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Happy Summer Vacation to all our readers in the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) and worldwide!

Today, in our District Deeds Sunday Reads Summer Edition, we address a periodic money grabbing scam by the corrupt San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) called “Proposal Grifting”.  Every 2 or 4 years in the election cycle, especially since 2008 when corrupt Board of Education Trustee “Tricky Dick” Barrera was unfortunately elected, there has been an effort to pump fresh cash into the pockets of political cronies under the guise of facility and operational “improvements”.  To help address this scam we are featuring an excellent article from inewsource  by Andrea Figueroa Briseño.  The in depth investigation and reporting by Ms. Briseño is refreshing compared to the standard local San Diego news organizations that suck up to the SDUSD Media Relations Propaganda Department to lazily gain access and regurgitate propaganda press releases verbatim.

We have posted the full article sans pictures and, as per our Summer Version standard, we are trying (believe it or not) to keep our commentary and analysis to a minimum.  We strongly urge our readers to not only read the full featured inewsource article on their website, but to also explore inewsource and articles from Ms. Briseño as a way to see BOTH SIDES of a SDUSD issue.  Click on the title and author (in red) and review the full articles for themselves and their family.

School shootings are becoming the norm. San Diego Unified wants to do something about it.

by Andrea Figueroa Briseño
July 27, 2022

With mass shootings continuing in schools across the country, San Diego Unified leaders are going to voters in November for approval to borrow $3.2 billion to pay for security and safety improvements.

The district Board of Education unanimously voted on the bond package Tuesday. If approved by district voters, $296 million would pay for security and safety improvements, with remaining funds going to renovate facilities and address a backlog of deferred maintenance.

The borrowing plan is the district’s fourth in 15 years, totaling $11.5 billion.

Several community members spoke in support of the bond during public comment Tuesday, with some adding how paramount student safety is.

“As a parent, I know it’s important,” said Sabrina Bazzo, San Diego Unified board vice president, about the proposed safety improvements.

The district’s vote comes on the heels of a summer struck by gun violence after several shootings led to mass casualties. Ten Black people died in May after a white gunman opened fire at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket. In June, a mass shooting took place at a Ulvade, Texas school, resulting in the death of 19 children and two teachers. Then in July, an Independence Day parade outside Chicago turned deadly when a gunman fired more than 70 rounds, injured more than three dozen individuals and killed seven victims.

The shooting in Uvalde, in particular, set off a familiar debate – in San Diego and elsewhere – over how best to protect children: hardening schools or making it more difficult to purchase guns.

Richard Barrera, a San Diego Unified board member, says there’s a false political debate backed by gun advocates that the answer to the mass school shooting issue is to equip facilities to improve security instead of restricting guns. The answer, he added, is to do both.

“It’s about putting all of the elements in place, the technology and the physical protections, to try to guard against these situations,” he said.

Technology like emergency communications systems are needed so that teachers are able to talk with administration or law enforcement from their classrooms if ever in a dangerous situation such as an active shooter on campus, he said. Other security improvements the district aims to address include fencing, secure single-entry points to campus, lighting, security cameras and automatic door locks.

San Diego Unified students also have the safety of their school communities on their mind.

For Shukriya Osman, a rising senior at Patrick Henry High School, it’s frightening to think about the open design of her school and what she would need to do if ever faced with an active shooter.

“Having those conversations shouldn’t be something that’s very common, but it is,” she said.

San Diego students are not immune from threats

A day before students at Patrick Henry High School got ready to walk out of classes in early June against gun violence, shooter threats against the school surfaced, said Osman, adding that the school notified her through email the afternoon before the walkout.

“We were all very scared,” she said, that a shooter threat was made against our campus. “We literally had to take a break from organizing. Like, is this real? Is this gonna happen?”

Anticipating the worst, many students that day chose to not show up despite the threat being ruled unsubstantiated the day before, said Osman, who helped organize the walk out along with other student activists. It was determined that the threat was a misunderstanding of conversation overheard by the individual reporting the matter, said Samer Naji, facilities communications supervisor for the district.

It was Osman’s first time experiencing such a threat after transferring from a private San Diego school last year. But the situation wasn’t out of the ordinary for some of her PHHS peers, who told her security threats are common at the school.

During the 2021-2022 school year, there were 113 potential criminal threat calls for service reported to the communications center, said Naji.

“While each threat is taken seriously and is investigated, not all were credible and led to a security action,” he said.

Active shooter threats have hit close to home for San Diego Unified schools in the last four months. Students at Taft Middle School in Serra Mesa received threatening messages of a possible shooter on campus in June. The incident at Taft followed a threat of a possible shooter which prompted lockdowns at a total of six secondary, middle and elementary schools in the Black Mountain Ranch and 4S Ranch communities in May and at Lincoln High School in March.

Naji said schools in the district practice lockdown drills twice a year, with school police conducting training in options-based response, allowing for evacuation unlike the traditional lockdown where individuals can only remain in hiding until the situation is announced as clear.

Osman said she has mixed feelings about her safety at school, especially since her campus has an open design. But she believes that students are fearful of an active shooter no matter what their campus looks like.

“It’s still like a very scary and very real emotion,” she said.

The reality of school shootings has been overwhelming, said Lea Nepomuceno, one of two San Diego Unified student board members. Nepomuceno is a rising senior at Scripps Ranch High School and since the age of 13 has created several advocacy groups and podcasts to educate youth on gun violence prevention and the criminal justice system.

“I think it’s also these moments that remind us that … all of us are vulnerable to (gun violence), and because of that we all the more need to make the quantifiable action and change to ensure that our kids are safe at school. That we are safe from gun violence, whether it be urban gun violence, whether it be these school or mass shootings,” said Nepomuceno.

Security improvements in San Diego Unified schools

With funding from previous bonds approved by voters, so far the district has been able to invest $121.3 million toward school security and more projects are underway.

All San Diego Unified schools have undergone some measure of physical security improvements like perimeter fencing and secure single point of entry and are prioritized by vulnerability significance, said Naji. He adds that emergency communications systems have been installed at more than 60 of the 180 schools, with remaining installments to be completed by the end of 2024.

The district plans to invest an additional $250 million of the current bonds before 2024 toward school security and safety. Investments in drinking water quality, solar, classroom equipment, technology infrastructure, joint use athletic fields and charter school projects were also made possible through those bonds.

Like previous bonds, this new bond would also fund water filtration systems, improve air quality in school buildings, solar panels and other energy sustainability projects. It would also fund asbestos remediation, classroom technology, the development of new facilities to support education pathways and create affordable housing for employees.

“We’ve been doing our part and we’ll continue to do our part as part of this bond measure,” Barrera said, referring to making the safety improvements on campuses. “But action on restricting access to these mass weapons is also necessary to protect our kids.”

San Diego Unified board members have formally asked members of Congress to take action to restrict access to the types of weapons frequently used in mass school shootings.

In June, the board members called on the U.S. Senate to take action against gun violence in a letter and approve the Protect Our Kids Act, legislation passed by the House in June. The bill would raise the legal age to buy some semi-automatic weapons from 18 to 21, create new federal offenses for gun trafficking and selling large capacity magazines, bolster existing rules on bump stocks, a device attached to the front of the gun enabling it to fire more rapidly, and ban ghost guns, which are untraceable and unserialized firearms that can be bought over the internet and assembled at home. Measures to improve school safety and the regulation of gun sales were approved by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors just days after the House passed the bill, allowing the county to file liability claims against firearms businesses for violence associated with the guns it sells.

But Haney Hong, president and CEO of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy think tank and government watchdog group, said funding deferred maintenance with borrowed money will cost voters double because the bond money will need to be paid back with interest. Moreover, it wouldn’t be smart to fund technology with a bond when the length of financing is longer than the life of the technology, he said.

While we acknowledge that there is deferred maintenance that has to get done, borrowing money is not necessarily the best way to tackle this,” Hong said, adding that he questions the district’s management of previous bonds.

Every election cycle, the organization reviews bond proposals that will be placed on the ballot to ensure that taxpayers money is being used effectively and efficiently. The association originally supported the district’s first bond in 2008, opposed their 2012 proposal over funding used to pay deferred maintenance and has yet to share a formal stance on the new proposal.

Even though some items listed on the new bond proposal are similar to what the district stated it needed when pitching the previous bonds, a 2019 audit on Props S and Z and Measure YY, the most recent audit available, shows that the district was in compliance and some projects were under budget.

Barrera said the district can promise voters that there will be no tax increase as a result of this bond by keeping their current tax rate for the new bond. But Hong argues that although the district can project that there will be no tax increase, that’s not something they can guarantee.

“Conditions change and if conditions change and they have the authority to still… borrow the money. And then we all get saddled with the bill with the current conditions,” Hong said, adding that the only thing that can be guaranteed is that they won’t exceed the state limit.

However, Jeff Vincent, director of public infrastructure initiatives at Center for Cities and Schools, said there is a way the district can promise a no tax increase. If the district plans on paying off a current bond before the new one issues, they can structure its amount and number of years it’s paid off the same as the bond that’s sunsetting, or being paid off, he said.

“Like on your property tax bill, you wouldn’t see any change. It would be as if that line item or that bond just kind of continued, but it’s actually another bond,” Vincent said.

Many school bonds placed on the ballot were failing to be approved until 2000, when Prop 39 passed, reducing the supermajority needed to approve a bond from 65 percent to 55 percent, he said. He adds that since then, a higher percentage of local school bonds are approved each year that wouldn’t have otherwise been passed.

More school bonds would have been approved between June 1986 and March 2000 if the 55 percent requirement would’ve been in place then according to past success rates, reports the California Budget and Policy Center.

“It’s somewhat easier for school districts to be successful, but there’s still a fair amount of accountability measures on that. They still have to convince voters that there’s a need, so it’s definitely not a slam dunk,” he said.

Although the chances of a school bond passing has improved since Prop 39, there’s been a slight drop in the number of school bonds that have been successful the last couple of years, he said.

In spite of the odds, Barrera said he’s optimistic that voters will once again vote yes on the school bond measure.

He adds that, “San Diegans have consistently said yes to investing in our schools and investing in our kids and I will expect that they will do that again.”

District Deeds Synopsis and Analysis:

As we said in our introduction, this is an excellent article by inewsource.  To set a base line, we assume that no SDUSD Stakeholder would be against further protections against school violence and school shootings.  With a $1.6 BILLION budget and MILLIONS of dollars of Covid and other Federal and State relief funds, the SDUSD has the financial ability to currently protect every single person that steps on a SDUSD property without ANY new propositions..

But, in reality, this is actually a coverup wrapped in a Proposition.

In this “$3.2 billon” proposal package approved by the corrupt SDUSD Board of Education, we decided to look at the, “Lead in Water” and “School Safety” components, briefly dissect the pertinent facts presented in the article and then tie them to the manipulative “Crying Game” behaviors we outlined last week in Sunday Reads.

To refresh your memory, here is the “Crying Game” list:

Manipulative behavior includes actions a person uses to gain influence or control over someone else. These behaviors may include:

  • Lying
  • Denying
  • Passive-aggressive behavior
  • Gaslighting
  • Silence
  • Criticizing
  • Withholding
  • Blaming
  • Getting a person outside of their comfort zone to give themselves an advantage

Lead in Water and School Safety SHOULD be a cornerstone of the $1.6 billion budget, not “Proposition Grifting”. 


FIVE YEARS AGO on July 19, 2017 we posted “Flint Water West? SDUSD Supt. Marten and Board Covered Up “Lead in Water” Investigation for SEVEN MONTHS!!!

Although there have been spotty, ad hoc “Lead in Water” interventions (San Diego Unified Unveils New Hydration Stations), the district has done virtually nothing to completely fix the problem.  The simple fact is:  SDUSD Students and other Stakeholders are drinking “Lead in Water” on many campuses and SDUSD facilities.

The Senior SDUSD Leadership have had $1.6 billion x 5 years…$8 BILLION to find the money to fix the lead in water problem.  According to the featured article, in this NEW proposition:

Like previous bonds, this new bond would also fund water filtration systems

Obviously for over 5 years, the SDUSD has allowed some portion of Students and other campus employees and visitors to be POISONED and drink LEADED WATER!  If poisoned lead water had already been fully addressed it wouldn’t be part of this new proposal approved by the Board of Education.

Poisoned water to Students?

Hey Tricky Dick…isn’t that just 14 years of “deferred” murders on campus under your leadership?

Why Pick School Safety?

Revealing the poisoning of students and fixing the gross mismanagment of leaded water on SDUSD sites does not SELL to voters…it only SELLS voters to get rid of corrupt SDUSD Board of Education Trustees (like Tricky Dick Barrera) who have mismanaged the $8 billion while poisoning Students.

Instead the SDUSD Propaganda Department picked a current hot topic – School Shootings and Gun Violence –  to SUCKER and SELL San Diego Voters an another high profile “Proposition Grift”

Over the past 8 years we have been through these SDUSD “Proposition Grifting” and “Proposal Grifting” scams before.

Lead in Water has been one of them.  Another was our article from April 2018 AFTER SDUSD Prop S was deployed:  SDUSD Prop S Taxpayer $2.1 Billion Con Job…Students Must Wait 60 Days for Computer Repairs…Official Doc Enclosed!! where we said:

They moved the goal posts to make themselves look like they were achieving instead of miserably failing.

Instead of restoring IT staffing to meet the 10 day commitment, they instead just changed the “best practice” to a “worst practice” and added almost 2 months to the time to resolve i21 Classroom service requests.

In other words, if a classroom has a technical breakdown in their i21 classroom today, April 5, 2018, the soonest Students, Teachers, Administrators and Support Staff can be assured that the issue will be resolved is June 5, 2018, one week before the June 13th end of the 2017/18 school year.

Here is more evidence from the featured article:

“Fact” # 1 Quote:  $296 million would pay for security and safety improvements, with remaining funds going to renovate facilities and address a backlog of deferred maintenance.” 

Related Manipulative Behavior:

  • Gaslighting
  • Withholding

District Deeds Analysis:

Doing the math, “$296 million” represents only 9% of the $3.2 BILLION “Proposal Grift” bond money.  So why would the corrupt SDUSD Board of Education and Propaganda department be leading off the discussion with the encouraging the press to push the “security and safety improvements” instead of 91% of the money going to Barrera’s labor and construction cronies and to coverup the potential poisoning of SDUSD Students?  Just check out the quotes:

By the newly elected board member Bazzo using the parent card: “As a parent, I know it’s important,” .

Really Bazzo?!? “As a parent” is it just “as important” to allow Barrera to funnel the other 91% of the money as quid pro quo for election contributions?  By the way, Tricky Dick Barrera DID NOT recuse himself from the vote even with his ties to labor organizations benefitting from the other 91% of the money.  You would think that Bazzo, “As a parent”, would object to this unethical activity.

Guess not THAT much of a parent!

“Fact” # 2: Quote: Even though some items listed on the new bond proposal are similar to what the district stated it needed when pitching the previous bonds, a 2019 audit on Props S and Z and Measure YY, the most recent audit available, shows that the district was in compliance and some projects were under budget.

Related Manipulative Behavior:

  • Lying
  • Withholding
  • Getting a person outside of their comfort zone to give themselves an advantage

District Deeds Analysis:

So even though the SDUSD is asking for MORE money for the SAME projects “similar to what the district stated it needed when pitching the previous bonds” it is OK since “a 2019 audit on Props S and Z and Measure YY, the most recent audit available, shows that the district was in compliance and some projects were under budget.”

This is a lie by omission and withholds the actual facts to manipulate the very students interviewed and general public opinion by “getting them outside their comfort zone.

How many of the Students and others interviewed are Certified Public Accountants?  How many of the individuals interviewed know the difference between an Internal Audit and a Forensic Audit?

Here is the definition from CPA and consulting firm firm Eide Bailey:

“A forensic audit/examination is designed to focus on reconstructing past financial transactions for a specific purpose, such as concerns of fraud, whereas an internal audit is typically focused more on compliance and/or the performance of the organization.”

We were able to locate the actual “PROPOSITIONS S AND Z AND MEASURE YY BOND PROGRAM PERFORMANCE AUDIT REPORT” created by the outsourced audit firm and we found the evaluation on the disastrous I21  initiative highlighted above in SDUSD Prop S Taxpayer $2.1 Billion Con Job…Students Must Wait 60 Days for Computer Repairs…Official Doc Enclosed!! .

Here is the I21 assessment:

The evaluation of the i21 initiative was strictly confined to an i21 Classroom Sustainability plan and Technology Advisory Group meetings  but ZERO assessment regarding the issues we reported with the actual INEFFECTIVE delivery of those initiatives to the classrooms, this was obviously an INTERNAL audit, not a FORENSIC audit.

This fact means that the SDUSD Internal Audit was NOT a Forensic Audit and DID NOT have a “focus on reconstructing past financial transactions for a specific purpose, such as concerns of fraud

Misrepresenting the 2019 Audit and lying to the press and Stakeholders to cover up gross financial and operational mismanagement is evidence of their guilt.

The Bottom Line Truth:

The SDUSD is clearly attempting to manipulate SDUSD Stakeholders on this “Proposal Grift” though:

  • “Lying” by omission about the i21 dysfunction.
  • “Withholding” actual reports we provided in our article from April 5, 2018 a FULL YEAR before this internal Audit was published on June 30, 2019.
  • Pushing SDUSD Parents and other Stakeholders “outside of their comfort zone to give themselves an advantage” by using an internal audit as “proof” instead of a FORENSIC Audit, counting on them to not know the difference.

The truth is that the SDUSD has attempted to misuse and misrepresent an audit to con San Diego voter into ANOTHER “Proposition Grift“.

If the corrupt SDUSD Leadership is willing to lie about Poisoned Water and Audits in other Propositions, why should we beleive them on any future “Proposition Grifts“?

Despite all that, eternally dishonest Tricky Dick Barrera is already pretty confident according to the article:

“Barrera said he’s optimistic that voters will once again vote yes on the school bond measure.

He adds that, “San Diegans have consistently said yes to investing in our schools and investing in our kids and I will expect that they will do that again.”

District Deeds Translation:

“Barrera said he’s optimistic that voters will once again be conned into another “Proposition Grift” to pay off his political backers and ignore his ongoing conflict of interest regarding his affilliate Construction and Labor organizations that provide him and his elected cronies milliions of campaign dollars”

The formula is simple:

  • Distract with a current hot topic…like campus violence…that represents only 9% of funds
  • Divert the other 91% to self serving projects and operational coverups (lead in SDUSD Site water)
  • Feed the local press with the “hot topic”
  • Laugh all the way to election day.

Unfortunately there is another final disgusting strategy in play specifically from Tricky Dick Barrera.  It is the “Proposition Grift” feature where he “wins” whether the Prop passes or not.  Here is the current scenario:

If the Proposition PASSES, he gets all the rewards from his political backers.

If the Proposition FAILS, he gains “plausible deniability” to blame future violence mismanagment failures and any future murders on campus by just saying: “That is why we needed to pass the proposition preventing on campus violence.” and avoids any and all mismanagment accountability.

Win/Win for Barrera over the dead bodies of poisoned and murdered SDUSD Stakeholders.

No wonder Barrera is “Optimistic”.  His political future is bright!

Now for our quote of the week, dedicated to voting NO on this newest “Proposition Grift” and to ALL SDUSD Stakeholder readers who have spent their important vacation time reading District Deeds Sunday Reads Summer Edition….Thank You!

“Winning at any expense can be costly.” ― Frank Sonnenberg


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