Ms. Allyn’s wrongful and retaliatory termination.

“Earlier in this litigation, district spokesperson, Dennis Bixler, had previously falsely indicated to
the press Ms. Allyn had been terminated for dishonesty, fraud and violation of district policies.
After an initial trial, which Ms. Allyn and her counsel believe the
district intentionally caused to be mistried,
the district board again falsely
reported to the press Ms. Allyn was terminated for dishonesty, fraud and violation of district policy...