Every day, kids in many schools are sacrificed to petty politics.
"I have loved Castle Park Elementary since I was six years old. The school board sent it into
To some extent, what happened at Castle Park Elementary was a fluke.
But it would not have happened if the teachers and administrators involved
had possessed a belief in, and understanding of, the principles of American
justice, and a culture of open communication and respect for people who
are different from them.
Questions for the future:
If problems were actually fixed, school attorneys wouldn't have as
many billable hours, would they?
Is something more serious than a crime being covered up?
Such as incompetence?
If this is how they treat adults, how safe are the kids in the
classrooms controlled by these teachers?
J. H. screamed over and over (in front
of children playing at recess) as Maura
Larkins walked away, repeating:
"I did not do anything inappropriate to
J. H. admitted UNDER OATH that she
confronted Maura Larkins on February
6, 2001 because she feared that she
might get in trouble for harassing
She admitted that this was the reason
she contacted Asst Superintendent
Maura Larkins' complaint was never
investigated, making it easier for Jo
Ellen Hamilton and Linda Watson to
pull off their hoax.
The complaint in this Jan 23, 2001
letter by Maura Larkins was NEVER
INVESTIGATED by Rick Werlin or
Chula Vista Elementary School District.
This type of behavior is surprisingly common among administrators. Maura Larkins did not belong to
a protected class, but many administrators do not bother to protect victims of racial or sexual
Some lazy administrators prefer to let bullies, both adults and students,
run schools while those administrators look the other way. If victims
complain, the administrators solve the problem simply by silencing
them, using smear tactics and intimidation, rather than fixing the
Two teachers, J. H.
and L. W., called Asst
Werlin's home within
minutes of each other
on a Saturday night.
oath that this
deeply because it
was so unusual for
a teacher to
contact him at
home. This was a
Teacher J. H.
testified that MR.
SUGGESTED to her
that she call him at
In her deposition, L. W. said she never feared for her life, nor called Asst
Superintendent Rick Werlin on February 10, 2001.
But she changed her story when Maura Larkins asked her if she would
mind if her telephone records were subpoenaed. She said she had called
Mr. Werlin, but she couldn't remember when or why.
January 23, 2001
One year ago I first tried to report to you a
problem with inappropriate behavior toward me on
the part of a staff member. You dismissed the
matter as insignificant. I have endured in
silence. During the past few weeks, the problem
has escalated into constant harassment. Please set
up a meeting time to discuss the problem.
|Saturday Night Phone Calls
Teacher J. H. told Richard Werlin that she feared for her life. Or did she?
She swore under oath that she didn't. Richard Werlin swore that she did.
Who is lying?
EITHER J. H. NEVER CLAIMED
TO FEAR FOR HER LIFE,
OR SHE COMMITTED PERJURY.
Either way, it is clear that her allegations should never have caused Maura
Larkins to be removed from her classroom AND DISMISSED.
Did Chula Vista Elementary School District apologize to Maura Larkins or
her students? No.
What if L. W.'s claim
that she feared Maura
Larkins might kill her
HAD BEEN BASED ON
The district never
The district did not
make sure to prevent
1) a tragedy;
2) the descent of an
entire school into a
frenzy of hysteria.
To this day, the district
has never investigated
Maura Larkins was
dismissed for NOT
COMING TO WORK
because she eventually
stopped returning to
work after the district
demanded on three
separate occasions that
she leave without ever
allegations against her!
investigation before she
would return to work a
fourth time. The district
refused to investigate.
But the district did not
take action to dismiss
Maura Larkins until a
year later, AFTER Maura
Larkins sued the
Dismissing someone for
filing a lawsuit is a
violation of Labor Code
advised the district to
violate two separate
sections of the labor
SDCOE JPA lawyers
also advised the district
to obstruct justice and
commit perjury, each of
which is a felony.
A lawsuit for
subornation of perjury
has been filed.
The claims of these
teachers were never
investigated by the
They were simply acted
upon in an extreme and
irresponsible fashion by
lazy administrator Rick
|Text of note
"Maura and I were both in the
lounge doorway and I said,
"Gretchen told me that you
submitted a written complaint
"Gretchen lied. Would you like
to see the letter that I wrote?"
"I've already seen it."
"You saw the letter that I gave
to Gretchen?" she asked.
"Yes, I saw the letter."
"Then she said, "You are part
of the problem."
"What is the problem?" and
"That's your perspective."
"You have done many
"When I started to respond,
she turned and walked away."
Note to reader
from Maura Larkins:
Yes, this is a story
people and petty
happens to be the
situation out of which
felony obstruction of
justice and other
violations of law arose
in San Diego County.
Anyone who wants to
address the problem of
the felonies needs to
deal with the situation
from which they arose.
Why on earth would she think that?
A guilty conscience?
The principal NEVER scheduled a
meeting with Maura Larkins about
this problem. Instead, she picked
up the letter Maura Larkins placed
on her desk, and went straight to
J.H.'s classroom during instruction
time, to get instructions on how to
deal with the complaint!
Castle Park Elementary was NOT
controlled by its principal. It was
controlled by J. H. and other
Did lawyer Mark Bresee advise CVESD to keep lying so that the
attorneys COULD KEEP MAKING MONEY?
Four days after the above incident,
according to Asst. Superintendent Richard Werlin, Jo Ellen Hamilton called
him at his home and said she feared for her life because Maura Larkins
walked away from her.
(At first Werlin also said that another teacher also called him that night,
but a month later he changed the story, saying that only Mrs. Hamilton
The following Monday, Mr. Werlin placed Maura Larkins on administrative
leave, but did not tell her that this incident was the reason.
The district NEVER MADE ANY written record of the reasons Maura
Larkins was placed on leave on February 12, 2001 until November 21,
Barbara Abeyta, Terry Olson, and James Ahler at the Office of
Administrative Hearings found that the district was right to place Maura
Larkins on administrative leave because of the above-described incident.
president Gina Boyd
said to Maura
Larkins was placed
leave on Feb 12,
2001, "He (Werlin)
has no choice."
Boyd wanted the
truth hidden to
protect her close
Why did CVESD put Maura
Larkins on administrative
leave? It was because the
district believed Robin
Donlan's false allegations that
Maura Larkins was violent and
had a gun.
Robin Donlan reported (as
fact) the allegations that a
had made to police in an
effort to deprive Maura
Larkins of her inheritance
from her father. (Yes, it
sounds like a soap opera.
Truth is just as strange as
fiction.) Donlan was guilty of
a crime for illegally obtaining
that allegation from police
files with the help of her
brother, Michael Carlson.
The district and CTA violated a
different subsection of the
same statute that Donlan
This problem doesn't just concern Castle Park Elementary. The entire California education
establishment is involved.
I am happy to be out of Castle Park Elementary's sick culture.
If you worked at Castle Park Elementary, with people like these, and these, once you got over the initial
shock, you wouldn't really be sad to be out of there! But I want this school, which I loved since I was a
first-grade student there, to become a law-abiding and education-centered place again.
People who probably would not have been hired as teachers in the old days.
These candidates can take teacher education classes while they are on the job.
Many readers might not care about Maura Larkins personally, but they care about their kids. Her
students were treated with shocking disregard by the principal and the school district. They fared so
poorly that a very large number of them were urged to opt out of state-wide standardized testing at the
end of the 2000-2001 school year. The following fall, the district tested them off the record. What were
Castle Park Elementary School culture was dysfunctional
and lawless, and the last thing powerful teachers and their
allied administrators wanted was to allow it to be fixed.
Many people believe it is important that people who are successful in other fields should be allowed to go
into teaching without FIRST going through a teaching program.
Every school that I know of has some excellent teachers, and some who need more education to help
them understand what their job is and how to do it.
Student test scores have gone down.
But is the drop in teacher ability even more precipitous?
Many women, who in the old days would have become dedicated teachers, today become doctors,
CPA's and CEO's. Who has replaced them?
I suggest better evaluation of teachers, including non-subjective testing, and using master teachers to
guide beginning teachers until they have mastered their job.
A Few Bad Apples--
Or Normal Human Behavior?
Concluded Massachusetts therapist and author Lauren Slater: "We have
to judge the individuals who committed the horrible deeds, but we can't
judge them through the lens of saying, 'I would never have done that,' ...
because the Millgram experiments show that under orders, most of us will
*"Everything I said was totally appropriate...[and] totally
legal." Enron founder Ken Lay, regarding the $66 million in
profits he made by selling stocks secretly as his company
collapsed. He was convicted of fraud.
(Exhibit R-25 is below)
Teacher JoEllen Hamilton waited
outside the teacher work room at
Castle Park Elementary for Maura
Larkins on February 6, 2001. When
Maura Larkins tried to leave the
Hamilton blocked her exit,
and verbally confronted
Maura Larkins about the
letter at the top of this page.
from Maura Larkins Administrative Hearing
Yes, some people
get a kick out of
Balloon saga parents
emotional during [hoax]
Dispatchers were calm while
Heenes explained son, 6, was
‘in the air’
Sheriff calls balloon saga a
Oct. 18: Larimer County Sheriff
Jim Alderden tells reporters that
the ordeal was staged to
generate publicity for a reality TV
show and that the parents could
face multiple charges. NBC’s
Lee Cowan reports.
By Mike Celizic
Oct . 21, 2009
The voices on the 911 tapes
sound distressed, and sincere.
First a man, then a woman, in
near hysteria telling a dispatcher
about their 6-year-old son, who
has taken flight on a homemade
helium balloon shaped like a
The tapes, released by the
Larimer County (Colo.) Sheriff’s
Office, show that the boy’s
parents, Richard and Mayumi
Heene, repeatedly mentioned
the age of their son, Falcon, and
are heavily larded with emotional
and dramatic pauses and
If it sounds like an act, law
enforcement officials say that
should come as no surprise.
They believe the whole incident
was a staged publicity stunt...
How hard is it for a group of teachers to pull off a hoax?
In OAH testimony, principal Gretchen Donndelinger explained
the Jo Ellen Hamilton theory of perception and "perspective."
(Donndelinger was very much under Hamilton's sway.)
Perhaps Hamilton has reasons for not trusting her own
perceptions, but it is worrisome that a school could be held in
thrall to someone who seems to believe that there is no
Clearly, this letter > > >
does not mention any names,
but teacher J. H. stated in her
deposition that she was afraid
it might go into her personnel
Why did teacher Jo Ellen Hamilton
plan a hoax at Chula Vista Elementary
She wanted Maura Larkins to be fired
for writing the letter below. And she
got her wish.
|San Diego Education Report
|San Diego Education Report
After months of severe harassment in 2001 by a clique of powerful teachers at her school,
Maura Larkins refused to return to work.
The Chula Vista Elementary School District demanded that Maura Larkins come
back to work, but she refused to come back without an investigation of events at Castle
Park Elementary. The district dropped its investigation in its very early stages, and never
revealed what it had learned. The district made the decision to protect teachers who had
friends in high places.
Maura Larkins was fired because she refused to return to work and because she filed
grievances and a lawsuit against the district. It is, of course, illegal to fire someone for filing a
grievance or a lawsuit. To this day the district has kept secret many Bate-stamped documents
it collected, and the courts have allowed the district to conceal this evidence. Perhaps
someday the case will be reopened and the documents will be revealed.
In 2004, the district realized that it had made a big mistake. Castle Park Elementary
was spiraling out of control; the teachers had become ungovernable.
The staff chewed up and spit out one principal after another, for a total of 11
principals in 11 years. The PTA became politicized and emboldened; two
embezzlements totaling over $22,000 occurred.
By refusing to investigate and take appropriate action when Maura Larkins brought
serious problems to the attention of the district, CVESD created a monster of sorts.
Finally the district tried to fix the mess by transferring five teachers out of
the school during the summer of 2004.
The school now operates under strict secrecy.
It's time to end the culture
of secrecy at Castle Park
Elementary, CVESD and
SDCOE. Nothing good can
come of it. (UPDATE Jan
2007: Rick Werlin caused
similar problems in
Richmond, California, where
a teacher was handcuffed in
front of her second graders
and led away by police for
demanding that the school
put an end to bullying. Rick
Werlin, I'm afraid, has no
appreciation for the perfect
irony of the situation.
|Letter from Maura Larkins to her principal reporting
|Teacher Jo Ellen Hamilton believed that this letter referred to
her, and so she embarked on a campaign of retaliation
|Report from Castle Park Elementary teacher JoEllen Hamilton
After Maura Larkins left Castle Park Elementary, the district realized that the teachers who
had harassed Larkins were still causing severe problems at the school. The district finally
took action, but it was too little, too late.
Maura Larkins note: I believe that none of this would have happened if there had been an
effective system in place for evaluating teachers. Good teachers will continue to leave, and
good candidates will continue to avoid the profession, as long as there is inadequate
accountability and inadequate compensation for effective teachers.
2013 San Diego County
Grand Jury addressed
bullying by adults in
The 2013 report talked about
adults who bully students, but there
is also a problem in schools of
teachers and administrators who
bully other adults.
The 2012-2013 San Diego County
Grand Jury recommends the San
Diego Unified School District Board,
no later than the beginning of the
2013-2014 school year:
13-70: Develop a policy to
bullying, harassment or
physical or emotional, by
school district employees or
volunteers. The policy should be
added to the Administrative
Procedures and School Site Safety
13-71: Revise the adult-to-student
bullying, harassment or intimidation
employee appeal and review
procedures to forbid Area
Superintendents or other
administrators from reviewing
their own original findings and
13-72: Provide all complainants
timely and continuing feedback as
to the status of their complaints.
In a different district the
superintendent of Chula Vista
Elementary School District
appointed Assistant Supt Richard
Werlin to investigate himself.
CALIFORNIA LABOR CODE
DIVISION OF LABOR
ENFORCEMENT . ..... THE
LABOR CODE PRIVATE
ATTORNEYS GENERAL ACT
OF 2004 2698-2699.5
|News, information and ideas about our
education system, courts and health care
by Maura Larkins