Cindy Marten, San Diego Unified School District, San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten, SDUSD Trustee Marne Foster
In Part 2b of the Marten Statement you will notice quite a few generalizations, false conclusions and misjudgements…pretty typical of Marten as a green, inexperienced administrator.
Marten also refers quite a bit to the “Data Dump” documents inaccurately as irrefutable proof of Principal Lizarraga’s guilt…and tries to tie former Supt. Bill Kowba to her professed conclusions of SCPA dysfunction.
Not ONE of the 17 documents provided by Marten prove anything improper going wrong at SCPA specifically regarding Principal Lizarraga and some of the documents clearly show the direction and influence of Marne Foster for site disruption on her henchmen…Lamont Jackson in HR, Area Supt. Shirley Wilson and Counselor Megan Blum…the counselor who illegally provided the sealed common application to Marne Foster and who had been receiving disciplinary action due to witnessed incompetence.
In fact the documents show SCPA interventions, mediations and open collaboration led by Principal Lizarraga to make the school site climate even BETTER than the extremely high level it was already operating at.
Another fact: of the 17 documents provided, only FIVE were after Marten took over officially on July1, 2013 as Superintendent. Of those 5:
- One was from Counselor Blum trying to save her skin by smearing the whole SCPA Administration Team
- One was from Marten’s semi-literate former employee gloating incomprehensibly over Principal Lizarraga being removed
- Three were concerning the improper Common App intervention by Foster
During the April/May 2013 period of the “influx” of emails, Marten REALLY didn’t have a clue how to perform her job while waiting for Kowba to retire on June 30th, 2013 as we chronicle in the blog post titled “Anatomy of a Failed Superintendent Part 1- Credentials Anyone?”
This may explain why she depended on her semi-literate former employee to advise her on staffing apparently like the person did in the 10 years they worked together at Central Elementary!
By the way…don’t look for any trace in the documents or statement of the San Diego County Grand Jury Report that PROVED that Marten and Foster were guilty of breaking Board Bylaws in removing Principal Lizarraga…the report that exposed the intimidation and bullying tactics of both Foster AND Marten toward SCPA Teachers, Staff and Administration and doesn’t fit the series of lies or false image Marten has compiled in her Statement.
One last reminder before we start…don’t bother looking for Marne Foster’s name ANYWHERE in the Marten Statement either..as we said in Part 2a…it’s not there!
- As we did in Part 2a – Biased Ignorance, we expose the Marten alibis, lies and cover-up attempts by typing the District Deeds Response to Marten in RED.
- This is a long post and there are EIGHT analysis segments. For your convenience we have separated each section with a
XXXXXXand the NUMBER of the segment in RED which will allow you to read it in portions.
Here we go!
Statement from Superintendent Cindy Marten (continued)
THE REASSIGNMENT OF MS. LIZARRAGA
As you can see from the supporting documents, over 20 staff members have shared significant concerns about the campus climate and leadership over the past several years.
ONLY in the distorted and retribution driven world of Cindy Marten and Marne Foster could an open dialogue to improve the school site between Staff and Administration be construed as sharing “significant concerns about the campus climate and leadership over the past several years.”
This Staff and Administration “survey” contained questions that the Principal Lizarraga and the SCPA Administration CONTRIBUTED to the discussion so everyone could be open and so things could get better. Doc # 11 shows all the answers shared with all site employees from 2/19/12…over a YEAR before Marten was named Superintendent.
Then again, Marten MAY have been referring to the list of staff that Megan Blum provided her just before the first day of the 2013/14 school year, AFTER she had gone through extensive remediation that apparently she could not either grasp or embrace.
The other potential list of “significant concern” was a compiled list of employees with complaints against the SCPA Administration over “several years” that included no backup or detail. It has been said that Megan Blum contacted every staff member who had been disciplined for poor performance (like herself) or angry about being excessed over the past 5 years and 20 is ALL she could come up with…and THOSE are the “20 staff members” sharing significant concerns. Truly a misrepresentation by Marten.
9 months later we were able to gather over 300 signatures in two weeks on a petition demanding to have Principal Lizarraga return.
Marten didn’t read THAT list.
As I stepped into the role of Superintendent, my predecessor, Bill Kowba, provided detailed information about each of the school leaders about which he had significant concerns.
During the transition from his administration to mine, Mr. Kowba was very troubled by the flood of incidents and concerns at several schools that were brought to his attention to solve. You will see that in one communication the week of his departure, he assembled his executive team for his last cabinet meeting and discussed the next steps that should follow for each of the schools that, in his opinion, may need a change in leadership. SCPA was included in that conversation with a sense of urgency. He wrote a memo to the Chief of Human Resources indicating that SCPA was a school where he was considering change of Principal using the reassignment process.
What Marten NEGLECTS to understand is that Mr. Kowba was doing what a good leader should do…especially one that is turning over a huge organization to an inexperienced successor…making sure that everything was “ship-shape” when he left.
What Marten NEGLECTS to share is that toward the end of his tenure, the experienced Mr. Kowba smelled a rat in the District Office and at SCPA in the Counseling Office with the sudden “influx” of emails he mentions in Doc # 10.
If Marten was actually HONEST, she would fully address each of these concerns accurately herself with REAL backup…but it may not even exist and if it does, she might lose her $300,000 job by releasing it because it will expose her direct inappropriate collaboration with Foster.
It has been left up to District Deeds to do so:
Why are we suddenly receiving this influx of E-mail?
“Supt. Bill Kowba
If you have 2 Counselors who are NOT doing their job who have access to ALL the records at the site (like they do sealed Common Apps) AND are working with Foster to try and avoid disciplinary action…who BETTER to instigate an email campaign to try to smear the Administrators who wouldn’t let them continue to be incompetent on the SCPA campus?
Knowing Mr. Kowba, District Deeds does not doubt that Foster had attempted to inappropriately get him to take her direct command and was rebuffed like just another rat in the Central office.
Are we getting the complete narratives for each issue? I do not think so.
Supt. Bill Kowba
Mr. Kowba obviously knew better…and was calling out Shirley WIlson and Lamont Jackson for being shoddy in their investigation, also knowing their close alliance with Foster.
At this point, there is clearly a conflict between about 5 of the staff and the principal and two VPs. I suspect there is fault with both groups.
Supt. Bill Kowba
“Fault with BOTH groups“…hardly an indictment of SCPA Leadership
Some of the staff in question are in mediation. At least one individual is on a remediation plan. This creates a tension that could lead to accusations, right or wrong.
Supt. Bill Kowba
Skill, judgement and experience interpreted by the inexperienced Marten incorrectly as “troubled”.
The information that Shirley has collected to date indicates that there are contradictory versions of the issues.
Supt. Bill Kowba
ANOTHER Shirley Wilson inconsistency…and THIS is the “troubled” Kowba described by Marten?
Yes..he was troubled…troubled that Wilson, Marten and Jackson were trying to railroad the SCPA Administration.
And this document made it ABUNDANTLY clear that Foster had tried to use her influence to motivate Blum and her counselor counterpart create a disturbance.
And guess what had happened JUST a month or so BEFORE this?
Ask ANY student on campus..or ask Marten’s “She who shall not be Named” Marne Foster to UNSEAL her son’s disciplinary records and police reports. THERE you will find the MOTIVE.
It is clear that the leadership issues which eventually led to our decision to reassign Ms. Lizarraga existed long before I was appointed as Superintendent and those issues were brought to our attention by multiple sources. Superintendent Kowba provided me with a lengthy list of concerns about SCPA that merited immediate attention including allegations of bullying, racially disproportionate discipline practices, inadequate staff and student supervision, and documented employee climate concerns going back several years.
Does Marten mean the “leadership issues” of Principal Lizarraga that led to over a 99% graduation rate?
Compared to the Marten run SDUSD 89% Graduation Rate – 10% WORSE than SCPA!
Or that led to a LONG list of awards and accolades to SCPA, the SCPA Teachers and Staff and the Students?
Or that passed the 2013 WASC review with flying colors?
Or that MANY of Cindy Marten’s senior staff including Chief of Staff Staci Monreal; Executive Director, Leadership and Learning Jim Solo; CFO Jennie Salkeld and others were “blown away” with the great things happening at SCPA during a site visit in NOVEMBER, 2013, right before Foster improperly received the sealed Common App docs?
In fact, weeks later, many of Marten’s staff were still talking positively about the SCPA site visit.
Lamont Jackson, who had moved from HR to take Shirley Wilson’s spot as Area Superintendent, made many visits to SCPA throughout the 2013/14 school year and spoke encouragingly about the positive changes he saw with the “instructional delivery” in classes. Not ONCE did he indicate there were any problems until the June meeting with Ms. Lizarraga.
One person DID NOT visit SCPA during the 2013/14 school year.
SUPT. CINDY MARTEN!
That’s right…Marten, who claimed that she had deep concerns about the SAFETY AND culture AT SCPA, NEVER VISITED THE CAMPUS IN THE 2013/2014 SCHOOL YEAR!
District Deeds has PROVED that Marten HAD NO EVIDENCE against Principal Lizarraga that would justify removal…especially taking into account that during the same period she protected an alcoholic Principal who allowed multiple sexual abuse incidents on his campus in his drunken stupor to KEEP his job…and then FIRED the investigator to cover it up!
This statement by Marten is the most ridiculous and blatant attempt to hide her OBVIOUS compliance to the Foster command to get rid of Mitzi Lizarraga.
Area Superintendent Lamont Jackson clearly saw her strengths as well as her shortcomings. He shared with me that he wanted to find a better match for Ms. Lizarraga’s skill set; a match that would allow her strengths to be used in a broader way to make a district wide impact in the area of arts education.
When the district plans to reassign a Principal who has received a March 15th notice, the reassignment conversations with the Principals happen prior to end of the year, by June 30th. Mr. Jackson engaged Ms. Lizarraga in this discussion about reassignment in early June. She was open to the idea of stepping into a district wide arts leadership role. In fact, she shared with Mr. Jackson that “the notion of working at the district level to bring quality arts and arts integration models to other schools at the secondary level appeals to me.”
Besides the March 15th and June 30th dates, this statement by Marten a complete fabrication and a complete LIE! There WAS NO “district wide arts leadership role” until Marten hurriedly invented one because of the negative blowback from the SCPA Community and the cooperation with Foster and Marten of those at SCPA who would benefit directly by the transition.
And Marten HAS COMPLETELY MADE UP THE quote she attributes to Ms. Lizarraga:
“the notion of working at the district level to bring quality arts and arts integration models to other schools at the secondary level appeals to me.”
Again, this is another RUBY SLIPPER CLICKING, PEARL WEARING, FAUX-SOLDIER FOR 9-11 BABBLING WHOPPER OF A LIE to cover up her part of the Foster intervention.
Since Marten claims that Lamont Jackson is the one that gave her this quote, and Jackson has been caught lying MULTIPLE times ON TAPE, we have one question:
Which one of these chronic liars should we believe?
The decision to move toward a reassignment was based on the totality of input and information from multiple sources, over several years. It was clear that Ms. Lizarraga’s skills would be better utilized in a district-wide arts leadership position rather than in a school site administrator position. At the same time, and over the course of the year, Ms. Lizarraga had indicated to Mr. Jackson that she intended at some point to move on from SCPA; sharing that she never planned to retire at that school, which made the decision to reassign her the best option for multiple reasons.
Just a repeat of the lies above in the irritating Marten style to REPEAT AGAIN the things she has already said to try to generate some minimal level of faux credibility.
There have been questions about the timing of Ms. Lizarraga’s departure from SCPA.
We fully recognize that it is unfortunate that Ms. Lizarraga was unable to officiate and attend graduation. It was never our intention to have her miss the end of the year with her school community.
This is another blatant lie. District Deeds inside sources say that Marten was INFURIATED when Principal Lizarraga would not bow to interventions by Foster to allow her son to violate almost every rule possible and still participate in all activities to which he DID NOT QUALIFY due to his behavior and violation.
Marten was heard to say that she was going to “make an example” of Principal Lizarraga..and that is EXACTLY what she did..and she found a way.
The LAST STRAW for Principal Lizarraga came in the Meeting on June 10, 2014. Principal Lizarraga describes it this way in the Mario Koran Voice of San Diego article:
Not long after, Lamont Jackson, the area superintendent responsible for the school, requested a meeting with Lizarraga. He was there to tell her Foster’s son would be attending the dance, she said.
“At that point, I just threw my hands up and said, ‘Fine. I’m so sick of Marne Foster. I’m tired of her throwing her weight around and her thinking the rules don’t apply to her,’” Lizarraga said.
She said she was shocked by what came next.
“He said, ‘Good. Now that that’s resolved, let’s talk about where you’re going to be next year. We have some questions about your leadership at this school,’ ” Lizarraga said.
Lizarraga would not complete the year. Jackson asked for her keys to the school, she said, and she was not allowed to attend the school’s graduation ceremony. In the coming weeks, district officials would create a role for her and assign her to a leadership position in the district’s visual and performing arts department – which already had a director.
Voice of San Diego
Next is how Marten lies about it:
Unfortunately, during a meeting with Mr. Jackson and her Union Representative on June 10, 2014, which was scheduled to discuss options for her reassignment, Ms. Lizarraga shared information which led to her taking an immediate personal leave to attend to matters disclosed in that meeting. She was unable to return from that leave in time to close out the school year and attend graduation. We were left with no other option than to have her miss the last few days of school, including graduation. This was terribly unfortunate.
ANYONE who knows the commitment of Principal Lizarraga KNOWS that there is no way she would miss the Graduation of her first class to graduate with only her as their principal since 6th grade if she had a choice.
Marten emotionally and maliciously made an example of Ms. Lizarraga, followed Foster’s improper orders and lied to all the Board Members to accomplish it.
All that was left were the human resource details.
Ms. Lizarraga returned from personal leave on July 2, 2014, and was placed on paid administrative leave from July 2- 8, 2014, pending her new assignment. From July 9 -August 10, 2014, Ms. Lizarraga took a pre-arranged and pre approved unpaid leave to attend a scheduled European vacation. Upon her return she was assigned to leading the district-level integrated arts program until her resignation on October 31, 2014.
Despite not mentioning Marne Foster in this section of her response, the fingerprints of Foster are all over this weak excuse of an alibi.
It is a simple conclusion…and you do not need 17 documents to support it:
Without Foster’s improper and possibly illegal actions and the willingness of Marten to break board bylaws, Principal Lizarraga might still be at SCPA.
The formula to prove the guilt of Marten and Foster is also simple.
MFC x CMII = BI2
The (M)arne (F)oster (C)orruption times the (C)indy (M)arten (I)ncompetence and (I)nsecurity is TRULY (B)iased (I)gnorance Squared!
Tune in tomorrow for Part 3 – The UN Common App.
Here is the full Alibis Exposed Series to date: Marten SCPA Statement Alibis Exposed Series
Sign the “RECALL SAN DIEGO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT TRUSTEE MARNE FOSTER” Petition
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Francisca Salcedo said:
It’s very sad to see that our district is being run by the teachers union. I think this is the cause of what ails us as a school district.
At yesterday’s Community Advisory Committee on Special Education (CAC), the Director of Special Education, Sonia Pico’s, announced with an air of self righteousness that the district discussed the new work plan ONLY with the teachers union. CAC was NOT invited to participate in any manner, in spite of its Chair’s protests.
What does a labor union know about the complex and ever changing needs of students with disabilities? The union is concerned SOLELY with the wages and benefits of its members, and unfortunately our kids and their families don’t pay union dues.
What a betrayal of trust! For all intents and purposes, the teachers union IS the de facto SCHOOL BOARD!!
The special education teachers I’ve worked with, go over and above the requirements of their contract agreement with the district. Wonderful, dedicated employees, I can’t think of any exceptions…though maybe you’ve had a bad personal experience.
The details you provided, didn’t really make a case against the union. If Sonia Pico isn’t meeting with your group, she should be reported to her supervisor. Being the Director of Special Ed, I don’t believe she’s even a union member. Can’t blame her disregard for your group on the union.
Unions provide reasonable working hours, safety conditions and a living wage. I think all workers deserve this civil right.
Your group doesn’t pay union dues but does provide representation for your dear children. Keep speaking up if the district responds inappropriately.
Frank Engle said:
Francisca and Erin-
What I am hearing from Francisca is the frustration that I have heard from many non-union SDUSD Stakeholders that are being excluded by the district staff in critical conversations and decisions about their own children.
The frustration felt by Francisca is real.
The current Marten Administration and current Board are funded and backed by the Teachers Union so adding 2+2 it is not a stretch to believe that non union stakeholders are not being included because the Union Leadership and the District leadership see no reason for the parent and community volunteers to have a voice because they have no financial or political power….kind of like what you said Erin about not paying Union Dues.
However they DO pay taxes and they DO have the right legally and morally to participate and have their suggestions not just heard, but actually implemented.
I DO NOT beleive that the dedicated Special Ed teachers and support personnel want to exclude Parent or community or caregiver opinions and collaboration.
Unfortunately when the Union and District Leadership blatantly exclude the volunteers on the CAC from critical decisions and do it in a dismissive way, the volunteer parents and community feel that the whole District is to blame and those dedicated Special Ed employees are lumped in with the rest.
I would love to have both of you have a chance to chat to determine what is the most effective way to “keep speaking up” including legal action against the appropriate SDUSD related entity if necessary.
Thank you both for your comments…I know you both are dedicated to only the best for students in the SDUSD and are NOT on the payroll to defend it.
I thought after I wrote this, I forgot to thank you for such thorough reporting, involving much research, documentation and contact sources.
My “union dues” comment was a response to what Francisca wrote…about unions ” concerned solely with the wages and benefits of its members, and unfortunately our kids and their parents don’t pay union dues..” Hope you knew I meant it in a positive way.
There’s such a parallel in the feeling Francisca had, being disregarded, and what happened at SCPA.
The pretense by central office staff, Lamont Jackson, Cindy Marten and Co., a pretense of involving community, a pretense of caring what stakeholder say, and general arrogance when they completely ignore a very concerned and involved community.
I’m not sure what the answer is to making the district live up to their promise, to really listen to volunteer groups and dialogue honestly with them. As far as Special Ed, know the laws and requirements and make sure the district is in compliance. With local control of funding, become informed and hold district accountable about spending.
Just want Francisca to know that I’m on her side and I think she’s doing exactly the right thing, speaking out against district dishonesty and disregard.
But seeing labor unions as the problem? I disagree with her on that. What we need are more union workers, so more workers can live safe, secure and comfortable lives.
And Frank, you’ve really made a difference in what’s happened in the district by keeping stories of district injustice in the news. Many reading, no one disregarding what you have to say.
Frank Engle said:
Thank you Erin for your follow up and your kind words regarding the blog.
As i have said on the blog multiple times, I do not blame the Teachers Union for doing a GREAT job representing their members. In the current toxic Marten SDUSD environment they have a voice and some protection against the retribution of the Senior District senior staff for just trying to do their job and having a thought outside of the royal dictates of Monarch Marten.
Unfortunately NONE of the other SDUSD Stakeholders…including employees form other unions…have even a scintilla of the type of influence the SDEA does…and that is NOT the faiult of the SDEA, It is the fault of the Board who have totally abandoned their responsibility to non-SDEA SDUSD Stakeholders and one-upped the Bersin model by:
– Promoting the inexperienced, career climber Marten who WON’T give them a hard time like Bersin
– Giving in to ALL SDEA contract and operational requests at the expense of students
– Enforcing a autocratic top down management style just like the Bersin Blueprint with the school site administration while allowing the jumping of the site chain of command by SDEA members or anyone with a grudge for being disciplined (like Megan Blum} to undercut site leadership.
This HAS to end before ANY progress or transparency or real collaboration can occur.
The first steps are getting rid of Marten and Foster.
At one time, when a raise was given in the school district, if the teachers got a 5% increase, all the workers did. Shameful if one group benefits and not others. I believe in solidarity and each worker supporting the others.
Yes, when I hear how many principals have been fired, no due process, no real reason, I think about the importance of union protection.
Bersin…There’s a reason the district has this Bersin like feeling. Cindy chose her closest friend, Staci Monreal, as Chief of Staff. Ridiculous pick, as they were both elementary principals, best friends and had very low test scores. But Stacy had handed Cindy her principals job, undeserved and Cindy was paying her back.
Staci Monreal was chosen by Anthony Alvarado, during the Bersin administration. Staci was the head of Literacy, without any particular qualifications. In one year, the Literacy department went from three employees to 92 very highly paid “coaches”. They proceeded to spread their “autocratic, top-down management”, as you mentioned, no coaching of any kind, just targeting and threatening. Reign of terror, we called it.
Now Staci essentially runs the district, while Cindy poses for pictures, gives mindless interviews on the morning news, flies to Sacramento over and over with Marne Foster, and …whatever happened to the documentary maker that used to follow Cindy around and film her every move.? Talk about ego…
So Staci is the executioner, while good little Cindy poses. Staci is the one, wielding the hatchet, driving everyone crazy at the central office, ranting and raving, but very oddly…has anyone every heard her speak at school board meetings? Like her mentor Anthony Alvarado, Staci is the nowhere to be seen. Just pulling the strings, off camera…
I think the best people in the world are those like Francisca or my brother who had a son with Muscular Dystrophy. My brother spent much time and effort making sure his child was properly secured in the bus, had loving care at his school and met the bus at the end of each day.
They must be listened to, no pretense involved.
I have been reading with much interest your excellent research on this series of deplorable scandals in our local school district.
I implore you to persist, and continue to expose the outrageous behavior perpetrated by these self-aggrandizing narcissists.
Marten and Foster should be facing criminal proceedings by now, and the Board themselves should be sacked for incompetence.
Since they are elected to by constituents, why would the Board worry about upsetting Marten or Foster? Unless of course they’re worried about saving their own skin.
If that’s not the case they should publicly call-out Foster and Marten and demand action. Henchman and women like Lamont Jackson, Mitzi Merino, Megan Blum and Staci Monreal must also be investigated and punished if they are guilty of what has been alleged.Speaking of which…
Who does this Board report to, asides from constituents?
Who has authority to challenge these people? And why hasn’t it happened yet?
What can we do to increase pressure and see change?
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