The San Diego Unified Supt. Cindy Marten 2015/16 DIPLOMA MILL SCAM – Marten Unethical Opportunism Exposed!!!


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Diploma Mill Scam


di·plo·ma mill (noun) – an institution or organization that grants large numbers of educational degrees based on inadequate or inferior education and assessment of the recipients.

In the autumn of 2015, SDUSD Supt. Cindy Marten was proven as an abject failure.

Between being named  by the San Diego County Grand Jury as co-conspirator in the Trustee Marne Foster debacle and failing CAASP scores, Marten had no place to hide her administrative and educational ineptness even with the unlimited crony protection by SDUSD Trustees Marne Foster, Richard Barrera, John Lee Evans, Kevin Beiser and Mike McQuary.

The huge steamroller about to crush the career of Marten was Graduation Rates.  In 2015, Graduation Rates DROPPED to 89.4% as indicated by the California Department of Education report below:


The upcoming 2015/16 school year was going to be even tougher on Marten with the addition of A-G requirements and with 41% of SDUSD students not on track to graduate:


But Marten and her unscrupulous inner circle were handed a solution by the California State Legislature and Governor Brown to save their egos..and their skins in the summer of 2015.

The “trigger” for the unscrupulous Diploma Mill Scam strategy was the revocation of the California High School Exit Exam…the CAHSEE.

At the time, the decision was lauded by many groups as a step away from one test that could negate 4 years of classwork.  On the other side, according to the CAAHSE topic on Wikipedia:

Supporters of the test say that since one in ten students fails the test, despite having passing grades, then receiving passing grades in California high schools does not indicate that the student has learned the material.[18]School grades may instead represent rewards from teachers “for being friendly, prepared, compliant, a good school citizen, well organized and hard-working” rather than mastering the subject material.[19] 

To achieve the fake Graduation Rate, Marten took the not “learned the material” to another level.  Once the CAHSEE exposure was removed, the clear failure of Marten exhibited by the poor Common Core CAASP results and inadequate, inequitable ELL and financially challenged Student support strategies was replaced by her Diploma Mill Scam.

Here is some background…

On May 16, 2016, in the aftermath of numerous SDUSD Supt. Cindy Marten statements to media outlets touting a fake  92% graduation rate we posted  “The San Diego Unified Supt Cindy Marten Diploma Mill Scam – Introduction”.

At that time we promised our readers the following:

District Deeds will illustrate each of the potentially unethical and operationally inadequate strategies we uncovered that Marten and her Senior Staff implemented and the Board of Education may or may not have approved to artificially pump up 2015/2016 Graduation Rates – District Deeds, 5/16/16

In an article in the Voice of San Diego, the same general Graduation Cohort numbers that we have been reviewing since May, were succinctly and effectively illustrated:


Voice of San Diego

Subsequently, in a followup article in the VOSD, the “Grad Rate Miracle” was that credit recovery was accomplished through online classes.  This “news” was probably already known by virtually every SDUSD Instructional employee and every family (and there were many) whose student actually took an Edgenuity online credit recovery class.

But there is MORE…a LOT MORE!

NOT listed in the VOSD articles, or anywhere else, are the unethical tactics willfully ignored by Supt. Marten and her inner circle cronies that District Deeds classifies as “Grad Rate Scams” to produce the SDUSD Diploma Mill.

Through conversation with San Diego Unified Principals, Teachers, Counselors, Students and Parents, District Deeds has uncovered FOUR “Grad Rate Scams” under the guidance of Supt. Cindy Marten:

 1. No Proctor = Black Market Class Completion

Proctor:  A person appointed to keep watch over students at examinations.

Supt. Cindy Marten has enthusiastically embraced online class credit recovery with no proctor.  Classes can be done anywhere remotely from any computer as long as that individual has a valid logon and password.

According to an article by Pearson titled  “Controlling Cheating in Online Courses-A Primer”, there are seven “fairly low tech” ways a student can cheat with Online Classes and Tests.  Through conversations with San Diego Unified Students, District Deeds has learned that High School and College Students have started their own “Black Market” businesses completing Edgenuity classes online for a variety of payments.

For completing classes, these Black Marketeer Students may be paid with cash, drugs or alcohol.  For a single lesson, the payment can be as simple as food…a lunch or dinner.

There are stories from Teachers and Counselors of Students who have failed a class twice and then actually completing the same class in single week on Edgenuity and the credit was given with no questions asked.

Just like a Diploma Mill!!!

According to VOSD, 1,381 SDUSD took online classes WITHOUT a Proctor.

An infographic from estimates that 33% of students cheat in online classes.  If that is the case, 460 SDUSD students or more, with no proctoring, could have cheated and may not have graduated.  Adding those those 460 students not graduating would have dropped the graduation rate to 84%!!! 

2. The Disappearing “D” in A-G Requirements

District Deeds has verified that some a-g Science Courses provided by the SDUSD require 20% “wet lab” time.

For reference, here is the definition of a-g

What does “a-g” mean?

“a-g” refers to the subjects, and number of years of each, that are required to meet the subject requirement for admission to UC.

The “a-g” subjects are (“a”) history/social science, (“b”) English, (“c”) mathematics, (“d”) laboratory science, (“e”) language other than English, (“f”) visual and performing arts, and (“g”) college-preparatory electives. UC labels them by the letters “a-g” rather than numbers or some other labeling system. – U/C Admissions

According to the UC Admissions A-G Guide Requirements, “d” laboratory science subjects must contain this guideline:

Courses will include teacher-supervised, hands-on laboratory activities that are directly related to, and support, the other class work, and that involve inquiry, observation, analysis and write-up. These hands-on inquiry-based activities will constitute a significant portion of the instruction and account for at least 20 percent of class time. Hands-on laboratory activities must explicitly address safe and ethical practices with respect to experimenters, society and the environment. – UC Admissions A-G Guide

The California Department of Education (CDE) has strict guidelines on the facilities required for the “hands on laboratory activities”:

Laboratories shall be designed in accordance with the planned curriculum.

  1. Science laboratory:

    1. Size is at least 1300 square feet including storage and teacher preparation area.

    2. Science laboratory design is consistent with the requirements for proper hazardous materials management specified in both the “Science Facilities Design for California Public Schools,” published by the California Department of Education, 1993, and the “Science Safety Handbook for California Public Schools,” published by the California State Department of Education, 1999.

    3. Accommodations are made for necessary safety equipment and storage of supplies; e.g., fire extinguisher, first aid kit, master disconnect valve for gas.

    4. Secured storage areas are provided for volatile, flammable, and corrosive chemicals and cleaning agents.

    5. Properly designated areas are provided with appropriate ventilation for hazardous materials that emit noxious fumes, including a high volume purge system in the event of accidental release of toxic substances which may become airborne.

    6. Exhaust fume hoods, eye washes, deluge showers are provided.

    7. Floor and ceiling ventilation is provided in areas where chemicals are stored.

    8. Room is provided for movement of students around fixed-learning stations.

    9. There is the capability for technology which complements the curriculum.

    10. Classrooms are flexibly designed to insure full student access to laboratory stations and lecture areas.

District Deeds sources have told us that Science Classes are being held ALL YEAR in libraries and plain classrooms with the knowledge and approval of the Principal, Area Superintendent and Supt. Marten with NONE of the functional requirements including plumbing, ventilation and equipment for the safety of Students and Staff.

For example, on the La Jolla High School campus, a Science class requiring a “wet lab” was held in the Library with absolutely none of the Safety specifications identified by the California Department of Education listed above with a research paper improperly taking the place of the “hands on” Lab. 

If this violation can happen on the La Jolla campus with all the financial resources and community oversight through its La Jolla Cluster Partnership Agreement and   Foundation, the odds are that this is a widespread issue across the SDUSD where there is a huge disparity in support for financially disadvantaged and immigrant student populations.  For those regular and online Science classes in SDUSD High Schools that DO NOT comply with the 20% lab time and/or follow safety standards, the violations invalidate the Science Class credits, falsifies Student Transcripts and puts Students and Teachers health at risk.

District Deeds could find NO proof of oversite by UC/CSU on the Lab conditions for students on each SDUSD campus.  The enables the SDUSD Diploma Mill, under the guidance of Supt. Cindy Marten, to jam through credits with no risk of exposure.

For many graduated students that have taken Science in these conditions and current Students that continue to take those classes, the SDUSD has essentially betrayed them and their families by falsifying their transcripts and invalidated their Graduation.

In conclusion, Science Classes, both online and in classroom, with an inadequate, illegal Science Lab environment eliminates the “D” in the touted A-G requirements and invalidate the 91% Graduation Rates that Marten and her SDUSD Trustee Cronies have bragged and essentially lied about for the past few months.

 3. Unknowns and Dropouts are Missing in Action

According to the VOSD article every single one of the 11,023 student 2012 Freshman class are accounted for…there are NO “unknowns” on the list who started as freshmen in the class of 2016.

There are only 87 dropouts out of the 11,023 students – a .8% Dropout Rate…eight TENTHS of a percent!!!  Pew Research estimated that there was a 7% dropout rate in 2015, the most recent year measured.

It is no different in the SDUSD.  In conversations with SDUSD counselors, some students and families just disappear…no one knows where they went.  There is NO “Unknown” on the list provided by the SDUSD to VOSD.  Apparently the SDUSD decided to make them disappear from the reports also!

Splitting the difference of the Pew Research report, that would add 3.5% to the dropout rate and adding 1% “Unknowns” from the 11,023 student total equals 496 MORE students to the non-graduate category.

Adding those those 496 students to the other students not graduating would have dropped the graduation rate to 76%!!! 

 4.  Social Graduation – Principal Graduation Waivers

There is a term used in education called “Social Promotion”

According to the edglossary, the definition is as follows:

Social promotion is the practice of promoting students to the next grade level even when they have not learned the material they were taught or achieved expected learning standards.

In SDUSD Administrative Procedure 4770; Instruction, Academic Achievement; Graduation from Senior High School, there is an item that allows students to graduate without completing the classes required…here is the item:

13. Waivers and Certification of Graduates: State-mandated coursework as outlined in Education Code §51225.3(a)(1) may not be waived. Waivers to other requirements adopted by the governing board of the school district may be granted in specific cases with compelling circumstances. With the Area Superintendent’s approval, the principal has the authority to grant waivers and will make the determination in each case. All such waivers must be documented on the Principal’s Waiver of Graduation Requirements form (Attachment 1), the information filed in the student’s permanent records folder at the school site, and the form retained at the school. The Principal’s Certification of Graduates form (Attachment 2) must be completed and submitted within two weeks after each graduation event (mid-year, June, or end of summer school) to the Office of Secondary Schools.

Here is Attachment 1:



Here is attachment 2


There are many open questions regarding the Principal Waiver:

How many waivers are given each year in each school?

Who knows…NOT on any Graduation Reports we can uncover.

How does a student qualify for a Graduation Waiver?

Apparently, according to Item 13, Graduation Waivers:

may be granted in specific cases with compelling circumstances.

But that just creates MORE questions…

What TYPE of “specific cases”?

What KIND of “compelling circumstances”?

What EQUITY is there between High Schools on what is considered “specific cases with compelling circumstances”?  Are the quantity and type of “Social Graduation” cases the same at Lincoln as they are at La Jolla as they are at Serra?

As usual with Supt. Marten and the SDUSD Board…like the Marne Foster scandal…they are obviously hiding the facts to protect their own guilt.

To summarize – Cindy Marten is guilty of dereliction of duty as San Diego Unified School District Superintendent:

  • By ignoring the risks of online credit recovery and employing virtually no safeguards against Black Market Class Completion thereby allowing cheating to earn credits towards Graduation.
  •  By allowing Science classes to be run without “Wet Lab” time and turning the a-g “d” into “Dumbing Down” to maximize passing grades without actually completing the work according to CDE and UC/CSU requirements.
  • By “cooking the books” and conveniently losing nearly 3,000 students between Freshman and Senior year with NO “unknowns” and only a ridiculously low 86 “dropouts” thereby decreasing the number of non-graduates to increase Graduation Rate.
  • By hiding the scope and scale of Social “Graduation Waivers” to increase Graduation Rate.

These 4 failures of trust and ethics by Supt. Marten, through her tactics to enact the SDUSD Diploma Mill Scam with the unlimited crony protection by SDUSD Trustees Marne Foster, Richard Barrera, John Lee Evans, Kevin Beiser, Mike McQuary and Sharon Whitehurst Payne has irrevocably damaged the quality, value and reputation of education in the San Diego Unified School District and put all its graduates at risk of failure when they advance to college or career.

That betrayal of Students by Cindy Marten and the Board of Education PROVE they are no longer fit to serve as the leadership of the San Diego Unified School District.



  • Your family has been injured by the San Diego Unified School District, go to the District Deeds Complaint Forms page to find instructions to fight for your Civil Rights!

Please Click the Link Below and sign the Petition Today and READ the COMMENTS to Support the REMOVAL of Marten by SDUSD Stakeholders! 

FIRE San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten Immediately!

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About District Deeds

Mr. Engle is a blogger dedicated to investigating the San Diego Unified School District. His blog, District Deeds, strives to create transparency to the "deeds" the SDUSD hides from the SDUSD Stakeholders - Students - Parents - Teachers - Administrators - Community Members

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