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Yes, Yogi, you were right. It is like “deja vu all over again” .

In the waning moments of 2011, Sweetwater Union High School District officials past and present had their homes raided by the District Attorney’s office. Perhaps the only people not stunned by news that investigators were rummaging through the personal belongings of board member Pearl Quiñones or knocking on the front door of Arlie Ricasa —to name but two people facing corruption charges against them—were those in the inner circles of law enforcement and the school district.

SUHSD isn’t Las Vegas. What happens in the district doesn’t stay in the district. If you want to know who is in line for a promotion, who is on their way out or who is going to have to lawyer up chances are most of that information can be heard at the district board meetings. You just need to know which people to sit next to.

But if you’re a district employee there is an unspoken penalty for speaking out of turn or even being seen with the wrong people. At least, that’s the message outsiders hear time and again when they drop in and start asking questions.

As one individual wrote in an email.

Thank you again for covering this story.  Many teachers have not been able to speak out for years due to the culture of retribution in our district.  I would like to remain anonymous as a result of this.

The sentiment was prompted by yet another legal blast in the ongoing Sweetwater corruption saga. The grand jury on Dec. 28 announced it was indicting its own set of suspects connected to the the school district.

Whether the timing of the announcement was intended to be symbolic or merely coincidental doesn’t make much difference to weary employees who are sick of learning about leadership’s alleged corruption at press conferences, or of parents who, really, just want their kids to get the best education minus the drama. Is that too much to ask? A reasonable person would say no. But if you watch what happens at the district on a daily basis and speak up in hope righting wrongs, speaking out could get you in trouble.

The corruption trial involving former Superintendent Jesus Gandara, Quiñones, Ricasa and others is supposed to begin in February. On Jan.7 the figures in the grand jury action will be in court for arraignment. High profile cases like these generally get tongues wagging. Of course, for those who choose to be mute for fear of losing their jobs or being retaliated against, there are other ways of getting a message across.

“I have been present at numerous SUHSD board meetings to listen to the antics and folly of these inept, corrupt figureheads.  I have created three visuals for your use.”

To see a related video, click here.


3 Responses to “NEW YEAR ALL OVER AGAIN”

  1. sosocal Says:

    So, does anyone know what will be happening with the board’s business while all this is being organized for trial? Shouldn’t some entity step in, as this group is clearly no longer remotely functional (not that they ever were)? County Board of Education, any comments? State Board of Education, any recommendations?

    What are we supposed to do here in Sweetwater? Leave everything to Brand and McCann now? Forgive me, but that doesn’t seem like a very good idea. There’s no telling how many more consultants will be brought in, followed by additional required furlough days for the teachers, so that Brand’s pals can be paid.

  2. Carlos Davalos Says:

    Business carries on as usual.

  3. sosocal Says:

    It might be a good idea to run an article about how things are being handled at the Sweetwater district office.

    Isn’t it facinating that nothing is being said by anyone?

    I would think that their PR staff would at least put something out…some pro forma declaration…but that’s Sweetwater’s administration. Why do the reasonable, sensible thing, when you can so easily:

    a) do nothing at all;
    b) attempt to smear the one member of the board who listens to the public and does the right thing;
    c) cover up, stall, obfuscate and waste educational dollars (the big dirt pile, etc.);
    d) develop make-work projects and hire pals;
    e) scheme to give away vast amounts of our educational dollars to for-profit educational entities with very questionable credentials;
    f) the list could go on forever–and NONE of this is even a part of all the endictments!!

    What about really opening up this story, Carlos? There’s room for more than one muckraker.