Tuesday, August 7, 2012

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

How pervasive is the 'Penn State culture' in college athletics?

How pervasive is the 'Penn State culture' in college athletics?
By Karin Klein
LA Times
July 12, 2012

By this point, it comes as no surprise that an exhaustive inquiry into the sexual abuse scandal involving Penn State University and former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky found that it wasn't just a matter of people high and low in the hierarchy who didn't do the right thing. The failure to end the long-term molestations resulted from a university culture in which athletics reigned supreme, football coaches were revered and even feared, and the foremost concern among top officials wasn't to protect children or do the just thing but to protect the university.

I don't doubt any of this, but I can't help wondering whether Penn State was some kind of anomaly in the world of universities with major team-athletics programs. If we looked with equal intensity at the top 50 or so universities in this group, would we find similar disproportionate power among key coaches, similar fear among the people who work for them and a similar culture of protecting the institution above all else?

This isn't to let Penn State off the hook in any way, or to imply that sexual abuse of children is a problem in the world of higher education; the question is whether universities have overlooked longstanding cultures that have the potential to hide a wide range of problems. Have we bowed too much to the mighty athletic program?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

14 mothers sue LAUSD, charging 'Culture of Silence' hides teacher misconduct

The suit also seeks reforms to the Los Angeles Unified School District, which "has a practice and custom of maintaining a 'Culture of Silence' to hide teacher misconduct, and to ignore teacher misconduct," the suit said.

Mothers in Los Angeles school child sex abuse case sue district
By Michael Martinez, Natalie Brunell and Jaqueline Hurtado
July 11, 2012

Fourteen mothers, whose children prosecutors say were sexually abused by a Los Angeles teacher facing 23 felony charges, sued the school district on Tuesday seeking damages for "generalized shock and trauma."

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, also seeks unspecified "compensatory economic and special damages for medical expenses," which include psychological therapy, according to court papers and attorneys for the plaintiffs.

The suit also seeks reforms to the Los Angeles Unified School District, which "has a practice and custom of maintaining a 'Culture of Silence' to hide teacher misconduct, and to ignore teacher misconduct," the suit said.

The legal action stems from a criminal case against former teacher Mark Berndt of Miramonte Elementary, who is being held on $23 million bond and faces 23 felony counts of lewd acts on children.

Berndt, 61, pleaded not guilty in February to allegations he bound young students, then photographed them with semen-filled spoons held at their mouths and three-inch cockroaches crawling across their faces, among other graphic depictions.

L.A. schools review past 40 years of teacher discipline cases in misconduct crisis The 23 victims were between 7 and 10 years old, and all but two of them were girls, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said.

The 14 mothers' lawsuit says Berndt took photographs of their children "with cookies in the mouths of plaintiff's children, and/or blindfolded the children, and/or placed cockroaches on the bodies of plaintiff's children, for the intent of arousing and gratifying the lust, passions and sexual desires of Mark Berndt."

One of two mothers who spoke at a press conference on Tuesday said her now 10-year-old daughter was victimized by Berndt while a student at Miramonte from 2009 to 2010. CNN, which has interviewed the mother in recent months, isn't identifying the mother or other parents in order to protect the identities of the children.

"I am asking for justice and I want justice to be done to this man," the mother, 43, said. She wants the district to be held accountable for its "negligence," she said. In a recent CNN interview, the mother said her daughter went to Berndt's classroom, where "he would give her some cookies. My daughter told me that the teacher would say the cookies had sugar and some white stuff that was on it," the mother said.

In that CNN interview, the mother was joined by her daughter, who told CNN: "We would help him clean his class and he would give us cookies.

"They were white and they had a white stuff on top, and he would put some sort of powder" on the cookie, the girl said. The parents told CNN they didn't tell their daughter what could have been on the cookie.

The girl's father, 46, who joined his wife at Tuesday's press conference, told CNN the couple doesn't want money but rather justice, so other families won't "suffer what's happening to us," the dad said. Their daughter is now enrolled at another school. The daughter and mother are both in counseling, he said.

"We don't want money, because our children's health physically and mentally is not going to be the same," the father said.

The other mother at Tuesday's press conference told reporters that her daughter is now rebellious and is also in counseling.

Five of the children in the civil lawsuit are among the 23 alleged victims in the criminal case, said Luis A. Carrillo, the attorney for the 14 mothers.

Los Angeles County sheriff's detectives are investigating the accusations of the nine other children identified as victims in the civil suit, Carrillo said.

Sheriff's Lt. Carlos Marquez, the lead investigator in the case, said Tuesday that detectives interviewed more than 100 Miramonte students and have presented all those cases to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office for review.

It's up to the district attorney whether to bring charges on behalf of additional victims, beyond the current 23, Marquez said.

Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office, declined to comment Tuesday on whether additional charges would be filed.

Berndt's attorney, public defender Victor Acevedo, declined to comment Tuesday because he hadn't seen the lawsuit.

David Holmquist, general counsel for the Los Angeles school district, said student safety was the system's "paramount priority."

"The district is committed to working with the Miramonte community and everyone impacted by these incidents to improve trust and promote healing," Holmquist said in a statement. "While the district has yet to receive the latest complaint, we are continuing our efforts to ensure that we are doing everything possible to provide a safe learning and working environment for our students and staff."

In May, another civil lawsuit was filed against the school district on behalf of 22 children who claimed they were sexually abused by Berndt, said Carrillo, who also is the attorney for the plaintiffs in that case.

The lawsuit, also filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleged that Berndt "engaged in sexual assault, sexual harassment, which includes sex discrimination per LAUSD's policies, and/or sexual exploitation of the plaintiffs that included lewd, obscene and/or lascivious acts" with the 22 children age 6 to 9 years old between 2002 and 2011, court papers said.

The children of the 14 mothers in Tuesday's lawsuit are also part of the May lawsuit, Carrillo said.

In December 2010, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department began investigating Berndt after authorities learned of hundreds of "questionable photographs of children on film that Mr. Berndt had brought (to) a local store to have developed," according to Tuesday's lawsuit.

Berndt was removed from his teaching job in January 2011 after school officials learned of the police investigation, authorities said.

Authorities have said they have discovered roughly 600 images allegedly taken by Berndt in his classroom.

A teacher for 30 years, Berndt initially challenged the school district's decision to dismiss him. But he eventually dropped his appeal and resigned in spring 2011. His arrest in January led to broader fallout over the adequacy of safeguards for the school's students and the prospect of more victims.

Days after Berndt was taken into custody, another Miramonte Elementary teacher -- Martin Springer, 49 -- was arrested and charged with three felony counts of lewd acts with a girl younger than 14. He has pleaded not guilty.

The Los Angeles Unified School District board subsequently shut Miramonte for two days, during which the board reconstituted the entire staff in the 1,400-student school. Miramonte is in unincorporated Los Angeles County within the Florence-Firestone area, about six miles south of downtown Los Angeles.

Misconduct scandal prompts L.A. schools to send 604 teacher discipline cases to state

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bridgepoint shares fall on accreditation denial

Bridgepoint shares fall on accreditation denial
AP News
July 09, 2012

Shares of Bridgepoint Education Inc. dropped more than 30 percent Monday after the for-profit education provider said a group that certifies schools denied an accreditation for one of its institutions.

THE SPARK: Bridgepoint's Ashford University, which has a campus in Clinton, Iowa, but mostly serves online students, was denied accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Without accreditation, a school can lose its access to federal financial aid, which can comprise as much as 90 percent of for-profit schools' revenue.

THE BIG PICTURE: The Western Association of Schools and Colleges is one of seven regional accrediting commissions. It has jurisdiction over schools located in California. Bridgepoint is based in San Diego.

In its letter to Ashford denying accreditation, the association said it found that the university hadn't shown substantial compliance with its accreditation standards related to student retention and graduation, the alignment of resources with educational objectives and the implementation of a core of full-time faculty that can oversee the university academic policies and ensure the integrity of its programs.

WASC noted that a large number of students who start degree programs at the university drop out, most within a short period of time. It said that over the past five years, 128,000 students have withdrawn from the university, while 240,000 new students have enrolled.

In addition, the university needs to put in place an effective system for assessing student learning and an "empowered and independent" governing board that has an acceptable relationship with Bridgepoint, WASC said in its letter...

‘Twilight’ fan struck and killed by car--Why doesn't Comic-Con just give tickets to the people who are camping in line?

San Diego Comic Con rocked by tragic death: ‘Twilight’ fan struck and killed by car outside convention center The 53-year-old woman, identified as Gisela Gagliardi of Kingston, N.Y. - was racing against the light to get back to the line of Twi-hards, which had started to move, that she had been on since Sunday.
JULY 10, 2012

A "Twilight" fan was struck and killed by a car in front of a horrified crowd of fellow Twi-hards camping out two days ahead of the opening of San Diego Comic-Con.

The 53-year-old woman was running across a busy crosswalk against the light at 9:20 a.m. She was racing to return to her group on a line organizers were moving, when she was hit, the San Diego Union Tribune reported.

A police spokesman told the newspaper that the woman - identified as Gisela Gagliardi of Kingston, N.Y. - had tried to stop herself before she stumbled and fell into the side of a Suburu Outback.

Gagliardi was unconscious and bleeding from the head when an ambulance arrived. She was later pronounced dead at an area hospital.

“If you pray pls do so now for Twi fan G! She was just hit by a car in front of the convention center! She was unconscious when taken hosp,” one fan (@RobKris13) tweeted.

Fellow Twi-hards mourned the death on Twitter with the hashtag "IPTwiFanG" and have started an online petition to have a moment of silence before Thursday's panel for "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2," which will feature stars Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner.

The Outback's driver, an unidentified 67-year-old San Diego man, was questioned by police, but not charged.

“It is with tremendous sadness that we offer our heartfelt condolences,” San Diego Comic-Con spokesman David Glanzer said in a statement. “Our sincere thoughts and prayers go out to all those involved in this tragic incident.”

San Diego Comic-Con, running from July 12-15, is considered the biggest event on the sci-fi, fantasy and comic book lovers' calendar, regularly drawing 250,000 attendees to the four-day event. A seat inside the Convention Center's Hall H, where Hollywood studios often fly in A-list actors to unveil footage of upcoming movies for the 6,000 fans that can cram inside, is especially coveted.

Gagliardi had been with a group of Twi-hards that had been camping out since Sunday.

“It’s such a sad loss for our community,” a fellow fan, Melissa Sandate of Tucson, told the Union Tribune.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Higgs Boson: Why You Should Care About the God Particle. And, Sadly, Why You Don't

Ainissa Ramirez giving a TED Talk. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Ainissa Ramirez, a Yale University materials scientist, likes to call herself a science evangelist, and her passion and expertise at science education is unparalleled. So this week, with the announcement about the discovery of the Higgs Boson, was both exciting–because of an amazing opportunity–and frustrating–because she thought the science world largely blew it.

The Higgs Boson: Why You Should Care About the God Particle. And, Sadly, Why You Don't
By Ainissa Ramirez

Here’s what you need to know about the God Particle.

The Higgs boson (Higgs is a guy’s name, BTW, and a boson is a particle that’s smaller than an atom) is the biggest scientific discovery of the 21st Century. Period.

This discovery is up there with Copernicus. If we did not find the Higgs boson, everything that we understood about how the universe works would have been wrong. We would have had nice equations that describe things we observed in the world, but they would have been crap. That would have been $10 billion flushed down the toilet with the creation of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and we would have gone back to the drawing board with our tail between our legs after fifty years of an aimless pursuit.

It was a big gamble, and we won. It is that big...

So what’s the problem?

One of the founders of the Higgs theory, Gerald Guralnik, was quoted in the New York Times saying he was glad to be at a physics meeting “where there is applause, like a football game.”

The problem is that it’s only physicists that are excited. A few thousand scientists (less than 1 percent of the population) are losing their minds, not taking any calls, getting buzzed in the middle of the day, and crying and hugging each other.

The rest of society is trying to figure out why this is a big whoop.

The biggest discovery of the 21st century, which connects you (and the world and the universe) to the Big Bang, was barely a whimper to over 99 percent of the population.

As Strother Martin said in Cool Hand Luke, “ What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”

I think the nerds got it wrong by not inviting everyone to the party. The biggest discovery of the 21st century may actually widen the gap between scientists and the general public...

I think we should do a better job at teaching science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) using events such as this as a catalyst. Since science is right now part of the national conversation, let’s strike while the iron is hot and create ways to get more people excited about science...

CERN should have hired a PR firm to develop a website for the general public on the Higgs Boson. Maybe CERN should have hired a TV personality to be a spokesperson...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Disturbing e-mails could spell more trouble for Penn State officials

As I have said for a decade, there is too much secrecy in schools, including K-12 public schools.

Disturbing e-mails could spell more trouble for Penn State officials
By Susan Candiotti
July 2, 2012

With convicted serial child sex abuser Jerry Sandusky behind bars, new questions are surfacing about what Penn State officials knew about a 2001 incident involving the former assistant football coach's encounter with a boy in the shower -- and whether they covered up the incident.

Sandusky sexually abused other boys in the years after the 2001 incident and before his arrest.

CNN does not have the purported e-mails. However, the alleged contents were read to CNN.

The messages indicate former Penn State President Graham Spanier and two other former university officials knew they had a problem with Sandusky after a 2001 shower incident, but apparently first decided to handle it using a "humane" approach before contacting outside authorities whose job it is to investigate suspected abuse.

"This is a more humane and upfront way to handle this,' Gary Schultz, who was a university vice president at the time, allegedly wrote.

Sandusky e-mails revealed Sandusky still eligible for pension Attorney: Sandusky disappointed in son Analysis: Jerry Sandusky verdict

Records show no authorities were ever contacted and Sandusky was eventually charged with having sexual contact with four more boys after the 2001 incident. On June 22, Sandusky was convicted of abusing 10 boys over 15 years.

Painful chapter closes with Sandusky's conviction

In an exchange of messages from February 26 to February 28, 2001, Spanier allegedly acknowledges Penn State could be "vulnerable" for not reporting the incident, according to two sources with knowledge of the case.

"The only downside for us is if the message (to Sandusky) isn't 'heard' and acted upon, and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it," Spanier purportedly writes.

The alleged e-mails among Spanier, Schultz, 62, and former Athletic Director Tim Curley, 57, never mention Sandusky by name, instead referring to him as "the subject" and "the person." Children that Sandusky brought on campus --some of whom might have been victims -- are referred to as "guests."

The purported exchanges began 16 days after graduate assistant Mike McQueary first told Head Coach Joe Paterno on February 9, 2001, that McQueary believed he saw Sandusky make sexual contact with a boy in a locker room shower...

Friday, June 29, 2012

Judge Judith Hayes passionately wants my blog to disappear

Photo: Judge Judith Hayes

Judge Judith Hayes:


Below is my petition for writ, filed yesterday in the California Court of Appeal regarding this case. The most amazing passages are quotes from my San Diego Superior Court judge, Judith F. Hayes. She really, really worries about the families of the lawyers at Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz. At the same time she clearly believes that it's wrong to mention the families harmed by these lawyers. What's her reasoning? She won't say, but her purpose is clearly to silence all criticism of public entity lawyers.



This Petition regards a May 30, 2012 minute order adding $5000 contempt sanctions to a March 10, 2010 OSC Contempt order, for which Appellant had already paid $3000 sanctions.

The original $3000 sanctions were based on the December 11, 2009 Permanent Injunction, which was ruled unconstitutional by the Court of Appeal on Aug. 5, 2011 and the April 6, 2009 Permanent Injunction, which is exceedingly vague and has been interpreted in an unconstitutional manner by the trial court.


Petitioner asks for a stay of all sanctions while this petition is being heard by the Court of Appeal in order to prevent further violation of Defendant’s Constitutional Rights. On August 5, 2011 the Court of Appeal (Exhibit 60) (I PA 1021-1042) overturned the “exceedingly broad” December 11, 2009 permanent injunction (Exhibit 48b) (I PA pages 2a-b) by the trial judge in this case.

Despite that Court of Appeal ruling, the trial court has continued to try to restrict Defendant’s speech in an unconstitutional manner. The trial court’s goal is exactly the same as it was before the Aug. 5, 2011 ruling: to prevent Defendant from mentioning Plaintiff’s name by any means or media, but the court is now relying on the April 6, 2009 injunction (Exhibit 48a) (I PA pages 1a-b), rather than the December 11, 2009 injunction, to achieve this goal.

The trial judge’s actions in this case, summed up in her statement, “SO I'M NOT GIVING YOU PERMISSION TO PUT ANYTHING ON” (Exhibit 90) (III PA 1511 line 19), are clearly unconstitutional.

The trial court stated on June 21, 2012 (Exhibit 90) (III PA 1509 lines 4-19):






At the same hearing the court stated that it would not say whether the statements “Daniel Shinoff trains school attorneys” and “Daniel Shinoff plans legal tactics against parents” are violations of thd injunction. Yet these statements angered the judge so much on October 30, 2009 (see Plaintiff’s first Motion to Strike Defendant’s Answer in Appendix for case D057190--Exhibits 38-46 III AA 480-796 case D057190), that she issued an order that Defendant could never, by any means or method, mention Plaintiff’s name (Exhibit 48b) (I PA pages 2a-b).

The following is from the court reporter’s transcript of the June 21, 2012 ex parte hearing requesting a stay of sanctions (Exhibit 90) (III PA 1504-1512).









(Exhibit 90) (III PA 1511 lines 2-19)

The trial judge said that the statement Daniel Shinoff trains school attorneys “may well be” defamatory. Apparently the judge is not sure, but she’s not giving Defendant permission to put anything (anything!) on her website. How can the judge not be sure? The statement “Daniel Shinoff trains school attorneys” has been discussed in this case for about three years.

If the judge doesn’t know whether it’s a violation of the April 6, 2009 injunction, how can Petitioner know?

Contrary to what the judge says, Petitioner does want to know, and has a right to know, what she is allowed to say. How could she possibly guess that “Daniel Shinoff trains school attorneys” could be a violation of the injunction?

The judge explained further on June 21, 2012:



(Exhibit 90) (III PA 1511 lines 20-25)

The April 6, 2009 injunction and its enforcement have deprived Defendant, and will deprive Defendant more severely in the future, of property without due process of law; the threat of jail has been used

The trial court clearly plans sanctions in the future to force Defendant to erase every mention of Plaintiff on her website. [Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz] has requested that [Maura Larkins] be sanctioned with severe financial penalties and five days in jail. The threat of jail would appear to be the reason that the court mentioned the case In re Liu in its OSC Contempt rulings...

In re Liu is a case in which a Defendant spent eleven days in jail pursuant to CCP 1218 before the Court of Appeal ordered him released, and ordered sanctions returned to him. Why would the court consider this case pertinent to Stutz v. Larkins? In re Liu would seem to be more supportive of [Maura Larkins'] position, since the Defendant was being jailed...[for non-compliance]with an order that he was unable to comply with. Since his children were in Formosa (Taiwan!), the Defendant in his jail cell had no power to return them to California.

Likewise, the Defendant in the instant case is unable to comply with an injunction when the judge refuses to clarify it. It has done Defendant no good in this case when she erased statement after statement, because no statement can pass muster. Defendant has finally given up trying to please Plaintiff and the court, and has followed her own conscience regarding fulfilling her agreement of April 6, 2009.

At the June 21, 2012 ex parte hearing there were two bailiffs standing next to Defendant’s table during most of her hearing.


For the trial court to add to the sanctions based on the March 10, 2010 OSC after the Court of Appeal has ruled the underlying injunction unconstitution is inexplicable.

As the injunction has been interpreted by Plaintiff and Judge Hayes, its purpose is NOT to ban certain words which would be defamatory if untrue (as Defendant was led to believe), but rather to ban Defendant from reporting public entity law firm Plaintiff’s actions. Defendant is banned by the court’s interpretation of the injunction from reporting any actions of Plaintiff, even actions self-reported by Plaintiff to the media, if plaintiff and the court claim that those actions are unethical or illegal (!!!!!!).


The court stated clearly during the OSC hearing on March 5, 2010 that the purpose of the $3000 sanction was to force defendant to remove all mention of Plaintiff from her website before the Court of Appeal could rule on the matter. It appears that this is also the purpose of the additional $5000 sanction based on that same OSC, except that now the trial court is circumventing a ruling of the Court of Appeal rather than preempting it.


Defendant is not able to comply with the court’s vague orders

Instead of allowing a jury trial for damages to which defendant is entitled in this case, Judge Judith Hayes has for over three years designed a series of ever-expanding permanent injunctions, each one more unconstitutional than the last. The judge’s stated purpose was to prevent defendant from having to pay damages. The actual purpose seems to be to shut down defendant’s website in violation of the First Amendment. The judge made it clear from the beginning that all she wanted was to shut down Defendant’s website, and she never wanted to impoverish Defendant. The judge seems sincerely reluctant to impoverish Defendant, but feels she must do so in order to achieve her over-arching purpose of silencing Defendant’s speech about public entity lawyers.



The goal of the sanctions is to force Defendant to erase every mention of Plaintiff on her websites, and never mention Plaintiff’s name again, by any means or method. The trial court has even refused to give permission to Defendant to call the police or other authorities to report a crime committed by Plaintiff, to complain to the Bar Association, or to seek legal counsel in this case. All these actions are banned by the injunction.

I do not have enough income to pay the sanctions ordered by the court, or to pay interest and principal on an additional credit card debt of that amount. Being forced to go into debt to pay the $5000, or being punished for not paying, would cause me irreparable harm. The previous $3000.00 in sanctions based on the same OSC is still owed by me to my credit union.

An extraordinary writ is necessary to prevent irreparable harm to petitioner and the public. A temporary stay followed by a determination of the constitutionality of the permanent injunction is urgently needed in this case.

Damage will occur to petitioner and the public without an immediate stay of all sanctions and a determination of the constitutionality of the three permanent injunctions. Petitioner is harmed by her loss of freedom of speech. Also, the time lost by petitioner during months of work erasing all mention of Plaintiff from her websites could never be regained and serves no purpose other than to harm petitioner and the public. The inability to mention Plaintiff or any of its attorneys would be extremely damaging to petitioner’s website, which focuses on public entities and their lawyers. The public’s loss of its access to information during this time would be a suspension of its constitutional rights and would be harmful to all who need this information at this time. Even a temporary disappearance of information about Plaintiff can cause the web address to fall in the ratings on Internet search engines, making it unavailable to those seeking information about Plaintiff. Finally, threatened financial damage and loss of freedom would be harmful to petitioner...


Dear Mr. Holtz, Mr. Shinoff, Mr. Artiano and other Stutz lawyers involved in this case:

I am pleased that you have expressed an interest in being ethical in your actions. I would like to bring to your attention that your Motion regarding the court's OSC re Contempt that was decided on March 10, 2012 did not mention any statement of mine that was a violation of the April 6, 2009 injunction. Both you and the court were relying on the December 11, 2009 injunction to justify a finding of contempt against me. Since the December 11, 2009 injunction was found to be unconstitutional on Aug. 5, 2011 by the Court of Appeal, the $3000 in sanctions ordered against me was also unconstitutional. I ask you, in the name of basic honesty as well as legal ethics, to return the $3000 to me.

I am not able to afford all the sanctions against me, particularly the recent $5000 sanction.

But if you return the $3000 to me, then I can pay you $3000 of the new sanction. This could be done on paper, with no actual cash transfer.

The new sanction is strange since it is based on the April 6, 2009 injunction, yet the judge has refused to clarify her interpretation of that injunction, and has not permitted me to respond to allegations.

Also, the judge has not stated whether she believes it is a violation of the injunction to publish public records, and she hasn't stated whether she believes that visitors to my blog are also restrained by the April 6, 2009 injunction.

Judge Hayes says she can not even decide whether I have violated the injunction by stating, "Daniel Shinoff trains education attorneys." Yet this was one of the statements that caused her to become so angry that she banned me from mentioning your names at all, even to call the police or other authorities, or to seek legal counsel.

Clearly, this case is in a state of confusion. I would hope that you would not try to profit by taking advantage of the court's confusion. I expect the outcome of this case to be determined by law, as I trust you do. You would not want to silence me by bankrupting me, would you? If I had lots of money, I'd be happy to hand over as much as Judith Hayes desired, but I am struggling financially. I could sell a vehicle to come up with cash. But I would like to request that I be allowed to pay off the remaining $2000 sanction at a monthly rate, with 10% interest.

Would that be amendable to you?

Maura Larkins

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Schools fail to document serious complaints, including child molestation in Carlsbad and teacher crimes in CVESD

Ten years ago I was amazed at the knee-jerk cover-up that occurred at my school, Castle Park Elementary in Chula Vista, regarding crimes committed by teachers. Ironically, my principal made a note of the fact that a district administrator didn't want reports written down. Of course, many things do get written down, and when that happens, the documents are often concealed.

The fact that Carlsbad schools claimed to have little or no record of complaints about Raymond Firth is not surprising. Vista Unified didn't appear to know much about David Irving Hatch, either. In fact, SDCOE-JPA enthusiastically supports concealment of what goes on in schools.

CARLSBAD: Parents of molested schoolgirls want policy changes
June 24, 2012

When a North County jury last week awarded $4.5 million to two young girls molested in the classroom by their Carlsbad elementary school teacher, the girls' mothers said they had wanted something more than money ---- they wanted policy changes.

The parents said they wanted Carlsbad Unified School District officials to monitor teachers better, document parental complaints better and notify parents when charges are filed accusing a teacher of criminal wrongdoing in the classroom.

"I really wanted the public to know how Carlsbad handled this and covered it up," said the mother of one of the victims. "It was never about the money for me."

...After Firth was sent to prison, the parents of the two victims ---- at least three girls have come forward ---- sued the district on behalf of their daughters. During the month-long trial, jurors heard testimony from parents who said that they had complained about catching Firth in potentially inappropriate interactions with young female students, including holding hands, placing them on their lap and being alone with them in the classroom.

According to David Ring, the Los Angeles-based attorney who represented the two girls during the civil trial, Firth said school officials had talked to him about such matters about eight separate times.

But the school had little to no substantial documentation of parental complaints, Ring said.

"We can't make them change the policy," Ring said, "but the public can."

Jurors found the school district was negligent in supervising Firth, and found it was 40 percent responsible for what happened to the children...

"The point of the lawsuit was policy change," the mother of the other victim said.

Whether or how such changes were made remains hazy. In an interview last week, school board President Kelli Moors declined to say whether the case prompted specific policy changes.

But Moors said that "every time any incident happens, we do use them as training opportunities. ... When incidents happen, we use that to reexamine things."

"I know that in the wake of this incident, all of our administrators have undergone thorough training," Moors said. "For some it was a refresher, for others it was new. We have been diligent about making sure that we learn from this and making sure administration learns from this."

In October 2007, a young girl disclosed that her teacher, Raymond Firth, had groped her. Police were notified and administrators pulled Firth from the classroom.

Parents were not told about the allegations, nor were they told when ---- after a year of investigation by police ---- prosecutors charged the teacher with lewd and lascivious acts with children...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tri-City boardmember George Coulter, accuser of Kathleen Sterling, turns out to have a background of moral turpitude

George Coulter
Also see San Diego Education Report articles on this story.·

George William Coulter - Elected Board Member, Tri-City Healthcare District - Criminal & Civil Record & Testimony
by Kathleen Sterling
June 22, 2012

Tri-City Boardmember (elected 2008-2012) Mr. George Coulter (Phony Ph.D.) - Convicted of Moral Turpitude ~ Theft / Larceny ~ Burglary ~ Domestic Violence ~ Unlawful Detainer Judgment ·

On May 31 and June 1, 2010 before the Honorable Judge Michael Kirkman, Department 22 held Preliminary Hearing for People of State of California vs Kathleen Sterling where discussion about Tri-City Healthcare District Board Member George Coulter took place before Deputy District Attorney Leon Schorr of the Public Integrity Unit under District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, and as my representative, Public Defender Sherry Stone, placed on the record what was discussed with Judge Kirkman in his chambers. ·

The following excerpts are taken from the Reporter's Transcript taken on May 31, 2011 and June 1, 2011, Preliminary Hearing Transcript "PE Transcript, pps. 2-6, lines 5, 9, 14, 15, 16 " ·

Ms. Stone: Your Honor, the prosecution is calling George Coulter. He's one of the percipient witnesses to count one [Penal Code 86 - Felony] as well as count two [Government Code 87100 - Misdemeanor]. . . . Mr. Coulter has a prior Misdemeanor Conviction for Penal Code 272 . . . . It's a crime of Moral Turpitude. ·

The Court: It was a Penal Code 272 matter, and then there was another matter, a Penal Code 484? ·

Ms. Stone: Yes, Penal Code 484 and Penal Code 459. ·

The Court: [The relevancy]". . . could be utilized for impeachment purposes of the witness... I understand that there is a subsequent matter that occured ... related to domestic violence that counsel wished to address? " ·

Ms. Stone: Yes, your Honor. How much detail would the Court like me to go into? ·

The Court: You'd indicated that there was a Domestic Violence related matter and that there was actually some contact, some physical violence; is that right? ·

Ms. Stone: That is correct. . .

[Continued HERE]

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Merger of huebler.info and huebler.blogspot.com

As announced in January, the huebler.info website was shut down in June 2012. As of 21 June, all requests for pages at huebler.info are redirected to huebler.blogspot.com.

huebler.info was mainly a mirror of articles posted on the International Education Statistics blog and nearly all content from the old huebler.info site is available at huebler.blogspot.com. Please use the blog search in the right sidebar, under "Search this site", or the blog archive to find content from the old site. The most popular pages from huebler.info, identified through access statistics collected between January and June 2012, are listed below with the corresponding huebler.blogspot.com URL.

Please replace any huebler.info links in your bookmarks and on your website by the corresponding huebler.blogspot.com links. If you are unable to find content from huebler.info with the blog search, blog archive or the list below, you can contact the author by email at fhuebler@gmail.com. I apologize for any inconvenience caused by the shutdown of the old site.

Education statistics Stata Related articles Friedrich Huebler, 21 June 2012, Creative Commons License
Permanent URL: http://huebler.blogspot.com/2012/06/blog.html

Karen Klein bus monitor video: should she give back the money?

Wait a minute. What about all the children who were bullied on that bus? I bet they'd like a vacation. They can't simply decide to quit riding the bus. How about $600,000 for an effective bus monitor who can educate bullies? Both the bullies and the bullied need counseling.

I wonder where these obnoxious youngsters learned contempt for people who are poor or fat? It seems that these cruel kids are voicing attitudes that are widespread among adults. Charlies M. Blow agrees with me:

Bullies on the Bus
New York Times
June 22, 2012

...Those boys are us, or at least too many of us: America at its ugliest. It is that part of society that sees the weak and vulnerable as worthy of derision and animus.

This kind of behavior is not isolated to children and school buses and suburban communities. It stretches to the upper reaches of society — our politics and our pulpits and our public squares.

Whether it is a Republican debate audience booing a gay soldier or Rush Limbaugh’s vicious attack on a female Georgetown law student or Newt Gingrich’s salvos at the poor, bullying has become boilerplate. Hiss and taunt. Tease and intimidate. Target your enemies and torture them mercilessly. Maintain primacy through predation.

Traditionally inferior identity roles are registered in a variety of ways. For Klein, she was elderly and female and not thin or rich. For others, it is skin color, country of origin, object of affection or some other accident of birth...

Click HERE for the original video of the bus incident.

Donations for bullied New York bus monitor surpass $600G
By Joshua Rhett Miller
June 23, 2012

Brutal bullying more common than you think?

An online feel-good fundraising effort for a bullied bus monitor has surpassed half a million dollars — and is growing.

As of early Saturday, more than $605,000 has been donated to Karen Klehn, a 68-year-old grandmother of eight who appeared on a 10-minute video earlier this week being berated and bullied by four seventh-graders on a bus operated by the Greece Central School District, near Rochester, N.Y. Klein has also been offered a trip to Disney Land with nine guests by Southwest Airlines, FoxNews.com has learned...

Karen Klein Should Give the Money Back
Chris Kelly
Huffington Post

Something's been bugging me about Karen Klein, the school bus monitor from Greece, New York, who was taunted by children in a video on YouTube, and now seems to have been given half a million dollars by nice strangers who feel bad:

What happened to her never should have happened.

Someone should have been monitoring the kids on that bus.

And clearly it wasn't Karen Klein.

I hope she gets the $500,000. I hope she gets more. I hope she goes to the Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom Park, Orlando, and has her picture taken with Woody and Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl.

But I can't shake the feeling that she should also take $15,506 and give it back to the people of Greece, New York, who paid her to monitor children on a school bus.

A job she -- while clearly a human being who didn't deserve to be treated like shit -- was also incapable of performing.

Again, not saying the children were right and she's wrong, or she was asking for it, or there's any excuse for making people cry just to see if you can. There's a special ring of hell for people who do that, and it's not Rochester, but you can see it from there.

They're bad and she's their victim.

But why was she there? What did she think her job was? What did the parents who put their children on the bus think?

Because, for $375 a week, to ride the bus twice, she doesn't appear to be preventing very much bullying.

Again: She's a nice lady, a grandmother apparently, and the things that were said to her were horrible, but that's okay, because she says her hearing aid doesn't work that well. Which circles us back to the question of what she saw as parameters of her assignment.

And what she, and the parents who hired her, consider "monitoring."

Here's how Mrs. Klein, a former school bus driver herself, described the ugly incident that never should have happened to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle:

"I was trying to just ignore them, hoping they would go away and it doesn't work."

No, it doesn't work. It also doesn't work when children are bullying other children. That's why we put monitors on the bus.

To protect the children.

Again. (And again, and again.) Karen Klein is a person, and no one should be cruel to her. A bad thing happened. She should have never been on that bus.

Karen Klein bus monitor abuse video: Youtube video of woman bullied by children goes viral
June 21, 2012
Faith Karimi

A profanity-laced video of middle school students in upstate New York verbally abusing a bus monitor is sparking an outpouring of support as strangers worldwide rally to her side.

In the video, the students taunt Karen Klein, 68, with a stream of profanity, insults, jeers and physical ridicule.

Some boys demand to know her address, saying they want to come to her house to perform sexual acts and steal from her.

The bullying continues unabated for about 10 minutes in the video, reducing Klein to tears as a giggling student jabs her arm with a book in one instance.

"Oh my God, you're so fat," one says.

Klein, a bus monitor for the Greece Central School District, said she tried her best to disregard the harassment. The students involved attend Greece Athena middle school. "I tried to ignore it ... I didn't hear some stuff and tried to shut them out," Klein told CNN affiliate WHAM.

She said one comment from a boy aboard the bus was especially painful. He tells her that she does not have family because "they all killed themselves because they didn't want to be near you."

Klein's oldest son took his own life 10 years ago, according to the affiliate.

...The video prompted an outpouring of support and a fundraiser by an international crowd funding site that had gathered more than $100,000 by early Thursday.

"Let's give Karen a vacation of a lifetime. Let's show her the power of the internets and how kind and generous people can be," the fundraiser's organizer said on the website. The organizer did not respond to CNN requests for comment on the website. The school district said its bullying team and the local police are conducting an investigation.

"We have discovered other similar videos on YouTube and are working to identify all of the students involved," the school district said in a statement.

It did not elaborate on whether the additional videos are related to Klein's case.

"While we cannot comment on specific student discipline, we can say that students found to be involved will face strong disciplinary action," the school district said.

The students involved are minors, according to the school district. CNN does not name minors involved in alleged crimes unless they are charged as adults.

Officials involved in the investigation will hold a news conference Thursday.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Prosecutors want unaired footage in which Jerry Sandusky seems to admit abusing some boys, while saying he didn't abuse others

Prosecutors want unaired footage
FOX News
JUN 18, 2012

Accused Penn State pedophile Jerry Sandusky came off a lot creepier in an exclusive sit-down with NBC last November than anyone knew, but the Peacock Network oddly chose not to air what sounds a lot like an admission of guilt — and now prosecutors want the whole transcript.

"I didn't go around seeking out every young person for sexual needs that I've helped," Sandusky told Costas in footage that never made the November airing.

The disturbing answer first came to light when NBC's "Today" show aired previously unseen transcripts last Tuesday. That prompted prosecutors from the Pennsylvania attorney general's office to contact NBC lawyers on Friday to request that the network turn over and authenticate the entire transcript from the interview that was used to tape the segment that aired on the news program "Rock Center with Brian Williams."

The unaired segment includes a back-and-forth between Costas and Sandusky about his work with young people through his charity for troubled kids, the Second Mile.

"I'm a very passionate person in terms of trying to make a difference in the lives of some young people," Sandusky said. "I worked very hard to try to connect with them. To make them feel good about themselves. To be something significant in their lives. Maybe this gets misinterpreted, has gotten depending on ... I know a lot of young people where it hasn't. I have worked with many, many young people where there has been no misinterpretation of my actions and I have made a very significant difference in their lives."

Costas then challenged Joe Paterno's one-time defensive coordinator, saying, "But isn't what you're just describing the classic MO of many pedophiles? And that is that they gain the trust of young people, they don't necessarily abuse every young person. There were hundreds, if not thousands, of young boys you came into contact with, but there are allegations that at least eight of them were victimized.

"So it's entirely possible that you could've helped young boy A in some way that was not objectionable while horribly taking advantage of young boy B, C, D and E. Isn't that possible?" Costas asked Sandusky during the interview.

Sandusky gave an unusual reply.

"Well — you might think that. I don't know. In terms of — my relationship with so many, many young people. I would — I would guess that there are many young people who would come forward. Many more young people who would come forward and say that my methods and — and what I had done for them made a very positive impact on their life.

"And I didn't go around seeking out every young person for sexual needs that I've helped. There are many that I didn't have — I hardly had any contact with who I have helped in many, many ways," he added.

An executive at NBC News, who asked that her identity be withheld, told FOXNews.com, "There were a lot of compelling comments in the original interview, but we did not have time to include them all."

Thursday, June 14, 2012

La Mesa-Mount Helix Patch investigates Rani Goyal resignation, $56,000 severance deal

The La Mesa-Mount Helix Patch investigation of the Rani Goyal resignation can be found at the bottom of this post. The whole brouhaha got me to thinking about a previous Helix High principal who unfairly came under attack. Here is that story:

East County Magazine
February 6, 2009

Did administrators at Helix Charter High School respond appropriately to four incidents of sexual abuse and misconduct involving teachers and students and has enough been done to prevent similar problems in the future? The Helix response criticizes ESI's investigator Robert Price as unqualified and lacking impartiality. A prior ESI investigation was used to revoke the charter of another charter school, the response notes.

According to Helix, Price received over 80 names of former Helix employees provided by the district. Amazingly, when the investigation into 80 separated employees from Helix did not produce the results sought by Mr. Price, the Helix response said, Mr. Price thereafter ground its conclusions in the comments of a small unspecified (and unknown) group of separated Helix employees not reported by the district. The report adds, "Clearly Mr. Price has discounted and omitted any positive comments about the Principal or Helix from his Report despite receiving many such statements." Multiple witnesses contracted by Price called Smith and complained that questions asked appeared to be aimed at finding fault; 2 witnesses told the Helix principal that "The investigator was clearly out to get you", the Helix response states.

The ESI report also fails to list corrective actions taken by Helix after the first incident, including meetings at which staff was encouraged to be vigilant in reporting possible educator sexual abuse/misconduct and told that the school would investigate any such reports and terminate employees for such conduct. Other steps included involvement of social workers, counselors, contacts to parents and more. Why is all of this material information absent from Mr. Price's report? The Helix document asks.

As for allegations that state reporting requirements were not met, Helix maintains that police were notified the same day that the Principal was made aware of the first reported case of sexual abuse/misconduct. The school's response did not encourage future sexual misconduct, Helix argues, because the other case in question was an incident that occurred earlier, but was not brought to the school's attention until after the first incident and the teacher was no longer employed at Helix. The school's reporting of two other incidents was not in question in the District report. Shinoff stood behind the report. "I don't think that is accurate at all", he said when asked about allegations by Helix of bias and omission of facts favorable to Smith. "Quite frankly, Helix from the very inception of the investigation took exception to our investigator talking to their staff." He added, "Absolutely he was never told by us or by the Superintendent or by anybody to come to any specific conclusion. I did not conduct the investigation; these are his findings...I feel quite confident that he was doing his very best for it to be a fair and balanced investigation."

See all Helix Charter High School posts.

Helix Leader Rani Goyal Got $56,000 Severance in Settlement Deal
“General release of all claims,” which included a gag order, leaves reasons for resignation unclear.
By Ken Stone
La Mesa-Mount Helix Patch
June 14, 2012

Rani Goyal was promised a $56,000 severance check from Helix Charter High School when she suddenly resigned May 25 under still mysterious circumstances.

As executive director of the La Mesa school, she was almost two years into a four-year contract paying $130,000 a year plus expenses, according to documents obtained by Patch.

A 1,500-word settlement agreement signed by Goyal and Helix charter board chairman Brian Kick stipulated that “Goyal intends and expressly agrees that [the setlement] shall be effective as a bar to each and every claim, demand and cause of action Goyal has against [Helix].” See attached PDF.

But neither Goyal nor Helix officials have commented on what possible legal actions preceded the agreement, and the deal includes a “No admission of fault” clause for both parties.

The settlement also includes a gag order, saying Helix and Goyal “agree that the events leading to this agreement shall be maintained in privacy and confidence.”

The agreement itself was made available to Patch in response to a California Public Records Act request, and in a separate letter, Kick said the school “is not required to produce documents protected by the attorney client privilege. … To the extent your request includes the above information, or any other information exempted by the Public Records Act, Helix Charter High School denies your request.”

...Goyal signed the three-page agreement May 23, and Kick on May 25. It is described as a “complete, final and binding settlement of all claims and potential claims, if any.”

She quit less than two weeks before graduation.

On May 31, Goyal was to receive full pay for that month, and within 10 days was to be paid “a gross severance amount equivalent to five months of salary in the amount of $56,418.60,” the deal said.

Her original employment contract (attached as a PDF) had a clause on early termination that said:

The board may unilaterally and without cause or advance notice terminate this agreement. In consideration of the board’s right to terminate this agreement without cause, the board shall pay to the executive director the remainder of her salary (based upon any remaining calendared work days) for the term of this agreement or for a period of four months following the effective date of termination, whichever is less.

...At least one theory on her resignation was posted on a San Diego education blog.

On June 1, an anonymous commenter wrote:

Politically powerful teachers doesn’t even begin to describe the Good ol' Boys club of Helix. There’s a specific group of teachers who enjoyed the power and privilege of being the former principal’s cronies and fail to adapt to change. They are blinded by their own hurt egos to see that Ms. Goyal was the best thing that happened to Helix in a long time. The staff at Helix has gone and ignored the students and the parents, and showed that the charter board will forget democracy in order to please the Good ol’ Boys.

The commenter concluded: “I’ll always be a fan of Helix, having been a student there through recent tough times. But I sincerely hope that the teachers that I love and respect pull their act together in the interest of the students.”

The settlement also stipulated that “both HCHS and Goyal agree that they will do nothing to disparage the other in any communications after the date of this agreement.”

It's not our fault, say Carlsbad Schools and Allen Stanford in separate cases

Jurors Award Molestation Victims $4.5M
Molester Responsible For 60%, School District 40% Of Award
Channel 10 News
June 19, 2012

San Diego County jurors have awarded two girls $4.5 million because they were molested by their Carlsbad elementary school teacher. The North County Times says jurors also ruled unanimously Monday that the Carlsbad Unified School District was negligent for failing to supervise the teacher...

In his 2010 criminal trial, 41-year-old Raymond Firth pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual battery and one of false imprisonment. He spent 22 months in prison and was released in March. He did not attend the civil trial. He will be responsible for 60 percent of the award, the school district for 40 percent.

An attorney for the district says he doesn't know if they will appeal.

Nobody seems to be watching as predators cavort in our schools and in our financial system.

Let's start with our schools. Even if schools wanted to lay off the bad teachers and keep the good teachers, they couldn't do it. Principals rarely observe teachers. Principals tend to form political alliances with the teachers who control the most powerful cliques. Given the worthless evaluation system in place now, laying off by seniority makes just as much sense as having principals choose who gets laid off. We need observations of teachers--done by professional evaluators.

Then there's our financial system. The SEC wasn't even enforcing the rules that were already on the books when Bernie Madoff stole his fortune. We need more regulation, but what good will it do unless we have good watchdogs?

This morning we have stories of two defendants, Carlsbad Unified School District and Ponzi artist Allen Stanford, who both say it wasn't their fault that innocent victims were harmed.

It's not the school's fault, says Dan Shinoff. "So why is the school district here? The school district is here because it has deep pockets. This is about money," says school attorney [Dan] Shinoff. But I notice there is an ad for a local Lutheran school next to the story. Obviously, some people are drawing the conclusion that the school wasn't as vigilant as it should have been.

Closing Arguments Begin In Case Against School District
June 13, 2012
Channel 10 News

Closing statements began Wednesday in a civil lawsuit against the Carlsbad Unified School District over a former teacher sent to prison for sexually abusing two students.

The parents of two girls are suing the district for an undisclosed amount in connection with the 2010 sexual battery conviction of 39-year-old Raymond Firth, a former teacher at Pacific Rim Elementary School. The parents say the district failed to protect their children from Firth, who was a teacher at the school for seven years.

Firth pleaded guilty in 2010 to molesting three little female students he was entrusted to teach. The 41-year-old was sentenced to 3-and-a-half years in prison but was released in March after serving just 22 months.

In court Wednesday, Firth was called a "monster" and a "master manipulator." The victims' attorney, David Ring, told jurors how the sexual abuse has devastated their lives.

"She has post-traumatic stress disorder from the molestation," Ring said of one of the girls.

Ring stressed how the psychological effects will haunt the girls, now teens, forever. "This is their one chance to come to court so the verdict you render is not just for now it's for the rest of their lives," Ring told the court.

Dan Shinoff, who represents the school district, reminded jurors it was Firth who sexually abused his students and the district should not be held liable for the ex-teacher's deviant behavior.

Shinoff said, "He is an animal, the worst of animals."

Shinoff also questioned why the victims' parents weren't going after the former teacher for compensatory damages.

"So why is the school district here? The school district is here because it has deep pockets. This is about money," said Shinoff.

Firth did have to testify, but he did so by video.

Closing arguments resume Thursday.

And who does Stanford blame for the damage to innocent victims? The prosecutors who charged him!

Stanford blames U.S. for destroying his business
U.S. urges 230 years prison for Allen Stanford
Jun 14, 2012

Allen Stanford, facing sentencing for running a $7 billion Ponzi scheme, on Thursday blamed the U.S. government for ruining his business and said he never intended to defraud anyone.

"They destroyed it and turned it to nothing," Stanford said in federal court in Houston, where he was found fuilty last March of fraud and conspiracy. "Stanford was a real brick-and-mortar global financial empire."

Stanford spoke haltingly and appeared to struggle to control emotion at the sentencing hearing. Prosecutors have asked for a sentence of 230 years, arguing in court papers that Stanford's crime was "one of the most egregious frauds in history." His attorneys have asked for a sentence of about 3 years, or the same amount of time Stanford has been in federal custody.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Politics makes strange bedfellows: Scott Peters is sharing the office of Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz

Click on image to enlarge.

The other day I happened across the information that former San Diego City Councilman and current candidate for Brian Bilbray's seat in Congress (50th District) has an office in the upstairs suite of Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz in Liberty Station.

I'm trying to figure out how Scott Peters got together with Stutz law firm. Is it possible that there were no offices available among more moderate law firms? Or is Peters a personal friend of someone in the office?

Stutz has proudly presented itself as a "conservative" firm since the days it was Stutz Gallagher Artiano Shinoff & Holtz--an era which ended abruptly in 2004 when Robert Gallagher decided he'd rather work for Higgs, Fletcher and Mack than stay in the firm he founded.

In 1997 Mr. Shinoff proclaimed his political leanings in a letter (see image) offering legal services to Grossmont Unified High School District. Bizarrely, even Grossmont board member Priscilla Schreiber, the noted homophobe, managed to find herself on the outside when board member Ron Nehring (yes, that Ron Nehring), and then Superintendent Terry Ryan, took the district to the farthest reaches of right-wing politics. Board member Schreiber actually hired her own lawyers, Currier and Hudson, while Ryan was represented by Stutz law firm.

I know Scott Peters is not the most progressive Democrat, but I don't see him as the Ron Nehring/Terry Ryan type. So how did Dan Shinoff and Scott Peters manage to become office mates?

Judge Hayes has sanctioned me for mentioning the Vista Unified v. Dr. B. J. Freeman case on my website

Judge Judith Hayes, San Diego Superior Court

See all posts re Dr. B.J. Freeman.
See all posts re Stutz v. Larkins.

Is a judge allowed to order a citizen to agree with the actions of public entities and their lawyers? Am I allowed to say that I think a lawyer made a mistake, or that I disagree that a public entity should behave a certain way? Of course I am, but Judge Judith Hayes is trying to convince me otherwise. She tells me I don't understand constitutional law. Judge Hayes' May 30, 2012 decision in Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz v. Larkins states (page 2, paragraph 6), “…[Stutz] sought to remove a statement made by defendant that plaintiff paid witnesses to testify as plaintiff’s clients desired.”

This is a false statement by the court. Not only did I never make such a statement, but Plaintiff never even accused me of making such a statement.

The words have been changed by the judge to create a different meaning. Paying a witness to testify a certain way is different from suing an expert whom one has paid to do an evaluation.

The case at issue is the lawsuit against Dr. B. J. Freeman by Vista Unified School District for failing to testify as the district wished in a special education hearing. Dr. B. J. Freeman was sued for violating her contract. She objected that she wasn’t paid to testify a certain way; she was paid to evaluate students. At first Stutz argued that she was also obliged to testify as the school wished, but then Stutz realized that this was not true, and the lawsuit against Dr. Freeman was dropped. Stutz implicitly admitted that she hadn't been paid to testify a certain way.

Dr. Freeman's contract did NOT include a requirement that she testify as the district wished, at least not if she believed such testimony to be false, and I never said that it did.

But Judge Hayes' May 30, 2012 decision becomes more blatantly inaccurate in paragraph 7 of page 2: “Defendant continues the same here, stating that plaintiff has pressured witnesses to perjure themselves (See Plaintiff’s Ex. C, p. 5)

In fact, Plaintiff’s Exhibit C, p. 5 says, “Attorneys who have helped schools avoid revealing events in schools are in charge of training both new board members and school attorneys. Dan Shinoff trains board members and employees as well as attorneys.”

Keeping events secret and pressuring witnesses to perjure themselves are completely different things. The court’s reference to Ex. C, p. 5 was made without regard to the truth.

Judge Hayes' recent decision denies my constitutional right to due process and fair and equal treatment under the law.

Judge Hayes should have ordered Stutz law firm to return the $3000 March 10, 2010 sanction that was based on an injunction that was ruled unconstitutional by the Court of Appeal.

See California Court of Appeal Aug. 5, 2011 decision in Maura Larkins' favor). Instead, the judge now gives a new $5000 sanction based on that very same March 10, 2010 decision. And what is the purpose of the $8000 in sanctions? It seems to be to impoverish me so that I will not be able to proceed in court to obtain a minimal standard of justice.

Also, Judge Hayes claims that I currently have third-party comments on my site that have been removed. I produced print-outs that showed the comments had been removed; still, the court claims these comments are currently on my site and uses the comments to justify sanctions. Also, the sanctions are justified by my having certain public records on my site.

Here are more details from the Freeman case:

I am not expressing any opinion about the ethics or legality of the actions of Vista Unified's lawyers in this case. I'm just reporting what the case was about.

Dr. B. J. Freeman's defense against VUSD's breach of contract lawsuit was that there was nothing in her contract that required her to make statements under oath that she believed to be untrue.

Attorney's Daniel Shinoff and Gil Abed's described Dr. Freeman's position in their Opposition to Demurrer, p. 4, lines 21-28:

"...Defendant [Dr. B.J. Freeman] urges the court to make the District plead ‘specific language which purportedly bound Dr. Freeman to offer testimony that she believed was not accurate, i.e., that she had contracted to give testimony in support of a plan developed by plaintiff which was inconsistent with her recommendations and which was changed without her input.'

"...This curious passage is pregnant with Defendant’s factual opposition to the Complaint—that the plan was changed without her knowledge or input, and that the District asked her to perjury herself. The Court simply must ignore these allegations which belong in an Answer."

Page 5, lines 6-11:

“The DISTRICT has alleged that ‘one week before a hearing was to begin, after the DISTRICT had expended substantial resources and payments preparing for the Due Process Hearing, FREEMAN, without justification, cause, or reason, indicated that she would not…testify on behalf of the DISTRICT…

"This was, at the very least, an anticipatory breach. The DISTRICT’s settlement with the student may be relevant as to damages, however, that is a factual issue not properly raised on Demurrer.”

Apparently the district considered, but did not follow, the doctor’s recommendation for placement, but the District nevertheless felt that the doctor would still be required to testify under oath that the District’s decision was in line with her evaluation of the child.

Page 5 lines 22-26

"Defendant promised to…support the DISTRICT if students contested the DISTRICT’S placement where the placement was based on [emphasis added] Defendant’s assessment of the program and recommendation for placement…"

Here's another judge who likes to keep public records secret, and to flagrantly favor one side over the other in litigation.

The courts: Judge tried to keep evidence secretBy David Heath Seattle Times June 14, 2012 Judge Sharon Armstrong ordered InfoSpace records sealed when a shareholder, arguing that executives had deceived investors, sued the company. Then she sealed her order that put the case on hold.

For more than two years, reams of documents showing that InfoSpace executives deceived stockholders were sealed in a shareholder lawsuit at the King County courthouse.

The records contained evidence that some InfoSpace executives used accounting tricks to create the illusion of success — information that the company's faithful investors would certainly want to know.

But King County Superior Court Judge Sharon Armstrong allowed InfoSpace lawyers to stamp as confidential hundreds of documents in the case.

If the documents got out, they might fall into the hands of stockholders who were suing InfoSpace executives for deception and self-enrichment in a class-action lawsuit being heard a few blocks away in federal court, she reasoned.

"I've never heard of a judge doing that," said Steve Berman, a lawyer in the federal lawsuit who has read Armstrong's ruling. "It seems to me a very strange logic. Her role is not to be taking the side of the company."

Armstrong also said she was concerned that if the shareholder lawsuit went forward, InfoSpace might have to admit to financial misdeeds by insiders that could cause the company to report a $1 billion loss, which "would destroy the company."

"She was acting on behalf of the company and not on behalf of the public," said Judith Endejan, an attorney who argued the case for The Seattle Times.

Armstrong recently told The Seattle Times by e-mail: "The decisions made in the InfoSpace case, like decisions made in all cases, were based on the law and the factual record presented to the court."

InfoSpace, once the region's biggest dot-com, provides Internet services such as search engines. At the height of the Internet stock mania, the company was worth $31 billion.

In early 2003, The Seattle Times asked Armstrong to unseal InfoSpace records filed in the shareholder lawsuit, citing the state's constitution and past court cases. After she refused, The Times appealed her decision to the Washington Supreme Court.

In a 9-0 decision last year, the justices reversed Armstrong's decisions that allowed wholesale sealing of the court records.

"Proceedings cloaked in secrecy foster mistrust and, potentially, misuse of power," Justice Tom Chambers wrote in the opinion. In the landmark decision, the justices ruled that court records in civil lawsuits are open unless there are compelling reasons for closing them.

Armstrong had ruled that many of the records were protected by attorney-client privilege and should be sealed. But the Washington Supreme Court said the privilege was lost once such documents were filed in court and used by her to make a decision.

[Maura Larkins comment: Who was Judge Armstrong protecting? Naveen Jain! His company Intelius was taking $19 a month out of my checking account as part of a widespread fraud. I believe a class action suit is pending on the Intelius fraud.]

The King County case, known as Dreiling v. Jain, was brought by shareholder Thomas Dreiling, a Seattle lawyer. His lawyers sued InfoSpace founder Naveen Jain and others, accusing them of deceiving shareholders and illegally selling stock based on insider information.

The suit was a "shareholder derivative action." In such cases, a shareholder can ask the company to pursue alleged misconduct against the wrongdoers, with any money recovered going to the company. Usually, the company creates a special committee that investigates the claims and decides whether to pursue the action. InfoSpace's committee investigated and sent a report to Judge Armstrong, asking her to dismiss the case. Instead, she put it on hold and sealed her order.

"There are very narrow circumstances under which a judge can seal her own orders," such as matters of national security or protecting trade secrets, said Floyd Abrams, a First amendment lawyer in New York.

[Maura Larkins comment: Not surprisingly, the company's lawyer has lovely things to say about Judge Armstrong. See next.]

But Steve Sirianni, plaintiff's lawyer in the case, defended Armstrong. "I know of no lawyer appearing before Judge Armstrong in this case who has anything but the utmost respect for her rulings, fairness and impartiality," he said last week in an email to the judge, who had her bailiff send it to The Times.

The federal class-action suit was settled last year for $34.3 million.

In December, Jain and more than a dozen key InfoSpace officials settled the Dreiling lawsuit, with Jain agreeing to pay $3 million. Others are paying $3.4 million. InfoSpace's insurance, covering executive misdeeds, is paying up to $43 million to settle outstanding lawsuits.

As part of the settlement, Dreiling, Jain and the former InfoSpace executives signed confidentiality agreements and will not comment.

UCSD Professor Published After Two-Year Court Battle

I do not understand why UCSD felt it had the right to gag this professor. Was it motivated by politics? Did the administration calculate that the professor wouldn't be able to challenge the decision? How many people has this happened to? Were there others who didn't have the determination to go to court? As the professor said, "If you have to bankrupt yourself to protect your academic freedom, then academic freedom is dead.”

Professor Published After Two-Year Court Battle
Ayan Kusari
The Guardian
June 03, 2012

It’s been a long wait for sociology professor Richard Biernacki. After fighting in court for two years — and taking out a second mortgage to fund the attorney fees — Biernacki’s formerly banned manuscript has finally been published. The work, titled Reinventing Evidence in Social Inquiry, was released for sale by Paul Grave Macmillan publishes next month on July 3.

It has been almost three years since the UCSD Social Sciences department placed a gag order on Biernacki’s manuscript, which is about peer review in the social sciences. The order, written by Dean of Social Sciences Jeff Elman, asked Biernacki to stop “harassing” a colleague within the UCSD Sociology Department whose research methods Biernacki critiqued in his book.

The gag order also stated that Biernacki could be fired if he requested data from the National Science Foundation. In response, Biernacki hired an attorney and took the case to court. After two years of conflict, both in and out of court, the administration retracted its order last June.

Biernacki said that the university administration’s misinterpretation of his work as a personal attack on another faculty member was both a personal and professional setback.

“My salary was kept artificially low, because I wasn’t promoted,” he said. “The recognition that I would have received in my field two years ago did not come my way. I had to pay a steep attorney’s fee to fight the UC legal team in Oakland. Being on a level playing field is costly. If you have to bankrupt yourself to protect your academic freedom, then academic freedom is dead.”

Biernacki’s book states that peer review is frequently less thorough in the social sciences than in the natural sciences. Biernacki argues that this lack of peer review in his field has led to the widespread generation of data that is ambiguously valid and non-replicable. He said that his book was intended to be a methodological critique, not a personal attack.

“All the examples in the book are about problems that come along with trying to interpret the meaning of primary texts,” he said.

One of the book’s chapters appraises the reasoning used by sociologists to classify the statements made in the autobiographies of Nazis. Another chapter critiques sociologists’ attempts to classify book reviews as positive or negative.

“I can see why people feel uncomfortable, because I’m critiquing methods that are so widely used,” he said. “But I’m not exempt. I’m critiquing my own use of these methods as well, because I have used them myself. I think social scientists treat each other with kid gloves, because we’re so unsure of what we’re doing.”

Biernacki said that a written order from the administration was the wrong avenue to use in handling his case.

“If someone had a complaint about my critique, it’s the academic senate they should have gone through,” he said. “We have a faculty-run legal court on campus. We don’t need the administration to get involved.”

Diane Hamann, Director of the UCSD Academic Senate, could not be reached as of press time. Social Sciences Dean Jeff Elman is on sabbatical and could not be reached.

This story is an updated version that had been adjusted to address corrections.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

George Zimmerman’s wife charged with perjury

George Zimmerman’s wife charged with perjury
The Associated Press
June 12, 2012

The wife of Trayvon Martin’s shooter was charged with perjury Tuesday, accused of lying when she told a judge that the couple had limited funds during a hearing that resulted in her husband being released on $150,000 bond.

Shellie Zimmerman, 25, was released on $1,000 bond. George Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the teen’s slaying and had been out on the bond after the April 20 hearing. However, Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester on June 1 revoked the bond and ordered Zimmerman returned to the Seminole County Jail. Lester in a strongly worded ruling said the Zimmermans lied about how much money they had.

George Zimmerman’s attorney Mark O’Mara has said the couple was confused and fearful when they misled court officials about how much money they had. A call and email to him on Tuesday weren’t immediately returned.

Records show Shellie Zimmerman in the days before the hearing transferred $74,000 in eight smaller amounts ranging from $7,500 to $9,990, from her husband’s credit union account to hers, according to an arrest affidavit. It also shows that $47,000 was transferred from George Zimmerman’s account to his sister’s in the days before the bond hearing.

Four days after he was released on bond, Shellie Zimmerman transferred more than $85,500 from her account into her husband’s account, the affidavit said. The affidavit also said that jail call records show that George Zimmerman instructed her to "pay off all the bills," including an American Express and Sam’s Club card.

A state attorney investigator met with credit union officials and learned that she had transfer control of her husband’s account.

Jeffrey Neiman, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice, said cash transactions in excess of $10,000 usually trigger a reporting requirement by the bank to multiple government agencies — including the IRS.

"If Mrs. Zimmerman intentionally structured the financial transactions in a manner to keep the offense under $10,000, not only may she have committed perjury in the state case, but she also may have run afoul of several federal statutes and could face serious federal criminal charges," Neiman wrote in an email to The Associated Press.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Bandwagon fads in teaching

Bandwagon fads in teaching
Washington Post
June 9, 2012

Personal opinion by Joan Reinthaler, Washington:

Educational theories go in and out of style with some regularity. Open classrooms were all the rage for a time, and some years later schools found themselves repartitioning those noisy spaces.

Diane Ravitch, a respected educational policy advocate, reversed her own thinking about the No Child Left Behind law. We’ve been through the wars of phonics vs. whole word in teaching reading and constructivism vs. direct instruction in teaching math.

I read about Fairfax County’s effort to fire teacher Violet Nichols [“Determining if teachers make the grade,” front page, June 4] for not jumping on a particular bandwagon, while that same day’s Education page in the Metro section [“The flip side of classroom learning”] featured a teacher who has decided to “flip” her calculus class (a current vogue in which students learn lessons at home and do homework in class) — the impression being that if everyone did this, they might teach better.

I have no idea whether Ms. Nichols is a good teacher or not, and I assume that flipping is working for the Bullis School, covered in the Metro story. But for an administrator or a school system (or the press) to judge a teacher on whether she latches onto some favored bandwagon is to ignore the most important aspects of effective teaching: the individual and her art. Using such a sledgehammer approach may make judgments easier to defend, but it is inimical to good education.