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Attorney wants people to be nicer Allison K. Sampité-montecalvo | Sat, Mar 16 2013 12:00 PM

The beginning of a Sweetwater Union High School District board meeting turned into a lesson on civility when school district attorney Dan Shinoff presented the topic to the public and trustees Monday.

The 45-minute presentation was in response to a bond oversight committee meeting held last month when an administrator felt verbally attacked by one of its members.

Two weeks following a Feb. 6 Citizen’s Bond Oversight Committee meeting, chair Nick Marinovich received an email from Shinoff regarding his “conduct.”

“…We request that all future communication by you at the district’s board meetings and/or communications with the district staff be conducted in a professional manner. Please note that the district will take all appropriate steps to insure that civility is maintained and its employees are protected,” Shinoff stated.

Marinovich said the incident was sparked by the frustration that a specific request was not met.

“Our committee requested that the consultant review the iPad acquisition,” Marinovich said.

The district sent executive director of curriculum and instruction Maria Castilleja to answer questions surrounding the issue of the iPads, even though the committee expected, based on its request, to receive written rationale for bond spending on them, according to Marinovich.

“The committee wanted a presentation on how the iPad decision was made and she went over the good points and how the iPad initiative was functioning,” Marinovich said. “I was getting really frustrated. I was more forceful than my normal personality is.”

Following the meeting, Marinovich apologized to Castilleja after she called him saying her feelings were hurt. He also sent an apologetic email.

Then Marinovich received two Feb. 21 letters.

“I was surprised and I was shocked by the allegations that I was uncivil,” he said. “So what I did was I checked with my colleagues and after listening to the tape and conferring with my colleagues I found that I was not uncivil.”

Marinovich said despite the issue, he wants to focus on continuing his work.

“I don’t want to let this letter be a distraction from my mission as chair and my commitment to the bond but also I’m not going to be intimidated by this and not speak out,” he said.

Shinoff outlined goals focusing on respect and listening to different viewpoints, reducing unproductive arguing and being role models to students.

He also discussed the importance of a safe, stress-free work environment in order to minimize the potential for post-traumatic stress syndrome.

“Stress becomes cumulative and it really begins to impact morale,” he said. “I can tell you that when Mrs. (assistant superintendent of human resources Sandra) Huezo begins to hear from employees that this is a difficult place to work, that it begins to affect their health … that’s what post traumatic stress is and it isn’t fair.”

Committee member Kevin O’Neill sent an email to Shinoff, copying superintendent Dr. Ed Brand, on March 4 calling the correspondence a “slap letter.”

“You were either duped or compliant in the superintendent’s heavy-handed attempts to silence any criticism from the BOC,” O’Neill wrote.

“More than one committee member expressed frustration with a seemingly headless program with no mechanism in place to judge its effectiveness. Perception became reality and this episode smacks of a ham-handed attempt to stifle and limit this group in the performance of our mandate.”

The Citizen’s Bond Oversight Committee was created to monitor the $644 million Proposition O bond expenditure, approved by voters in November 2006.

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sosocal Says:

Thu, Mar 21 2013 06:49 AM

The real story of Sweetwater is starting to become public; but as we learned that Sweetwater actually hired attorneys to "counsel" those who were speaking to the Grand Jury, aren't we all just a bit more suspicious of anything that Ed Brand and his attorney friends have to say? Honestly--and I really mean that--Fast Eddy believes in stacking the deck in his own favor, yet wants the general public to be so polite that we never mention any of his failings, flaws, lies, bullying, intimidation attempts, scheming. visible contempt for the public and considerable lack of any sort of moral compass. Takes nerve for someone of that ilk to commission this display. Another ugly moment brought to Sweetwater by the great patron, Fast Eddy Brand.

Ed Says:

Tue, Mar 19 2013 07:27 PM

Maria is well known for her legendary outbursts and pandering to La Raza and Sweetwater's Mexican Mafioso--a group of guys that Dr. brand is equally guilty of promoting. Founding fathers and members include Jorge Dominguez and Bonnie Garcia. It's time for all of them to go.

oneoftheteachers Says:

Tue, Mar 19 2013 06:10 PM

How much was the district charged by Shinoff for the preparation and presentation of the civility lesson? Maria Castilleja's feelings hurt? Give me a break! This woman routinely demands that teachers receive reprimands for questioning her incompetent decisions.She is the joke of the district, and I have never once heard one positive comment about her. Usually, after one of her decisions you hear the comment, "How did she ever get promoted to this position?" Then, you always hear the same obscene answer. True or not, the woman is the laughing stock of the district. Mention her name and people start humming the Sound of Music song, "How do you solve a problem like Maria?"

Justanotherteacher Says:

Tue, Mar 19 2013 05:14 PM

Very good to hear the whole story! From the tweets I was very confused. When I heard that he talked about PTSD from working in the district I started to think someone was finally understanding what it's like been like to teach in Sweetwater under jesus and eddie, but alas, I was sadly mistaken. They are worried about the mental health of "MC"? That was lost many years ago. I know teachers who have been DIRECTED to write apology letters to MC for hurting her feelings and implying that she is not competent and then getting letters of reprimand in their files because they questioned her. When you have exams put out by the district with incorrect answer keys, grammar and spelling mistakes throughout, and copies with cover pages from three years ago that have been thoroughly marked up by former students, then yes we do believe there is incompetence at the highest levels of the d.o. and yes that does lead to series conditions of PTSD throughout our district - by the EMPLOYEES not the ADMIN!

anniej Says:

Tue, Mar 19 2013 08:37 AM

Left out the word NOT

Perhaps if John Mccann, Jim Cartmill, and Arlie Ricasa had NOT turned over ALL Power to Ed Brand

anniej Says:

Mon, Mar 18 2013 07:09 PM

Ed Brand, superintendent of SUHSD and the majority of the board have lost their dealin' minds. They spend our hard earned tax dollars to pay for the tax payers to be lectured on civility.

Perhaps, if the majority of our board had NOT been indicted, perhaps if John Mccann had not wasted over 6 k on a frivolous TRO request against a respected commu itty member, perhaps if JOhn Mccann, Jim Cartmill and Arlie Ricasa had turned over ALL POWER to Brand, perhaps if Brand was not looking to purchase huge office building in Eastlake for a district office and land on Faivre street for a bus lot, perhaps if the MAJORITY of our schools were not in Program Improvement, perhaps if Brand were not borrowing SUHSD funds to start up elementary charter schools for K - 3rd graders who get FREE DAY CARE - then perhaps just perhaps we would not be simply disgusted with their leadership. Civil, we have been more than civil - here is a thought IF YOU CAN'T STAND THE HEAT, GET OUT OF THE KTCHEN.

sosocal Says:

Sat, Mar 16 2013 03:19 PM

We, the public, are publicly calling Brand and his henchmen on their intimidation attempts. If the information which the public is entitled to would be provided in a complete and timely fashion, no one would have to get their feathers ruffled.

However, continued efforts to stifle public input and opinions, coupled with stonewalling when the public requests information WILL lead to people being very unhappy and frustrated.

The condescending little "lecture" delivered by the attorney is merely yet another attempt to keep a very unhappy public at bay.

It will not work, because Ed Brand's universe is not the real world.

Maria C.'s feelings hurt? What about all the teachers who were just pink-slipped, while this corrupt administration, (already the proud owner of two possible sites for new district headquarters) blithely goes shopping for more property.

Egregious ego, massive arrogance, and contempt for the public, whose educational opportunities this is supposed to be about--that is what this administration is clearly demonstrating.

Loathsome, a rather archaic word, yet indicative of Ed Brand's leadership and the type of 'coordinated effort' he uses to destroy education in Sweetwater.

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