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Poway USD guilty of ‘Viewpoint-based restriction’

Viewpoint-based restriction’

Hearing today before federal appeals court in case of teacher ordered to take down classroom banners

News from the Thomas More Law Center

Thomas More Law Center senior trial counsel Robert Muise will defend the right of public high school teacher Brad Johnson to display patriotic banners in his classroom before a panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today at 9 a.m. in Pasadena.

The Poway Unified School District ordered Johnson to take down his banners that contained historical slogans such as “In God We Trust, ” “One Nation under God, ” as well as the preamble to the Constitution, because “they may offend a Muslim student.”

Johnson had been displaying the banners for 25 years. He was ordered to remove them in 2007.

Because of the national significance of this case, C-SPAN will be videotaping the oral arguments, which will be broadcast at a later date.

The school district allowed religious classroom displays by other teachers, including displays of a 35- to 40-foot string of Tibetan prayer flags with images of Buddha; a poster with the lyrics from John Lennon’s anti-religion song “Imagine;” a poster with Hindu leader Mahatma Gandhi’s “7 Social Sins;” a poster of Muslim leader Malcolm X; and a poster of Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama.

TMLC filed a federal lawsuit in 2007 against the Poway Unified School District, alleging that the school district violated Johnson’s constitutional rights by imposing a viewpoint-based restriction on his speech.

In February 2010, U.S. District Court Judge Roger T. Benitez ruled in favor of Johnson in a 32-page, strongly worded opinion critical of the Poway school district's aversion to mentioning God.

“[The school district officials] apparently fear their students are incapable of dealing with diverse viewpoints that include God’s place in American history and culture… That God places prominently in our Nation’s history does not create an Establishment Clause violation requiring curettage and disinfectant for Johnson’s public high school classroom walls,” wrote Judge Benitez. “It is a matter of historical fact that our institutions and government actors have in past and present times given place to a supreme God.”

Shortly after his ruling, however, the school district board voted to appeal Judge Benitez's ruling at a closed-session meeting.

Go there

Monterey Ridge in the news!

 Inspiring the digital natives with Activexpression

February 2nd, 2009 Posted in Assessment and Learning, Expression, Liam O'Marah, Your Stories

To coincide with the Activexpression feature currently on Planet, I took time out to catch up with an Activexpression enthusiast, Lynne Harvey, a fourth grade teacher from Monterey Ridge Elementary School in San Diegeo, California.

Lynne’s blog article is a true testament to her desire to involve all her pupils in her lessons, all of the time, and to positively embrace new technology, whilst inspiring others.

Here’s Lynne’s story:

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” ~ Authur C. Clarke

I recognized the “magic” the first time I saw an Activboard and an Activexpression Learner Response System in action, and I didn’t need a sales pitch to convince me I wanted, and needed, to add them to my instructional tool bag. Watching a demonstration of the equipment at a technology expo in my school district about two years ago, I immediately realized their combined capabilities were nothing short of, as Arthur Clarke describes, ‘magic.’

Of course, acquiring this new magic wasn’t easy. Activboards were just hitting the market in California and my district had only a handful that were installed and being used in classrooms, and they were mostly at the secondary level. With the help of a grant I was able to convince my district’s IT department that my elementary school site needed to pilot this new ‘advanced technology.’ The response systems, then Activotes, were put on the back burner.

Waiting on the Learner Response Systems was the right decision because a short four months later, Activexpression was released. It took some doing, but I was able to find the funding, and was one of the first of two teachers, out of over 1,000 in my district, to get them in to my students’ hands. Teaching and learning in my classroom and across the school has not been the same since!

The dictionary defines Promethean as: daringly original; boldly inventive or creative, inspiring. If you have used any of the Promethean products, you will probably agree - I know I do. The Activboard alone changed my entire approach to instruction. The mundane became exciting and the typical lesson was transformed into a mesmerizing tool for learning. The magical Activexpressions added yet another flare that helped engage and inspire the teaching and learning of my ‘digital natives’ - as today’s students are often referred to.

The generation of students we are all now working with are growing up knowing nothing but the fast paced, constantly changing information age and need an engaging curriculum to develop their skills and knowledge base while motivating and retaining their attention and interest. The Activboard and Activexpressions provide well designed tools to accomplish this, and more

First and foremost, using Activexpressions to respond to questions or exercises gives every child a voice. There is no longer the question of only calling on the select few that have their hand in the air; or having shy students sitting back and not participating; or unmotivated students letting others around them do the work. Every student responds and wants to be engaged and involved!

Since the units look like a cross between a calculator and a cell phone they attract students’ attention and curiosity immediately. From the first day of this school year when my students saw the Activexpressions they wanted to use them for everything. After one or two exposures to what the various buttons did the students caught on very quickly to the how to’s of operating them and have become very adept at using the devices.

“Are we using the Activexpressions today?” is how I am greeted practically every morning. The students don’t care if it is an exercise, quiz, test, opinion gatherer, or discussion generator, so long as the Activexpressions are included at some point during the day.

Having five different modes for students to respond allows for a wide variety of uses and more open-ended questioning. Some of the ways I’ve utilized the Activexpressions are:

  • Beginning a unit of study to see what background knowledge the students have. This can be done with a range of agree-to-disagree on a Likert Scale, or a series of True / False questions about the topic.
  • Gathering opinions about a topic before it is studied, then returning at the end of the unit to see if opinions have changed after instruction and in-depth discussion has been valuable to both the students and myself.
    Checking for understanding as we are moving through a unit. Asking several objective questions about the main concepts with the True / False or Multiple Choice options.
  • True / False and/or Multiple Choice modes can naturally be used at the end of a lesson or unit to measure the retention of skills or knowledge as well. The feature that allows you to save the responses to a spreadsheet allows for instant grading too - a huge time saver.
  • A game-like format flipchart to review for a test is always a popular way to study.
  • Texting a response gives every student the chance to be included, then sorting or graphing the responses allows everyone to see trends in thinking. I have found that one word or short phrase texts work better than sentences.
  • For anything with numbers, there is the numeric response - calculations, math equations, problem solving. For a non-standard math problem it is affirming for the students to categorize all the responses that come to the board, showing the variety of thinking and strategies being used by students.
  • Back-To-School Night in the fall - my entire presentation was done on the Activboard. At the conclusion I had a ‘quiz’ for the parents to participate in so they could use the Activexpressions and see what their students would have access to. The parents all wanted to return to fourth grade the next day.

All this has happened in one short year. This month, 21 new Activboards are being installed on my campus. This occurred because of the interest teachers generated seeing my Activboard in action. I am now training those teachers how to use the software and create engaging flipcharts. Several sets of Activexpressions are also on their way. These ‘magical tools’ have created a cultural shift in how teaching and learning is bring approached on my campus.

As Stewart Brand writes: “Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road.” I am thrilled that the magic of Promethean technology has arrived on my campus.

Lynne Harvey, Fourth Grade Teacher
Monterey Ridge Elementary
Poway Unified School District
San Diego, CA., USA

Inspiring the digital natives with Activexpression | ActivEducator Blog from Promethean Planet

STMA honors Tarantino, Miller, Reiss and Campbell - Athletic Turf



Feb 2, 2009
Athletic Turf News

SAN JOSE, CA — The Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) handed out its Founders Awards during the recent STMA Conference. The awards are named after the four founders of STMA: Dick Ericson, Dr. William H. Daniel, George Toma, and Harry Gill, and each award has separate and distinct judging criteria. Those nominated are evaluated confidentially and independently by the STMA Board of Directors, and winners are not notified until their name is announced during the banquet.

Mike Tarantino from Poway Unified School District in Poway, Calif., received the Dick Ericson award, which is given to a sports turf manager who positively impacts the sports turf industry and exhibits effective team leadership. His nomination referenced his professionalism, team leadership, a commitment to improving the industry, and his contributions to STMA committee service.

Founder Dr. William Daniel set the standard for educator and researcher involvement in the STMA, and created a partnership between sports turf managers and educators and researchers. This award recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to the sports turf industry through his or her research, teaching or extension outreach. Dr. Grady Miller, North Carolina State University was presented this honor in recognition for his substantial research on sports field management techniques during drought conditions, his accessibility to sports turf managers and his authorship of numerous books and scientific manuscripts dedicated to the profession.

The George Toma Golden Rake Award, which acknowledges an individual’s strong work ethic and job performance, was presented to David Reiss from Wasatch County School District in Heber City, Utah. He is described as an outstanding turf man, an advocate of excellence and accountability in his profession, and his nomination acclaimed his enthusiasm and dedication to providing high quality sports and practice fields.

The Harry C. Gill Memorial Award was presented to former STMA board president Bob Campbell, CSFM, from the University of Tennessee. The Gill Award recognizes an individual for their hard work in the sports turf industry and acknowledges their dedication and service to the STMA. Campbell was honored for his extraordinary commitment to the profession. His sports field management practices have raised the bar for all sports turf managers, and he is lauded as a mentor to many in the industry. His leadership helped to navigate STMA through turbulent times, and it is through his leadership that the association is strong and vibrant today.

STMA honors Tarantino, Miller, Reiss and Campbell - Athletic Turf

Parents not notified when children are out of school? Interesting article (Poway mentioned at the end)

Board places parental notification issue on hold

By Mike A'Dair/TWN Staff Writer

Posted: 01/23/2009 11:59:24 AM PST

The Willits Unified School board has tabled discussion about whether the district should notify parents when their children leave school to obtain confidential medical services until Superintendent of Schools Debra Kubin receives clarification on the issue from the state Department of Education.

The controversy revolves around the question of how to interpret WUSD policy 5113, based on state Education Code section 46010.1. That section of the code states school authorities "may" excuse students from school for confidential medical services without parental consent.

Currently, the district interprets 46010.1 as mandatory. The district's policy states: "At the beginning of each academic year, notifications shall be sent to the parents/guardians of all students, and to all students grades 7 through 12, informing them school authorities may excuse any student from school to obtain confidential medical services without the consent of the student's parent/guardian."

A related district policy states: "Students in grades 7-12 shall not be absent from school without their parents/guardians' knowledge or consent except in cases of medical emergency or confidential medical appointment."

But Robert and Donna Lovato, parents of Willits High School senior Jenna Lovato, are urging the district to change its policy and notify those parents who wish to be informed of their children's medical appointments.

"We are requesting that either the school board reconsider and retract the implementation of this policy, or would develop a Parental Opt-Out a written statement of nonconsent as there are similar clauses in Education Codes 51240,51938 and 49451, since state law is permissive in nature [rather than required]." Donna Lovato wrote in a letter to Kubin.

The policy question has sparked some controversy.

"More is involved here than just birth control and abortion," according to Trustee Cynthia. "There is more than that out there that we are talking about here."

"This is not nice to talk about, but here it is," Kubin says. "I knew an administrator who worked at a large high school, who knew of a girl who was getting molested by her stepfather in the home. The student was seeking mental health services. Now, do you think it would have been right to require parental notification from that stepfather? Do you think he would have given it?"

Linda Davis-Alldritt, a Department of Education school nurse and health consultant, had previously told the Lovatos that section 46010.1 is permissive, an opinion she reaffirmed in a recent conversation with Kubin.

But Davis-Alldritt conceded she was not sure about the interpretation and would seek clarification from Department of Education attorneys.

That clarification is still pending.

"I don't know how long that could take," Kubin says. "It could be weeks. It could be months."

Donna Lovato says she doesn't "understand why the schools are involved in this. The kids can go to medical appointments after school. This would take liability off the schools, and it wouldn't take the authority away from the parents."

In a conversation with The Willits News, Lovato explained why a policy change is so important to her family. "We are teaching our children to be totally honest. So when you act without telling your parents when you do something you need medical treatment for and you don't let your parents know then you are not being totally honest. You are going around your parents. So this school board policy actually undermines what we are teaching our children.

"I don't think the school board has the right to do that.

"If we are teaching our kids something other than complete honesty, then what kind of citizens are we making?"

The issue is made more confusing because legal experts disagree on how to interpret EC 46010.1. Margaret Merchat of School and College Legal Services, the organization that acts as legal counsel for the Willits Unified School District, believes EC 46010.1 must be interpreted as mandatory.

Matthew McReynolds, an attorney with the Pacific Justice Institute of Sacramento, believes the section must be interpreted as permissive. "It is a basic principle of statutory construction that 'may' is permissive, whereas 'shall' is mandatory.

"California law permits schools to excuse students for confidential medical appointments without the approval of a parent or guardian, but does not require schools to do so."

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer agrees section 46010.1 must be interpreted as mandatory. In a 2004 legal opinion he wrote, "If a school district could require parental consent under the terms of Education Code section 46010.1, the statute would no longer concern 'confidential medical services.' By definition, such services are kept confidential from the guardian or parent of the pupil."

According to Lovato, former California Attorney General Dan Lundgren has opined "may" means "may" and school districts, while they may choose to offer excused absences to students for confidential medical services, may also chose not to.

In November, Kubin told the board she had researched the policies of 30 school districts in the state and had been able to find only two districts Poway Unified School District and San Diego Unified that interpreted 46010.1 as permissive.

On January 14, the Lovatos came back with copies of board policies from 12 more school districts in California that interpret 46010.1 as permissive.

Board places parental notification issue on hold - The Willits News

School district seeking new digs

By Linda Lou

2:00 a.m. December 18, 2008

The Poway Unified School District is looking for a new headquarters building, and has to decide whether it wants to buy or build.

The search is starting as the district wraps up construction on what could be its last new school, Del Norte High School in 4S Ranch, scheduled to open in August 2009. Poway Unified also has been extensively upgrading older campuses.

Deputy Superintendent John Collins said ...

for the rest, follow the link below...

School district seeking new digs

Poway USD Teacher Marissa Ochoa Surprised with a $25,000 Milken Educator Award

December 03, 2008

Posted by: Milken Family Foundation

At a teacher staff meeting that third-grade teacher Marissa Ochoa once attended, Poway Unified School District Superintendent Donald A. Phillips said, "No matter what's going on in your life, this is the only year that that student is going to be in your classroom."

Ochoa never forgot those words, and she recalled them this morning when she was surprised by Milken Family Foundation Chairman Lowell Milken with a $25,000 Milken Educator Award for her excellence as a teacher.

Note: click on the picture for a bio of Marissa Ochoa  ------------------------------->>

As with every other Milken Educator, Ochoa did not expect to receive the honor this morning, nor did she even know she'd been nominated. As she stood along the wall near her students during a schoolwide assembly inside Valley Elementary School's multi-purpose room, listening to speeches from a roster of famous people and educational leaders, she had no idea that the whole thing had been organized to celebrate her achievements as an outstanding educator.

"You're all really lucky to be here and learning," said football legend Rosey Grier to the students of Valley Elementary School, "so that when you grow up, you can be anything you want to be:  a doctor, a lawyer, a minister, a teacher—you can even be president!"

"It takes a whole community to make a great school," said California Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell. "We all have a stake in making education great."

And that emphasis on the importance of teaching and learning continued as Lowell Milken began to speak, revealing hints about the real purpose of the assembly:  to surprise a Valley Elementary teacher with a $25,000 Milken Educator Award.

In a profession that seldom honors its best practitioners with public acclaim or substantial reward, the Milken Educator Award, Lowell explained, was being given to a teacher at Valley Elementary "who is representative of the many outstanding teachers in this school, district and across the nation."

When Lowell announced Marissa Ochoa's name as the recipient, her students and colleagues filled the room with thunderous cheers and applause. Meanwhile, in the back of the room, a woman began to cry with joy and pride:  Mary Ochoa, an employee of the Poway Unified School District and mother of the newest Milken Educator.

Giving Ochoa a moment to regain her composure, veteran California Milken Educators Linda Fisher (CA '98) and Susana Baum (CA '00) offered their congratulations and gave a brief glimpse of what it's like to be a recipient of the Award.

"This Award is life-altering," said Baum. "The Foundation does many good things and you should be proud."

Then it was Ochoa's turn to speak. She recalled the words of Superintendent Phillips and introduced her mother, whom she calls "Mama O."  She then spoke about the profession she loves so much.

"Every student that comes through my door, I put my heart and soul into," she said.

She then addressed the students, telling them that "the teachers who push you the most are the ones who care the most for you."

For all her pushing and caring, her exemplary instruction and her commitment to her students, this was Marissa Ochoa's day, her Award, and the beginning of a brand new adventure in her life.

As Lowell Milken said to her, "You are a shining example of what's right in public education."

Milken Educator Awards Notifications Blog

Seventy seven PUSD teachers become National Board Certified Teachers

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell today congratulated 365 California teachers who have met rigorous criteria this year to become National Board Certified Teachers® (NBCTs) from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards®.

California Department of Education News Release

Release: #08-177
December 9, 2008

Contact: Tina Jung
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Jack O'Connell Announces 365
California Teachers Received Prestigious National Certification

SACRAMENTO — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell today congratulated 365 California teachers who have met rigorous criteria this year to become National Board Certified Teachers® (NBCTs) from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards®.

"This is a very prestigious honor for teachers who have worked hard to earn this national distinction," said O’Connell. "I congratulate them, and thank all teachers who I know are working hard to help our students succeed academically so they may compete in a more global, technologically challenging world."

This brings the total number of California teachers who have achieved NBCT status to 4,240, up from the total 3,878 last year. The 365 teachers who received their certification this year represent a 43 percent increase over the prior year. California ranks sixth nationwide this year in the number of new NBCTs, and ranks fourth in the total number of teachers who have achieved this certification. California’s 365 new NBCTs join 9,600 others nationwide this year, setting a national record for two years in a row.

The California school district that had the highest number of new NBCTs this year was the Los Angeles Unified School District with 129 teachers, ranking seventh compared to all other districts in the nation. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards also reports California’s top five school districts with the total number of teachers over time who have acquired NBCT status are:

  • Los Angeles Unified School District — 1,189;
  • San Diego Unified School District — 156;
  • San Francisco Unified School District — 154;
  • Long Beach Unified School District — 124; and
  • Poway Unified School District — 77.

Nearly 74,000 teachers in the nation have earned NBCTs. Educators achieving this status are comparable to board-certified doctors and accountants, who voluntarily meet rigorous criteria through intensive study, expert evaluation, self-assessment, and peer review. Research shows NBCTs consistently outperform their peers in knowledge of subject matter and ability to create challenging and engaging lessons for students.

National Board Certification is a voluntary assessment program designed to recognize great teachers, reward them, and increase their skills. While state licensing systems set basic requirements to teach in each state, NBCTs have successfully demonstrated advanced teaching knowledge, skills, and practices.The certification process typically takes between one and three years to complete. As part of the process, teachers build a portfolio that includes student work samples, assignments, videotapes, and a thorough analysis of their classroom teaching, including evidence of fairness, equity, and access in meeting student needs .Teachers are also assessed on their knowledge of the subjects they teach.

NBCTs comprise 2 percent of the national teaching force, yet they have won nearly a fourth of the 2008 state teacher of the year awards and a third of the 2007 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). Some prime examples of this are:

  • Lewis Chappelear of North Hills, teaches at James Monroe High School in the Los Angeles Unified School District (Los Angeles County). He was named a 2008 California Teacher of the Year;
  • Caleb Cheung of Oakland, teaches at Frick Middle School in the Oakland Unified School District (Alameda County). He was the winner of the 2005 PAEMST award for mathematics; and
  • Margaret Cagle of Chatsworth, teaches at Lawrence Gifted/Highly Gifted Magnet in the Los Angeles Unified School District (Los Angeles County). She won the 2005 PAEMST award for mathematics.

All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and more than 700 local school districts recognize NBCT status as a mark of distinction and excellence. These municipalities provide valuable incentives to keep the nation's most accomplished teachers in classrooms where they are needed the most.For example, 63.7 percent of NBCTs in California teach in Title I eligible schools. Title I schools receive federal funding to help socioeconomically disadvantaged students.

Information about how California supports the process of helping teachers become NBCTs is available at National Certification for Teachers - Teaching. For more information about the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and National Board Certification, please visit National Board for Professional Teaching Standards [] (Outside Source). A searchable directory of these newly certified NBCT educators is located at National Board for Professional Teaching Standards: NBCT Directory [] (Outside Source).

# # # #

Jack O'Connell — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5206, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

National Board Certified Teachers - Year 2008 (CA Dept of Education)

Poway Unified School District gets an AA rating for its series A GO bonds.

Summary: Poway Unified School District Facilities Improvement District No. 2007-1, California; General Obligation


Publication Date:
Dec 01, 2008

Report Type:

Standard&Poor's Ratings Services has assigned its 'AA-' rating on Poway Unified School District Facilities Improvement District No. 2007-1 (SFID), Calif.'s 2008 Election, series A GO bonds. The outlook is stable. In our opinion, the rating reflects: Proximity to the diverse and broad San Diego area economy, with very strong income and extremely strong wealth levels; Moderate average daily attendance (ADA) increases, the main driver of the state funding formula, in the past two years; Significant financial flexibility when factoring in all available reserves; and Moderate overall debt burden as a percent of market value. An unlimited ad valorem tax pledge levied within the improvement district secures the bonds. The SFID was created to improve and expand certain of

Brief Excerpt:
RESEARCH Ratings Definitions Summary: Poway Unified School District Facilities Improvement District No. ####-#, California; General Obligation Publication date: ##-Dec-#### Primary Credit Analyst: Hilary A Sutton, New York ###-###-####;...

Word Count:

Poway Unif Sch Dist Sch Facs Imp Dist # 2007-1

Summary: Poway Unified School District Facilities Improvement District No. 2007-1, California; General Obligation - 2008/12/01 - S&P Credit Research -

Memo Stirs Pot In High School Cheating Scandal - Education News Story - KNSD | San Diego

Memo Stirs Pot In High School Cheating Scandal

SAN DIEGO -- A blistering e-mail about student cheating from an administrator at Rancho Bernardo High School is angering some students and parents.

Watch Video

The e-mail was written by Rancho Bernardo High School Assistant Vice Principal Keith Koelzer and dated Saturday, April 26. It gives the details of a cheating scandal involving eight students accused of hacking into the school's computer network.

"Our worse technological nightmare has just occurred," Koelzer wrote.

According to Koelzer, the hackers distributed tests to students several days before they were administered and altered grades on student transcripts.

But does the e-mail go too far? In his letter, Koelzer also mentioned the funeral service of a former Rancho Bernardo student who was killed in a car accident several weeks ago. And he questioned the moral character of students.

"Our students need us now more than ever to direct their moral compasses northward," Koelzer said in the e-mail.

The Poway Unified School District is referring all media inquiries about the principal's e-mail to the district's lawyer. Attorney Jack Sleeth told NBC 7/39 that at issue is whether the e-mail violated any student's right to privacy, and the legal issues surrounding potential disciplinary action for those students. He said the student hackers have been suspended while the incident is investigated. Penalties for the students could include expulsion.

All students are required to review and sign the district's Academic Honesty policy and Student Internet Safety and Responsible Use policy, Sleeth said. Violations of the policies could result in disciplinary action, including financial restitution.

Bernard Kohan, a computer security expert with Comentum Corporation, said the school bears a degree of responsibility for not providing enough security for its computer network.

"It's unbelievable. It should be very difficult," he said. "It shouldn't be easy to break into a system if there are enough security protocol in place to prevent anyone from hacking into the system."

The district lawyer would not talk to NBC 7/39 on camera until a technology team can determine the full scope of the cheating scandal.

Memo Stirs Pot In High School Cheating Scandal - Education News Story - KNSD | San Diego

Court rules in favor of T-shirt


Court rules in favor of T-shirt

Jeff Johnson - OneNewsNow - 5/5/2008 6:00:00 AM

justice A federal appeals court is upholding a student's right to wear a T-shirt that promotes a Christian viewpoint on the issue of homosexuality. 

One day after the pro-homosexual "Day of Silence" in 2007, administrators at Neuqua Valley, Illinois, High School ordered senior Heidi Zamecnik to cover the message "Be Happy, Not Gay" on her T-shirt -- although students had been allowed to wear T-shirts with messages celebrating homosexuality the previous day.
But Attorney Nate Kellum with the Alliance Defense Fund says Heidi and another plaintiff, Alex Nuxoll, are pleased with the decision from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to allow such shirts. "He's able to use the T-shirt stating, 'Be Happy, Not Gay,' as a way of communicating his firm Christian belief that homosexual behavior does not lead to happiness," says Kellum.
Kellum notes public school officials have to understand that if they allow some students to publicly express their viewpoint on an issue, they must allow other students to voice differing opinions on the same topic.

Court rules in favor of T-shirt (

RANCHO BERNARDO: Six high school students suspended during cheating investigation


Rancho Bernardo teens allegedly hacked into computer, changed grades

RANCHO BERNARDO ---- Six Rancho Bernardo High School students were suspended Monday for allegedly hacking into a campus computer system to change their grades and to access tests, a district official said Tuesday.

The students will remain suspended pending completion of a district investigation, Poway Unified School District spokeswoman Sharon Raffer said.

The hacking appears to have been isolated to the Rancho Bernardo campus, one of five high schools in the Poway Unified School District.

Raffer declined to name the suspended students and to provide details on how they allegedly hacked into the school's system. She also declined Tuesday to say how the school discovered that its computer system had been hacked.

"The police have been notified and we will review the results of the high school's investigation," Raffer said. "That's really all that I can say."

Students and parents in Poway Unified are required to sign both an academic honesty policy and an Internet and technology use agreement at the start of school each fall, she said. In both policies, the district has outlined consequences for cheating on tests, forgery, the alteration of materials and the inappropriate use of computer or technology equipment on campus.

The consequences for each offense depend on the situation. Typically, a cheating incident at the high school level could result in a parent-teacher meeting, a failing grade on the assignment or exam, or other school-site actions.

Raffer said that in this particular case, though, the gravity of the incident called for stricter discipline.

...follow the link for the rest of the story and the comments...

RANCHO BERNARDO: Six high school students suspended during cheating investigation : North County Times - Californian

Cheating probe leads to 6 suspended at Rancho Bernardo High School


RANCHO BERNARDO – Six Rancho Bernardo High School students have been suspended pending the completion of an investigation into a recently discovered cheating scandal that involved hacking into the computer system, school officials said Monday night.

Grades were changed and some tests were accessed, Poway Unified School District Superintendent Donald Phillips said.

The hacking appears to have been limited to Ranch Bernardo High grades and tests and does not extend districtwide, Principal Paul Robinson and Phillips said.

Police are aware of what's going on but are waiting for the district to finish investigating before moving forward, Robinson said.

...follow the link for the rest of the story... > News > Education -- Cheating probe leads to 6 suspended at Rancho Bernardo High School

ACLU defends Poway student who protested Day of Silence


We didn’t make this up

ACLU defends Poway student who protested Day of Silence

News Release
American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego & Imperial Counties

In a significant free speech case that has sparked national attention, the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego & Imperial Counties has filed an amicus brief in U.S. District Court in Harper v. Poway Unified School District. Our brief argues that the anti-gay t-shirt worn by Tyler Chase Harper did not amount to harassment that the school was permitted to punish.
In 2004, students at Poway High School organized a “Day of Silence,” a national youth-run effort using silence to protest the actual silencing of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people due to harassment, bias, and abuse in schools. On the Day of Silence and the following day, Harper wore a t-shirt that said, "Be Ashamed, Our School Embraced What God Has Condemned" on the front and "Homosexuality Is Shameful 'Romans 1:27' " on the back. There was no evidence of any disturbance on the first day, and on the second day, a teacher observed “several students off-task talking about the shirt.” It was also alleged that there may have been a “tense verbal conversation” about it, but Harper characterized it and other conversations as “peaceful discussions wherein differing viewpoints were communicated.”

...for the rest, follow the link...

California Catholic Daily - We didn’t make this up

Three get Teacher of Year honors

One winner has received notice of possible layoff

POWAY – One let out a yelp, another got very self-conscious about her attire, and the third heard a round of applause from a roomful of colleagues.

After each initial shock, it was a time of celebration for the Poway Unified School District's Teacher of the Year winners.

District Superintendent Donald Phillips led a small delegation in back-to-back surprise visits yesterday, bestowing compliments and a spring bouquet on the three teachers, and on two support staffers.

The awards place the teachers into a countywide competition that can lead to state and national honors.

Here are mini-profiles of the teachers who were honored:

Elizabeth Pletcher-Goff, a second-grade teacher at Shoal Creek Elementary School, emphasizes storytelling as a precursor to her writing curriculum. Her students are encouraged to ask their parents and grandparents to help them with written reports that draw on elements of their cultural background.

“You're very lucky to have her,” Phillips told the students as Pletcher-Goff admitted to a bit of embarrassment about her jeans and hooded sweat shirt. Phillips then made an announcement to the entire school over its public-address system.

... for rest of story, follow the link... > News > North County -- Three get Teacher of Year honors

Teachers' protest shirts require some alterations


Murphy's Law, the theory that if something can go wrong it will, caught up with some local teachers.

The Poway Federation of Teachers distributed signs and T-shirts custom printed with anti-budget-cut slogans. The only problem is that a misspelling appears on all of them – much to the teachers' chagrin.

An employee of the union, which represents teachers in the Poway Unified School District, said no one noticed the error until the products arrived from the printer.

The misprinted shirts and signs criticize “Govenor” Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed education spending cuts.

With neither time nor money to correct the faux pas, they did the next best thing: They advised folks to black out, cross out or tape over the second half of the misspelled word, making it “Gov” Schwarzenegger. > News > Metro > Diane Bell -- Teachers' protest shirts require some alterations

Taxing the System : April 2008 : THE Journal


Taxing the System

by Bridget McCrea

Eager to comply with the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), which addresses concerns over access to "offensive" Internet content on school and library computers, the Poway Unified School District made a move this year to ensure that its 33,000 students are kept as far away as possible from such content. By beefing up its Internet content-filtering, the San Diego, CA district also put itself in the position to qualify for federal grants not accessible to schools that don't comply with CIPA.

"Our first few filters were software-based and too slow and cumbersome," explained Marc Ludwig, systems engineer for the district, which comprises 23 elementary schools, six middle schools, four comprehensive high schools, and one continuation school. "Students were getting around the blocked Web sites by simply turning the proxy off in their browsers, so we knew we had to look around for something more robust and comprehensive."

When shopping around for a better solution, PUSD learned of a solution being offered by St. Bernard Software, also in San Diego. The vendor presented its iPrism Model 3100, a dedicated Internet filtering appliance that secures organizations from potential Internet-based threats, such as spyware, IM, P2P, and inappropriate content, while also helping to enforce acceptable use and security policies.

"We saw that the filtering would be easy to manage; you could pretty much install the appliance and forget about it," said Ludwig. "So we bought it." The appliance allows the district to block all pornographic, gambling-related, and other sites that district administrators have deemed inappropriate for students. "We have a whole list of categories that we give to our school board," said Ludwig, "which looks at it and decides what it wants blocked, based on CIPA and bandwidth."

In March, the district took its dedication to Web security a step further when it became one of the first to install St. Bernard's new iPrism h-Series Web monitoring appliance. Designed for enterprises of all sizes, the new models are available in five configurations (the iPrism 10h, 20h, 30h, 50h ,and 100h) and target risks associated with Web, instant messaging, and P2P applications.

Starting at $1,200, the iPrisms are hybrid-ready and designed to enhance iPrism Web Filter capabilities now while helping organizations prepare for new features and functionality in the future. Compatible with all supported versions of iPrism operating software, the new appliances provide throughput speeds ranging from 10 Mbps to 100 Mbps, depending on the model.
Steve Yin, St. Bernard's vice president for worldwide sales and marketing, said the appliance stands out from other security options in that it gives school districts a complete package that includes an operating system, applications software, and the necessary hardware.

Taxing the System : April 2008 : THE Journal

Proposed cuts protested at school


RANCHO PENASQUITOS: About 60 students, teachers and parents protested proposed school budget cuts yesterday morning outside Mt. Carmel High School. They waved signs with the slogan “Save Our Schools” in the before-school rally on Carmel Mountain Road in Rancho Peñasquitos.

Many motorists caught in the traffic snarl of parents dropping off students honked in support.

The high school is in the Poway Unified School District, which would have to cut $15.5 million from its 2008-09 budget as part of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's 10 percent across-the-board reduction in state spending.

The governor's plan includes $4.4 billion in education cuts statewide. About 180 teachers, counselors and administrators could lose their jobs in the district, and class sizes in most grades could increase. –C.S. > News > Education -- Proposed cuts protested at school

Creative Teaching Awards - Hey PUSD is in here!


Creative Teaching Awards

Winner: Vice Principal Rita Wilson, Rancho Bernardo High School, Poway, California

Approach: During the 2002 April Dance, Ms. Wilson wanted to make sure that female students were following the dress code. So, as they were entering the building, she lifted up the girls’ skirts to see if they were wearing thong underwear, which was prohibited. According to a source, she even did so in front of male students.

Reaction: The Poway Unified School District investigated and concluded that the vice principal “used poor judgment”…then demoted her to a classroom teaching job.

Creative Teaching Awards « The Loveliest Words

Extra security, no incidents at Black Mountain Middle School


Extra security, no incidents at Black Mountain Middle School

Students streamed into Black Mountain Middle School Monday morning amid an extra degree of caution in response to a crude bathroom-graffiti threat.

A San Diego police squad car parked on campus and a more visible presence by counselors and other school officials before the morning bell, however, were the only visible signs the school was experiencing anything other than a normal day.

Principal David Hall said the school took the measures because of a message that read, “Going to kill you all 3/31/08,” found Friday afternoon in a boys' bathroom. Parents got word of the graffiti in e-mail and telephone messages later that day.

Sharon Raffer, a district spokeswoman, estimated roughly 260 students, or 20 percent of its 1,289 6th, 7th and 8th grade students, stayed home because of the threat. The number does not include additional absences due to illness.

... for rest of story, follow the link... > News > Metro -- Extra security, no incidents at Black Mountain Middle School

RANCHO PENASQUITOS: Students: Racial incidents prompt discussion


RANCHO PENASQUITOS: Students: Racial incidents prompt discussion

By SHAYNA CHABNER - Staff Writer | Thursday, March 27, 2008 12:47 PM PDT


RANCHO PENASQUITOS ---- In the wake of three racially related incidents on Westview High School's campus this year, students say they are talking more openly about race, religion, cultural practices and opinions.
Student leaders conceded that the incidents cast a shadow over the 2,300-student campus, but they described the incidents as isolated acts that are not representative of the way many Westview students interact or feel about such issues.

On two occasions this school year, including once last week, a swastika was found painted on the window of Westview's student store. And on Halloween, a costume worn by a student created a stir because it was said to resemble a Ku Klux Klan outfit.

"I don't think that anyone at Westview could do those things," said senior Stephanie King, 18. "They are more just incidents that happened at Westview than things that represent Westview."

Still, King said, the incidents are not something that can be ignored.

As a member of the school's Human Relations Committee, King said she is trying to promote greater unity among students and more respect for the school's diverse student body. Statistics for the 2006-07 school year show that Westview is 55.3 percent white, 21 percent Asian, 9 percent Filipino, 8 percent Hispanic and 3 percent black.

The Human Relations Committee, which was founded last fall before the incidents, includes leaders of more than a dozen religious, ethnic and culturally focused groups on campus.

... for the rest of the story, follow the below link...

RANCHO PENASQUITOS: Students: Racial incidents prompt discussion : North County Times - Californian

Politics - California Lottery should repay state for party, audit says


California Lottery should repay state for party, audit says

By Judy Lin -

California Lottery officials should repay $46,336 that was inappropriately spent on an employee celebration dinner last November, according to an audit released Wednesday by the State Controller's Office.

"Billed as an employee recognition and training event, the expenses actually went to entertainment, prizes and black-peppered prime rib dinners for Lottery employees, retirees and guests," Controller John Chiang said in a statement.

Nearly $30,000 was spent on the Nov. 8 event, intended to celebrate the lottery's $20 billion contribution to education. Besides a dinner and dessert, guests received silver-plated photo frames, and the lottery hired a disc jockey and photographer.

... for the rest of the story, follow the below link...

Politics - California Lottery should repay state for party, audit says -

East Coast Cities Hopes To Lure Away Local Teachers

East Coast Cities Hopes To Lure Away Local Teachers

With more than 1,000 teachers being handed pink slips, a school district outside of California is hoping to entice them into heading east.

The Fort Worth Independent School District has begun a major billboard recruiting campaign. The signs, located along Garnet Avenue, west of Mission Bay Drive and La Jolla Village Drive, east of Regent Rd., will stay in place until June, according to the school district.

... for the rest of the story, follow the below link...

City Hopes To Lure Away Local Teachers - Local News Story - KNSD | San Diego

Poway Unified School District Fire Relief Fund charity under fire


March 26, 2008

Poway charity under fire

SACRAMENTO -- State Lottery employees thought they were doing a good thing last fall when they decided to make a contribution to the Poway Unified School District Fire Relief Fund.

But a state audit released today said that the $2,558 contribution came from a Lottery fund where public and private funds were improperty mixed -- and the source of more than half the money was not properly documented.

The main target of a scathing audit released by state Controller John Chiang is a lavish $46,336 employee dinner held by the Lottery last Nov. 8 to celebrate $20 billion in Lottery funding for education.

... for the rest of the story, follow the below link...

Newsblog | Poway charity under fire

Black Mountain Middle School in Rancho Peñasquitos on alert due to threatening message

March 30, 2008

Black Mountain Middle School in Rancho Peñasquitos will receive extra police protection on Monday because of a threatening message found on the campus.

A spokeswoman for the Poway Unified School District said a custodian found a message on Friday on a bathroom wall at the school that read “Going to kill you all 3/31.”

Sharon Raffer, spokeswoman for Poway Unified, said the bathroom was closed immediately and police were notified. She said Principal David Hall sent out a message – by phone and e-mail – Friday to notify parents of the incident and list the precautions that the district was taking, such as having more district security employees on campus.

... for the rest of the story, follow the below link... > News > North County -- Peñasquitos school on alert due to threatening message

ADF: Poway free speech case again before 9th Circuit - Alliance Defense Fund - Defending Our First Liberty

Poway free speech case again before 9th Circuit

ADF attorneys file opening brief challenging school’s speech policies
Monday, March 31, 2008, 8:45 AM (MST) |
ADF Media Relations | 480-444-0020

U.S. Supreme Court vacates widely criticized 9th Circuit decision in Poway “T-shirt” case

SAN FRANCISCO — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund and Advocates for Faith and Freedom filed their opening brief Tuesday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in a case involving the free speech rights of students.  The lawsuit challenges policies within the Poway Unified School District that unconstitutionally restrict student speech.
“Christian students shouldn’t be penalized for expressing their beliefs.  They have the same First Amendment rights as all other students on campus,” said ADF Legal Counsel Tim Chandler.  “Speech cannot be silenced simply because someone else disagrees with it or deems it to be ‘negative.’  As the Supreme Court has stated, students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate.”

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In 2004, then-sophomore Chase Harper wore a T-shirt to school expressing a biblical viewpoint on homosexual behavior during the school’s “Day of Silence,” an event sponsored by the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance club.
A school official ordered Harper to remove the shirt, but he respectfully declined to do so.  Instead, he was forced to sit in the office for the remainder of the school day, was subjected to “counseling” by school officials, and was interrogated by a deputy sheriff who took photographs of him.  A school administrator told Harper he should “leave his faith in the car” because it might be offensive to others.
The 9th Circuit initially ruled that the school may have been justified in censoring Chase, but in March 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated that decision (  Now Chase and his sister, Kelsie, are returning to the 9th Circuit to challenge the school’s policies because they prohibit students from expressing any religious beliefs that might be seen as “negative” or “offensive” to others.
A copy of the opening brief filed in the 9th Circuit in Harper v. Poway Unified School District can be read at
ADF is a legal alliance defending the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding, and litigation.

ADF: Poway free speech case again before 9th Circuit - Alliance Defense Fund - Defending Our First Liberty

Students Protest In Support Of Teachers

UPDATED: 5:04 pm PDT March 14, 2008

RANCHO BERNARDO, Calif. -- A brother and sister at Rancho Bernardo High School organized a school protest Friday in support of teachers who could lose their jobs due to state budget cuts.

View Images | Watch Video

Aaron Nigro, a senior at the school, said he and his sister Chris wanted to do something to show their anger and frustration over the situation.

Aaron said he was inspired by one of his teachers who stands to lose his job.

"He has a daughter and a family of his own. Now the governor has pretty much fired (him)," he told NBC 7/39. "The main goal of this was that hopefully, it will reach the governor… we don't want to be robbed of our education," Nigro said.

Students staged a peaceful walkout. With signs in hand, they stood in front of the entrance to the school.

Co-organizer, Carissa Nigro, a freshman, said the protest was a way for students to express their emotions about the ordeal. She said for her, increased class sizes are her biggest concern.

"I'm struggling as it is. I think it would be harder for us to get A's and get the one-on-one attention we need," if class sizes grow, she said.

Principal Paul Robinson said he admired the support the students have shown for their teachers.

"Our students are fantastic. They really care about their teachers. They're hurt, they're angry… it says a lot about our teachers because they care about our students too," Robinson told NBC 7/39.

Rancho Bernardo High School is part of the Poway Unified School District -- 106 teachers in that district have received pink slips.

"We’re too young to vote. This is our way of standing up for our teachers," said Aaron.

Robinson said their school stands to lose 28 out of 126 teachers. They would soon be receiving notices that there is no guarantee they'll have a contract in the fall, he said.

Ursula Kroemer, of the San Diego Unified School District, said that 903 people will receive layoff notices by mail and those will be going out starting Thursday.

In East County, the Grossmont Union High School District is getting ready to send pink slips to about 97 of the 1,100 teachers who work for the district.

Legislators React

NBC 7/39 spoke with several legislators regarding the crisis.

Republican Assembly member Martin Garrick of the 74th District said he's been working with schools to create more flexibility in their budgets and find more ways to save.

Democratic Assembly member Lori Saldana of the 76th District said the state needs to close tax loopholes and start bringing-in more revenue.

But both agree that it would be difficult to take money from other services that may already be underfunded.

"We have a grandparent taking care of a grandchild, and they receive some money to help with that. Suddenly we're telling them we're cutting those few dollars you receive for yourself as a senior in a low-income situation and we're also cutting the amount receive for your grandchild," she said.

Legislators said they are hearing the public outcry to support schools and they suggest writing to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Students Protest In Support Of Teachers - Education News Story - KNSD | San Diego

Impact Of School Budget Cuts Coming To Light

Poway USD near the end of the article...

SAN DIEGO -- Details are beginning to emerge about who stands to lose their jobs and how schools could be affected in the wake of the budget crisis

Watch Video
Positions Slated For Cuts
Interactive Map: School Budget Cuts

The San Diego Unified School District voted 4-1 Tuesday in favor of massive job cuts. The board voted to hand out pink slips to 903 employees, including teachers, administrators, office workers, nurses, librarians and counselors. Sheila Jackson cast the sole vote against the layoffs.

Among the jobs on the list for elimination are 416 elementary teachers, 198 middle school, high school and alternative education teachers, including instructors in English, physical education and social science. There are also more than 60 counselors, 28 nurses and 15 librarians in jeopardy of losing their jobs.

The pink slips are going to be mailed out on Wednesday, according to Ursula Kroemer, district spokeswoman. But the actual details of who will be cut in the fall may not be known for several more weeks, she said.

"All of the schools submitted their budgets last week. Human resources will extract what positions are recommended for elimination or reduction," according to Kroemer.

Targeted jobs also include more than 21 principal positions, 54 vice principal posts and 12 central office managers. Kroemer also said that even though a person's position may be slated for cuts, some managers holding those jobs could be reassigned to new jobs, including going back into the classroom.

Impact Would Be Severe At One Campus

How would these cuts affect just one school?

Miramar Ranch Elementary School in Scripps Ranch stands to lose several positions and supplies and may not have a vice principal, a school nurse or a library when the school year begins next fall, said Principal Jennifer Wroblewski.

Wroblewski said she had to make difficult decisions when trying to figure out how to comply with the proposed budget cuts for next school year.

"What the vice principal does is daunting," Wroblewski said. "Essentially, I will have to do both jobs. I had to make a decision between having a vice principal and having an office staff."

Wroblewski said that Miramar Ranch has more than 700 students, and those students may not have any library to use, because the budget cuts would not afford an administrator for that library.

"It's ludicrous," Wroblewski said.

Miramar Ranch also has a media center, with around 30 computers that will sit unused next year because funding for the part-time media aids will be lost.

"Without them, the kids get nothing," said Debbie Kutyla, a parent of a third-grader at Miramar Ranch and president of the Miramar Ranch Family Faculty Association. "We also won't have a noon duty supervisor, which is basically child endangerment."

Kutyla said the school would also lose $20,000 for school and classroom supplies, which the parents will have to pick up.

"We're already asking parents for so much," Kutyla said. "We have lots of families who are just scraping by and a lot of military families really just scraping by."

Wroblewski said there is still some hope the governor could change his mind, but only if community members write to him and other representatives, and put pressure on them to back off the cuts.

Also on Tuesday, more than 900 employees of the Oceanside School District have been put on notice that they could lose their jobs. The school board voted to approve the possible layoffs. Board members said they wish there was some other way they could balance the budget.

District officials said their plan also includes the closure of two schools.

"I have all of these emotions inside of me: frustrated, angry, sad and depressed because for the life of me I cannot understand, how did we get in this mess?" said Evelyn Thomas, Oceanside High School teacher.

"We have been put in this position not from anything that his district has done, but as a result of the governor's budget and the Legislature and things that are completely outside of our control," said Janet Bledsoe Lacy, the school board president.

On Monday, the Poway Unified School District voted in favor of cutting more than 180 teachers. On Tuesday, they began the painful process of notifying teachers. The district's only ROTC program and its only agriculture program will be eliminated, among others.

"There will be the elimination or reduction of some particular kinds of courses, " said William Chiment, of the Poway Unified School District. "But also in the courses we're going to continue to offer…you're going to see the class sizes go up significantly."

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed 10-percent across-the-board budget cuts have been a swell of protest. The schools in San Diego County may face combined budget cuts of nearly a quarter billion dollars if proposed cuts to state education go through.

The final numbers on job cuts will not be known until June when the state budget is finalized.

Impact Of School Budget Cuts Coming To Light - Education News Story - KNSD | San Diego

Poway trustees to notify 180 teachers of job cuts


POWAY: Despite pleas from students and parents for Poway High School's agriculture program and Westview High School's ROTC program, Poway Unified School District trustees voted last night on cuts that will affect both programs.

Trustees, who must slash $15.5 million from the 2008-09 budget, voted to send notices to more than 180 teachers that they may not have jobs next year. The district's only ROTC program would be eliminated, and its only ag education program would be reduced.

More than 100 students, parents and teachers attended last night's school board meeting to show their opposition to the cuts. Students and parents spoke about the benefits of their favorite programs, with both groups citing the leadership and college preparedness offered by the ROTC and ag programs.

Trustees and district staff stressed that no final decisions on cuts will be made for several months, but state law requires school districts to notify teachers by March 15 if there is a possibility they won't have a job next year.

Superintendent Don Phillips said the budget problem was not created locally but the district must develop a plan to address the across-the-board cuts the governor proposed to deal with a $16 billion state deficit.–B.G. > News > North County -- Poway trustees to notify 180 teachers of job cuts

Poway Unified School District; St. Bernard Launches Industry's First Hybrid Security Solution


St. Bernard Launches Industry's First Hybrid Security Solution, Combining Appliances With On-Demand Services  Also Updates iPrism Web Filter Solution to Include Anti-Virus

St. Bernard Launches Industry's First Hybrid Security Solution, Combining Appliances With On-Demand Services

Developers, contractors big donors in Poway school bond campaign - North County Times


Developers, contractors big donors in Poway school bond campaign
By: SHAYNA CHABNER - Staff Writer
$179 million Prop. C on today's ballot

POWAY -- Supporters of a $179 million Poway school bond on today's ballot raised nearly $140,000 in four contributions last month from construction firms, political groups, consultants and developers who have worked with the school district, according to financial disclosure statements.
The four donations, ranging from $10,000 to $49,999 each, helped the Friends of Poway Unified Schools - Yes on Prop. C committee pay for last-chance election mailers, yard signs and surveys in the final push toward today's election, financial statements from the county registrar of voters' office show.

Meanwhile, the It's A Tax - Vote No on Prop. C committee collected and spent close to $2,000 in January on postage and recycled campaign signs that read "No New Taxes. No Blank Check. No 2 Prop. C."

If approved, it would raise money to complete a 24-school renovation and modernization project the Poway Unified School District began in 2002 when voters passed the $198 million Proposition U.
Prop. C would also pay for technology and campus security upgrades, as well as improvements that would bring schools in compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act access requirements.
Funds from the 2002 construction bond were swallowed up by an unprecedented escalation in the cost of building materials, intense competition for contractors because of a housing boom and Hurricane Katrina, and unexpected repairs at nearly a dozen Prop. U-financed campuses, district officials have said.
At least 55 percent of the voters have to approve Prop. C for it to pass. Only homeowners within Poway Unified's boundaries who do not pay Mello-Roos taxes -- charges similar to homeowners association fees -- are subject to the extension and will be allowed to vote on Prop. C.
The measure would extend the current tax rate of $55 per $100,000 of assessed value on homes for an additional 11 to 14 years, without raising the rate.
"It's not going to change your tax rate and the money stays here," said Lorene Joosten, one of two parents chairing the Friends of Poway Unified Committee. "It goes right into the classrooms."
The Yes on Prop. C committee spent nearly $144,560 between November and February, according to financial statements filed through Jan. 26. During that same time period, the committee collected about $199,200.
The largest single donations to date flooded in last month, including a $49,999 check from construction firm Douglas E. Barnhart. Other big contributions from last month: $49,000 donation from NTD Architects; $30,000 from the construction consulting firm Pinnacle One; and $10,000 from the political action committee for the Associated General Contractors in the San Diego region.
The three companies have worked on the district's school renovation and building program.
Together, they have received nearly $42.1 million for projects in the district since 2002, the districts' Bond Program Manger Mark Claussen said.
Nearly 140 contractors have been hired by the district for a cost of more than $291.6 million during that same period.
Opponents of the measure argue that the contractors and other companies and groups related to the building industry have donated and supported Prop. C only because they have a financial interest in keeping the building program running.
Similar charges were also levied by opponents six years ago.
"The same people that donated to (the 2002 bond) are donating to this bond," Melinda Converse, chairwoman of No on Prop. C said. "Those are the contractors that are financially benefiting."
District officials and bond supporters have argued, however, that contracts are given to the lowest bidder and not to companies that donate money to help pass a bond.
Supporters have also received a handful of $5,000 to $10,000 contributions from bond consultants, law firms, and construction companies outside the region, a $10,000 donation from the Poway Federation of Teachers, and several $100 or more donations from district and school employees.

Developers, contractors big donors in Poway school bond campaign - North County Times

Honeywell Helps Power Poway Schools With Green, Renewable Energy


Honeywell Helps Power Poway Schools With Green, Renewable Energy

PR Newswire

Solar Power Agreement Reduces Utility Costs, Provides District-Wide Educational Tool

January 29, 2008: 09:07 AM EST

MINNEAPOLIS, Jan. 29 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Honeywell today announced that Poway Unified School District in San Diego, Calif. has awarded the company a solar project that is expected to save the district more than $1 million in energy costs over the next 20 years. Under the agreement, Honeywell will install solar arrays at four of the district's schools and sell the electricity the panels produce to the district.

"This structure allows the district to incorporate green, renewable energy sources with no capital investment," said Doug Mann, executive director of facilities for Poway Unified School District. "The combination of minimizing our environmental impact while reducing energy costs makes the project a win for the district, as well as the San Diego community."

Honeywell will install the solar arrays on the roofs at Poway High School, Westview High School, Oak Valley Middle School and Chaparral Elementary School. The arrays are expected to generate a collective 578 kilowatts of power and more than 1 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually -- enough energy to power 90 homes per year. They also will cut energy costs during peak consumption when utilities typically charge a premium.

In addition to reducing costs, the solar arrays are expected to provide an educational tool that faculty can use to teach students about energy conservation and alternative energy sources. Through a Web-based portal, teachers and students will be able to see the real-time electrical output from the solar technology and learn how the systems operate.

The new arrays will deliver substantial environmental benefits as well, cutting carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 1.1 million pounds per year. According to figures from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, this is equivalent to removing more than 100 cars from the road or planting 400 acres of trees.

"The environmental benefits of renewable energy are well known," said Kent Anson, vice president of Global Energy for Honeywell Building Solutions. "But it can also have a positive financial and educational impact. Working with the school district, we identified the green technology and financing structure that would deliver the greatest benefit to the schools and surrounding areas."

The power purchase agreement builds on Honeywell's previous work with Poway Unified School District, which includes the installation of cogeneration systems at two high schools. These systems allow the district to generate electricity for its facilities while recycling the waste heat produced to heat its swimming pools. As a result, the district minimizes the use of natural gas and creates ongoing energy savings by avoiding pool heating costs.

Honeywell expects to install the solar arrays and begin providing the schools with electricity by October 2008. After the 20-year agreement expires, the district can continue purchasing electricity from the company or acquire ownership of the arrays.

Honeywell International is a $36 billion diversified technology and manufacturing leader, serving customers worldwide with aerospace products and services; control technologies for buildings, homes and industry; automotive products; turbochargers; and specialty materials. Based in Morris Township, N.J., Honeywell's shares are traded on the New York, London and Chicago Stock Exchanges. It is one of the 30 stocks that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average and is also a component of the Standard & Poor's 500 Index. For additional information, please visit Honeywell Building Solutions is part of the Honeywell Automation and Control Solutions business group, a global leader in providing product and service solutions that improve efficiency and profitability, support regulatory compliance, and maintain safe, comfortable environments in homes, buildings and industry. For more information about Building Solutions, access

This release contains "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. All statements, other than statements of fact, that address activities, events or developments that we or our management intend, expect, project, believe or anticipate will or may occur in the future are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are based on management's assumptions and assessments in light of past experience and trends, current conditions, expected future developments and other relevant factors. They are not guarantees of future performance, and actual results, developments and business decisions may differ from those envisaged by our forward-looking statements. Our forward-looking statements are also subject to risks and uncertainties, which can affect our performance in both the near- and long-term. We identify the principal risks and uncertainties that affect our performance in our Form 10-K and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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Honeywell Helps Power Poway Schools With Green, Renewable Energy

No Excuses Program - Program starts younger Inland students on path to college


No Excuses University is in place in 16 schools in California, Oregon, Texas and Illinois, serving about 9,000 students.

Paul Alvarez/The Press-Enterprise

Second-graders Macie Luszeck Johnson, left, and Georgia Cuevas read with teacher Paulette Feraldi at Harvest Valley Elementary.

The concept came five years ago from an elementary school principal trying to make a district initiative relevant to his young students.

At the time, Poway Unified School District in San Diego County had decided that all students would be ready for college, said Damen Lopez, co-principal of Los Peñasquitos Elementary School.

Countless workshops offered middle and high school teachers the tools to help prepare students, but few sessions were aimed at younger students.

No Excuses University became a way for elementary educators to reassert their importance in preparing children for higher education.

"Our work has been dumbed down because we haven't taken our seat at the table," Lopez said. "Now, we're saying there's a lot that can be done from when a 5-year-old enters kindergarten."

After two years, Lopez and Jeff King, Los Peñasquitos' co-principal, made No Excuses University available to interested schools. The school's Academic Performance Index --a state measure of progress from one year to the next based on results from the California Standards Test -- was 875 in 2004 and has since risen to 906.

... for the whole story, follow the link...

Program starts younger Inland students on path to college | Inland News | | Southern California News | News for Inland Southern California

School officials say proposed budget means big cuts North County Times


School officials say proposed budget means big cuts

By: PHILIP K. IRELAND - Staff Writer
North County educators decry governor's plan

NORTH COUNTY ---- Educators across North County said last week that they must hack millions of dollars from their annual spending plans after the governor recently unveiled a proposed budget that calls for "across-the-board" cuts in funding to most state agencies.
Midyear layoffs, larger class sizes and school closures are among the ideas administrators said they were considering.

Citing a projected $14 billion budget shortfall over the next 18 months, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a fiscal emergency during his state-of-the-state address Jan. 10.

He ordered most state agencies to gird for what he described as a 10 percent reduction in expected state funding. That number was based on what agencies received this year and the increases they expect next year.
In truth, school districts will see an actual 2 percent reduction in per-student revenue next year, said Sandy Silberstein, assistant executive director of the California Association of School Business Officials.
She said programs such as special education, known as categorical programs, can expect a 6.5 percent cut. Those programs now account for about 30 percent of state money flowing to school districts now, she said
Schwarzenegger proposes giving the state's public schools and community colleges $400 million less than they had anticipated for the remainder of this fiscal year. He also proposes cutting $4.4 billion in anticipated spending for the fiscal year that begins in July.
Carlsbad Superintendent John Roach called the governor's command for across-the-board cuts "cowardly, lazy and thoughtless."
"When a governor proposes an across-the-board cut, he's taking what work should be his and giving it to others," Roach said Thursday. "Slashing everyone equally doesn't take any real thought."
The numbers
North County school districts now get an average base allocation of $5,500 from the state to educate each student. Under Schwarzenegger's plan, which must be approved by the legislature, school districts will get about $5,390 per student in 2008 ---- $110 less than last year and hundreds less than they had anticipated next year, officials said.
At the same time, the costs of labor, utilities and materials continue to rise, a fact that will mean "drastic cuts" in personnel and services, North County school administrators said.
According to district officials:

  • Carlsbad Unified School District would need to cut $4.3 million in spending.
  • Escondido Union School District would need to cut $12.6 million spending.
  • Poway Unified School District would need to cut $12 million in spending.
  • Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District would need to cut $4 million in spending.
  • San Dieguito Union High School District would need to cut $3.7 million.
  • Oceanside Unified School District would need to cut $12 to $14 million.
    Quick action
    Oceanside Unified officials have already acted. On Tuesday, trustees approved plans to lay off 15 temporary teachers when the semester ends in two weeks.
    Oceanside Unified, which operates on a $175 million budget, has also frozen hiring of "nonessential" employees. The actions will save the district about $600,000, Superintendent Larry Perondi said Thursday.
    "This is my 33rd year in education and this is about as bad as I've seen," said Perondi. He said plans to "turn over every rock in the district" looking for ways to trim spending.
    Officials in other school districts said this week they are in the early stages of developing budget-cutting plans.
    Carlsbad's Walter Freeman said the district will try to keep the cuts as far away from the classroom as possible. He ticked off a litany of questions to show that no department will be spared the budgetary knife.
    "How many district office staff can we afford? How much maintenance? How often do we need to cut the grass? What personnel services are necessary? What level of payroll staff can do the job? How many psychologists can we afford? How many counselors, nurses and teacher aides that support classroom teachers can we afford?"
    Freeman was among several district officials who said the fiscal crisis will hurt the quality of education in the classroom.
    "It's going to have a dramatic impact on our educational program," said Poway Unified Superintendent Don Phillips, who oversees Poway's $259.2 million spending budget.
    "It's just a really unfortunate series of events coming together and unfortunately our students are the real losers in this," he said.
    Poway will look at increasing class sizes and reducing support services as part of the cost-cutting solution, Phillips said.
    Phillips said the budget woes are compounded by the fact that districts went through major cuts in the 2003-04 school year.
    "(We) haven't fully recovered from the first cuts and this one will take us at least as deep as the last time," he said.
    "It's devastating," agreed Superintendent Lou Obermeyer of the Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District. He said the district had already scaled back its spending dramatically over the past five or six years.
    To save more money, officials in Valley Center are now looking to close the district's Upper Elementary School and relocate fifth-graders to the Lower Elementary and sixth-graders to Valley Center Middle School, Obermeyer said,
    The Vista Unified School District could end up getting $4 million less from the state than expected, said Pam Hayden, chief financial officer for the district, which has an annual budget of slightly more than $200 million.
    "There's no way we would be able to handle that kind of budget reduction without making cuts," she said.
    The district's first budget priority is to keep cuts away from the classroom, Hayden said.
    However, that may be difficult. The district has already cut $28 million in planned expenditures over the past several years because revenues did not increase as anticipated, Hayden said.
    "We've got a lot of work ahead of us," she said.
    Staff writers Stacy Brandt, Shayna Chabner, and John Meyer contributed to this report. Contact staff writer Philip K. Ireland at (760) 901-4043 or
  • School officials say proposed budget means big cuts North County Times - North San Diego and Southwest Riverside County News

    Poway Unified School District wins--it was right on this one


    Thursday, January 17, 2008

    This ruling was(temporarily)de-published by Supreme Court so the lower court could rule on certain matters. The lower court has now ruled, and so this decision may be re-published any day now.

    The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the decision of Poway Superintendent Donald Phillips and principal Scott Fisher not to allow student Tyler Chase to wear to school a T-shirt that said


    "Poway High School (“the School”) has had a history of conflict among its students over issues of sexual orientation. In 2003, the School permitted a student group called the Gay-Straight Alliance to hold a “Day of Silence” at the School which, in the words of an Assistant Principal, is intended to “teach tolerance of
    others, particularly those of a different sexual orientation.”

    "During the days surrounding the 2003 “Day of Silence,”3 a series of incidents and altercations occurred on the school campus as a result of anti-homosexual comments that were made by students. One such confrontation required the Principal to separate students physically. According to David LeMaster, a teacher at Poway, several students were suspended as a result of these conflicts. Moreover, a week or so after the “Day of Silence,” a group of heterosexual students informally organized a “Straight-Pride Day,” during which they wore T-shirts which displayed derogatory remarks about homosexuals. According to Assistant Principal Lynell Antrim, some students were asked to remove the shirts and did so, while others “had an altercation and were suspended for their actions."

    ... to read the rest of the story, click the link below...

    San Diego Education Report Blog: Poway Unified School District wins--it was right on this one

    SD County Taxpayers Association: Ballot Measure Recommendations


    Sent in from the San Diego County Taxpayers Association this weekend...
    February 5, 2008 Election
    Ballot Measure Recommendations
    Click on the links below for a detailed analysis of each measure.

    Proposition C: YES
    Poway Unified School District $179 Million Bond Measure
    Proposition D: YES
    Cajon Valley Union School District $156.5 Million Bond Measure
    Proposition E:  NO
    Rancho Santa Fe School District $34 Million Bond Measure
    Propositions 94-97: YES
    Amendment to Indian Gaming Agreements
    The remaining state ballot measure recommendations will be announced on January 21st.

    A supermajority 60% vote of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association (SDCTA) Board of Directors is required for a position to be taken on any ballot measure.

    For 62 years, SDCTA has worked to inform its membership on the issues that affect our lives and our pocketbooks.  Please read your ballot carefully, and if you have questions, don't hesitate to give us a call at (619) 234-6423. 

    SD County Taxpayers Association: Ballot Measure Recs - San Diego County, Part of the Red County Network