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Morning Report: How Tech Has Enabled Teacher Misconduct

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Teachers are turning to technology to have inappropriate interactions with students. But, as our Kayla Jimenez reports, fewer than 10 of the 43 districts in the county have policies that clearly address the use of social media, texting and technology to contact students outside of the classroom.

One physical education teacher at Westview High School sent a 17-year-old student text messages that said, “Should I be jealous you have a new bff? ;)” “U just better not for get me,” and “Night night sweetie,” over a year-long period.

He’s still teaching.

A second-grade teacher at McAuliffe Elementary School sent messages to the 15-year-old sister of a former student that said things like “take a risk,” “you know what you want and how to have fun” and “cute!! Money and lots of it, think about it, you could have anything you want.”

He’s still teaching.

A science teacher at Santana High School called and sent text messages to one female student’s cell phone sometimes as late as 3 a.m. about how the student was “pretty” and that things were “rocky” between him and his wife.

He also had physical contract with his students, according to records, including kissing a student on the side of her face and rubbing a girl’s back and whispering “stop flirting” during her contact with a male student.

He’s still teaching.  

In Search of Urgency on Struggling Schools

California’s list of under-performing schools, published earlier this week by the Union-Tribune, makes clear that thousands of children in our region attend struggling schools every day. They tend to be brown and poor rather than white and affluent.

In the Learning Curve, Will Huntsberry writes that the list should be an urgent reminder to our elected state and local officials, who decide how to divvy up funds, that we are failing to give every child a shot at a quality education.

In his previous newsletter, Huntsberry also wrote about San Diego Unified’s decision to push public comments on non-agenda items to the end of board meetings, which last upwards of four hours. The U-T’s editorial board called the move “tone-deaf.”

Board President Sharon Whitehurst-Payne responded in the U-T opinion section Thursday by saying she and her colleagues must prioritize the items on the agenda. She also argued that “parents and community members should not have to come to use to discuss their concerns.” Instead, she directed them to a Quality Assurance Office open during the week. (As we’ve reported, parents have had plenty of trouble finding answers there.)

The State Gives Encinitas’ Prop. A an F

California housing officials sent a letter to Encinitas this week warning that a local law giving residents the final say over major land use decisions needs to be amended or invalidated.

In December, a San Diego County Superior Court judge identified that law, known as Prop. A, as the chief obstacle of creating more housing. Encinitas has failed for years to put a state-mandated affordable housing plan on the books and was given a deadline of mid-April to comply.

In response to the new letter from the state, according to the U-T, city officials have directed attorneys to begin discussions with state regulators over the future of Prop A.

Seriously, Will the Baja California Railroad Ever Get Built?

A 70-mile stretch of defunct rail line along the Mexican border in southeastern San Diego County, known as the Desert Line, has been in the works for a really, really long time. Its restoration was first proposed a century ago.

As we reported in 2014, although a group of business interests were eager to get to work, the project was mired in conflicts involving the owners and the Metropolitan Transit System.

The Union-Tribune now reports that the project has made little progress. Officials said they planned to complete a $60-million overhaul of the line by 2020, but the company has yet to break ground or secure approval for a key cross-border inspection facility near Campo.

In Other News

  • A key San Diego committee approved a proposal that wipes out parking requirements for new housing units near mass transit in an attempt to alleviate the city’s housing shortage by making construction cheaper for developers. (Union-Tribune)
  • The San Diego State library made public hundreds of letters with detainees, opening a window into the fragile lives of migrants from more than 20 countries who’ve resided, some of them for years, inside a nondescript private prison in Otay Mesa. (New York Times)
  • San Diego officials launched a program to help homeless residents in North Park and City Heights gain access to housing and medical services. (Times of San Diego)
  • Chula Vista used funds from Measure A, a public safety sales tax that officials said badly needed to reduce response times, to hire a “public education specialist.” Duties include: speaking on behalf of the fire department and managing social media campaigns. (Union-Tribune)
  • New polling suggests that six out of 10 California voters between the ages of 18 and 34 say they can’t afford to live here. Thank you, Baby Boomers. (Union-Tribune)
  • State Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Sen. Ben Hueso endorsed U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris for president in 2020. (Politico)
  • Border Patrol Chief Patrol Agent Rodney Scott posted a photo of knocked-down barrier along the border and said it was proof that the infrastructure is aging and needs updating. (10News)
  • Escondido City Councilwoman Olga Diaz has opened a campaign finance account to possibly run for Kristin Gaspar’s seat on the County Board of Supervisors. (Disclosure: Diaz sits on the VOSD Board of Directors.)

The Morning Report was written by Ry Rivard and Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.

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