District Deeds Sunday Reads – Sunday, October 2, 2022: Introducing the “Encyclopedia of School District Corruption – San Diego Unified School District Edition”

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Since 2014 we have identified a myriad of corruption, deceit, incompetence and abuse by the dysfunctional senior leadership of the San Diego Unified School District  (SDUSD).  Along the way we have made efforts to to provide a resource for SDUSD Stakeholders and our readers around the world by listing compilations of information above the “Header” image:

And also listed key category “tags” on the left side of our blog page.  Here is a portion of that listing:

Over the past Summer we strategized on how we could make District Deeds an even better resource for SDUSD Stakeholders and our readers around the world.

In that effort, this week in District Deeds Sunday Reads we are launching a new feature titled “Encyclopedia of School District Corruption”.   Here is the definition of Encyclopedia from Merriam Webster:

The “Encyclopedia of School District Corruption” is now posted!

You can find the link as a subject in the “Header” image here:

It contains the first 5 entries prompted by the featured article today from the Washington Examiner titled Bad Education: Why Shocking Public School Corruption Remains Hidden.

We have featured the complete Washington Examiner article today in Sunday Reads with our synopsis and analysis.  We strongly urge our readers to click on the title and other links (in red) to read the full article for themselves.


Bad Education: Why Shocking Public School Corruption Remains Hidden

Even by Hollywood standards, school district fraud can be dramatic.

As the new HBO film Bad Education chronicles, Roslyn, New York, School Superintendent Frank Tassone led an embezzlement scheme that siphoned off some $11 million meant for students. For more than six years, he and his assistant superintendent, Pamela Gluckin, lived the high life. Meanwhile, the school board remained blissfully ignorant of the criminal activity committed by its highest-paid employees.

Roslyn is notable, but not unique. As political scientist Terry Moe chronicles in The Politics of Institutional Reform: Katrina, Education, and the Second Face of Power, before they were closed by Hurricane Katrina and then replaced by charter schools, New Orleans public schools were so corrupt that the FBI had an office in the district’s administration building.

The bureau notched nearly 30 convictions, including that of a former school board president who pocketed over $140,000 in bribes. As Peter Burns and Matthew Thomas note in Reforming New Orleans, one enterprising administrator actually granted a large contract to repair fire damage to a school a month before the fire occurred.

One of us is a former charter school district administrator; the other has served on both charter and traditional public school boards. We know from experience that the vast majority of public educators are honest and that few school districts have Roslyn- or New Orleans-level chicanery. But we also know that public school corruption is common, with perpetrators rarely held accountable.

Over the years, Department of Education inspector general reports have said that the office receives more reports of misdeeds than it can investigate. In Chicago, the school district investigator only investigates 25-30% of the reports it receives every year, citing capacity issues. Chicago’s office received more than 2,000 such claims in 2019.

Here are things we have either seen (and never made the media or court dockets) or found in research:

  • Illegally recruiting star athletes from outside the district by getting their families jobs, or even houses, and then failing to report when those same athletes misbehave.
  • Creatively manipulating official measures such as graduation rates and absenteeism.
  • Allowing those accused of sexual harassment to resign quietly and find jobs in other school districts rather than face public discipline.
  • Allowing embezzlers to resign quietly and find jobs in other school districts rather than calling the cops.
  • Misusing personnel systems to employ the relatives or lovers of administrators rather than the best educators.

Two key conditions enable corruption.

First, education intellectuals avoid researching public school corruption; some prefer cover-ups to clean-ups. For example, in Fertilizers, Pills, and Magnetic Strips, Gene Glass writes approvingly that corrupt acts in public schools “are usually dealt with in subtle ways that protect the dignity of the individuals involved while protecting the integrity of the school.” We see this phenomenon in Bad Education when Tassone and the Roslyn school board ask Gluckin to resign and claim she has cancer — all before Tassone’s involvement was uncovered. While the writers took some creative liberties with the story, our experiences suggest the example rings true in real-life situations.

Second, though the vast majority of school board members are honest, the nation’s 13,500 district school boards could do far more to ferret out corruption. In some states, school board training is run in cooperation with school administrator associations, so few board members gain the expertise needed to hold administrators accountable, or even comprehend schools’ complex budgets. Further, mandated audits are designed to find moneys spent out of category, not misspending within categories. Investigators often uncover incidents of fraud in school districts that have already been warned that their accounting practices do not comply with industry standards, warnings of which school boards should be aware.

These conditions allow school district fraud to persist for years, as in the cases of Tassone, former Baltimore County Superintendent Dallas Dance, and former Chicago Superintendent Barbara Byrd-Bennett.

K-12 spending accounts for one-quarter to half of state budgets, and many interest groups are pushing for a mega-billion dollar federal bailout to make up for the coronavirus revenue slump. If Congress decides to spend this money, lawmakers should at least condition aid on reforms to promote ethics. Those could include changing school financing laws to foster simplicity and transparency and encouraging the creation of state- or district-level inspectors general for schools. Meanwhile, state lawmakers should create more public and private learning options for students and allow parents to vote with their feet by leaving districts beset with problems.

Of course, for any of this to happen, policymakers must acknowledge that school fraud is real and very debilitating. To that end, Bad Education offers a valuable lesson.

Jonathan Butcher is a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation. Robert Maranto is the 21st Century Chair in Leadership in the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas.


DISTRICT DEEDS SYNOPSIS AND ANALYSIS:

This article describing the political corruption in both the Roslyn Public Schools District with around 3,000 Students and NOLA Public Schools with around 45,000 Students was both sad and uncomfortably familiar for all SDUSD Stakeholders.

Here is a quick list of Political Corruption types from Wikipedia:

Over the coming months we will apply those corruption hot spots as they match ongoing improper SDUSD actions to continue building the Encyclopedia.

For now, from the featured article, there are four items that stand out in the “things we have either seen (and never made the media or court dockets) or found in research”:


  • Creatively manipulating official measures such as graduation rates and absenteeism.
  • Allowing those accused of sexual harassment to resign quietly and find jobs in other school districts rather than face public discipline.
  • Allowing embezzlers to resign quietly and find jobs in other school districts rather than calling the cops.
  • Misusing personnel systems to employ the relatives or lovers of administrators rather than the best educators.

We will break down those four categories of misdeeds occurring regularly in the SDUSD and then tie them to the 5 types of corruption they represent in the SDUSD leadership.


#1

  • Creatively manipulating official measures such as graduation rates and absenteeism.

District Deeds Translation

District Deeds has listed “FAKE SDUSD GRADUATION RATES” in the Category Tags in the left collumn which contains 5 posts dating back to November 2016 describing the outright corruption of the SDUSD regarding Grad Rates.

Just two weeks ago in our Sunday Reads titled “CDE CALPADS “Disaster” and CDE CALPADS “Disaster” and SDUSD Enrollment Lies – A Match Made in Education Hell!!!” we exposed the rampant improper manipulation of “absenteeism” by the corrupt SDUSD Senior Leadership.

These two items fall under item 3.5 Gombeenism, whichrefers to an individual who is dishonest and corrupt for the purpose of personal gain, often monetary”.

The Gombeenism bedrock of both the multiple re-elections of corrupt SDUSD Board of Education Trustee Richard Barrera and ascension to Deputy Secretary of Education by corrupt former Superintendent Cindy Marten has been built over the last eight years on improperly manipulated Graduation and Absenteeism rates at the expense of the neediest Students and Communities.

Gombeenism is the first addition to the District Deeds Encyclopedia of School District Corruption.


#2

  • Allowing those accused of sexual harassment to resign quietly and find jobs in other school districts rather than face public discipline.

District Deeds Translation

Hiding employee offenses and settlling sexual abuse offenses out of court has been a standard “go to” strategy for the SDUSD.  Numerous indisgressions by SDUSD personnel has been swept under the rug by the multi-million dollar legal department.

Nothing manifests this SDUSD deep seated sexual abuse coverup corruption more than the Green Elementary incident where the “Investigator Claims SDUSD Superintendent Cindy Marten ORDERED COVER-UP IN SITE SEXUAL ASSAULT REPORT!!!

In fact we have a whole page above the header titled “The San Diego Unified School District Student Abuse Report” describing the various manipulations by the SDUSD Leadership, Legal Department, Quality Assurance Department and Propaganda Department to allow “ those accused of sexual harassment to resign quietly and find jobs in other school districts rather than face public discipline”.

Here is the location:

Pass the Trash” is the second addition to the District Deeds Encyclopedia of School District Corruption.


#3

  • Allowing embezzlers to resign quietly and find jobs in other school districts rather than calling the cops.

District Deeds Translation

The definition of “embezzle” from Merriam-Webster is the following

According to this definition, another word for embezzle is fraudulently “appropriate” or  “misappropriate”:

The systematic embezzlement/misappropriation by the SDUSD of Title 1 funds legally assigned by School Site Committees is clearly defined in an “Open Letter to the SDUSD District E Community: Roosevelt Blackmon – “Where are our Title 1 Funds Trustee Whitehurst Payne?” where Mr. Blackmon writes:


Neighbors, Allies, Friends and Family of SDUSD Southeastern Division/District E:

We can no longer turn a blind eye to condone this double-talk from the Superintendent and Board of Education.  Our community is slowly dying because of disenfranchised Latinx and African American children through continued misappropriation of Title I funds.


Misappropriation” is the third word being entered into the District Deeds Encyclopedia of School District Corruption.


#4 & #5

  • Misusing personnel systems to employ the relatives or lovers of administrators rather than the best educators.

District Deeds Translation

At the heart of this type of corruption is Nepotism and Cronyism.

This is best identified by the employees of the SDUSD whose careers and incomes are damaged by this immoral and illegal activity.

Our SDUSD employee sources have witnessed and reported numerous stories about:

  • Senior leadership engaging in extramarital sexual affairs resulting in “lovers spat” screaming matches in the central office.
  • “Nervous Breakdowns” used as a cover up by Human Resources to let things cool down between employee illicit affairs.
  • Selection and appointment of Superintendents and Senior Leadership ignoring past sexual and professional indiscretions.
  • Selection and appointment of Supertintendents and Senior Leadership based on bootlicking ability rather than educational leadership ability.
  • Brothers, sisters and other family members of senior SDUSD officials being hired with virtually zero credentials to high paying SDUSD jobs.

Nepotism” and “Cronyism” are the fourth and fifth additions being entered into the District Deeds Encyclopedia of School District Corruption.  Both words fit extremely well with SDUSD “Pass the Trash“.

So, to recap, we have added the following words/phrases (in alphabetical order) to the “District Deeds Encyclopedia of School District Corruption”:

Cronyism

Gombeenism

Misappropriate

Nepotism

Pass the Trash

In future weeks we will continue to add and and enhance our Encyclopedia word/phrase definitions and we urge our readers to send us their own SDUSD Corruption word/phrase recommendations.


Now for our quote of the week dedicated to the concepts of Honesty, Transparency, and Accountability that must be demanded of ALL SDUSD officials from ALL SDUSD Stakeholders.  Fully embracing and deploying those concepts is vital to the future of our Students whose education is vital to the future of our world:

“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” —B.B. King


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