North County Report: School Transition Program Will Transition Again
It might be summer break, but the San Dieguito Union High School District, Poway Unified, Bonsall and Vallecitos school districts are all in the news.
When the San Dieguito Union High School District unveiled its new Earl Warren Middle School Campus in Solana Beach, parents of students in the adult transition program wondered why their kids were left out of the equation.
As the school underwent a rebuild, the middle-schoolers there were set to get state-of-the-art classrooms, with large windows and natural light. The plan for the transition students, however, was to stick them in cramped portable classrooms. Accusations of discrimination then led the district to move the program to a different campus, highlighting the district’s inability to find a permanent home for its adult special education program.
“If kids were being put in there because of their race or language skills or religions, there would be outrage,” said Lucile Lynch, a parent of a student the program.
Parents have started calling the new classrooms “tool sheds,” since they only have three small windows and the air is poorly conditioned.
This year, the program expects to nearly double its enrollment, which would have meant crowded classes. The school district originally thought it could get four portable classrooms on the campus, but instead it could only fit two.
The adult transition program helps 18- to 22-year-old students transition from school to adulthood, teaching them skills to become self-sufficient.
Because of Earl Warren’s location, the school had a lot to offer the program. Students learn skills like grocery shopping, cooking, paying bills, and getting work experience. Earl Warren has quick access to stores, commercial space and the Solana Beach Station, which would have been conducive to its mission.
As a temporary solution, the district will move program to La Costa Canyon High School, but if that doesn’t work out, it will incorporate the program into Sunset High School, which is currently under construction.
Fired Poway Superintendent Faces Felony Charges
Last week moved fast in the story of John Collins, the fired superintendent of the Poway Unified School District.
First came news that Collins was done teaching or managing schools in California, because his credentials were revoked for at least one year.
Then we learned that Collins is facing five felony charges for misappropriating public money, misusing public money and filing a false economic disclosure form, relating to scandal where he received $345,000 in excess pay.
He faces up to seven years and eight months in prison, according to the district attorney’s office.
Ashly McGlone writes:
Specifically, the complaint alleges three felony counts of misappropriation of public money, one felony count of misuse of public money, and one felony count of filing a false economic interest disclosure, known as a Form 700.
The Poway school board took the rare step of terminating Collins for cause last July after forensic auditors said Collins took as much as $345,000 in excess pay he was not afforded in his employment contract, which had a base salary of $300,000 a year. Auditors also found other problems with Collins’ district credit card charges and time spent away from the office that was not logged, among other things.
The Union-Tribune reports that when he was fired last July, Collins was the highest-paid superintendent in the county, at $308,900 per year, but he faced significant personal financial problems, eventually selling his house to avoid a foreclosure.
The district has filed its own civil suit against Collins in order to recoup the money he was improperly paid.
Vallecitos Superintendent Heads to Bonsall
Though the Bonsall Unified School District hasn’t yet approved a contract, David Jones was chosen to be the new superintendent.
Jones is currently superintendent and principal at the Vallecitos School District in Rainbow, but on Aug. 1 he told the board of trustees that he was leaving the district to take the position at Bonsall.
Bonsall hasn’t yet announced a decision, but is set to discuss a contract with Jones on Aug. 9. Jones said his last day at Vallecitos will be on Aug. 15, and he begin his new job the next day.
“I respectfully request the board approve my resignation, effective August 15th, 2017. I would very much appreciate board approval of an interim superintendent/principal, which will enable me to begin my new position as the Superintendent of Bonsai Unified School District on August 16th,” Jones wrote.
According to Bonsall’s school board meeting minutes, the district held a final round of interviews on July 18, with one candidate meeting the board for the first time. That candidate was invited back for another round of interviews on July 19, and after meeting the candidate, the board made its decision among three names. It’s not clear who the late addition to the shortlist was, or whether that candidate was Jones.
Jones led the district as concerns mounted over transparency. In 2013, someone – it remains unclear whether it was Jones or the school board – instituted a controversial policy to end audio recordings of school board meetings.
Vallecitos was also the last of 100 school districts to respond to a public records request for emails, taking nearly two months to respond after the final deadline had passed.
The change in leadership comes while Bonsall tries to build a new high school, despite voters rejecting multiple bond measures to pay for it. The district was also slated to get a new elementary school if county supervisors approve the Lilac Hills Ranch development, which may still be alive after voters rejected it last year.
Also in the News
• A whale calf migrating north wandered into the Agua Hedionda Lagoon. After making it out, it got distracted again and was spotted in Dana Point Harbor. (Union-Tribune)
• The former head of the Army and Navy Academy was sentenced to 48 years for molesting a student. (Union-Tribune)
• As a greenhouse in Encinitas shows, straw bale construction is on the rise in San Diego County. (KPBS)
• Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall will seek another term. (The Coast News)
• Counter-protesters got their own permit to rally outside Rep. Darrell Issa’s Office. (Union-Tribune)