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Brand is Back Again Allison K. Sampité-montecalvo | Sat, Sep 29 2012 12:00 PM

Dr. Ed Brand is in his third round as the Sweetwater Union High School District's superintendent. Following a seven-hour closed session meeting at the district administration building Monday, the board voted 3-2 to award him a two-year, $252,000 annual contract.

The decision comes after his resignation Aug. 31 following a one-year contract with the district ending June 30. His first day back was Tuesday.

Retired teacher Fran Brinkman asked why the board would keep Brand when he left the district after a 10-year run in 2005 on the heels of a grand jury investigation.

“What a nightmare this is,” Brinkman said Monday during public comment. “That you could consider hiring a man who is on a spending frenzy … a man that lifted boundaries without your vote...”

The new contract upset but didn’t surprise critics, which include dozens of parents, teachers, community members and some students disappointed with the way Brand has run the district.

Board President Pearl Quinones and trustee Bertha Lopez opposed the contract, which they called lucrative — consisting of a $750 monthly stipend for mileage, 28 paid vacation days, and a potential buyout of his remaining contract if he’s terminated before the two years are up.

“I cannot morally justify giving him this is kind of contract in these times,” Quinones said. “We’re down to the bare bones.”

Lopez agreed.

“What I’m mostly irritated at is that our students, teachers, classified and everyone that works in the district received furlough days and they made the sacrifice during this lean, economic time and yet they gave them a very lucrative contract,” she said.

Increase in Mello-Roos for Chula Vista’s east side, approximately 7,000 iPads for seventh graders, severe cuts to teachers and programs and impacted classrooms are at the center of issue.

“I believe our vote last night memorialized what we unanimously agreed to in December 2011, which was a three-year contract offer,” Trustee Jim Cartmill said. “…Right now, it really is a crisis mode because of the budget. And unfortunately that is the driver behind many of the decisions we’ve been forced to make.”

Despite Cartmill and Brand saying the board was set to vote in December, Quinones said that wasn’t the case.

“We never said we were going to vote in December,” she said. “There was never a 5-0 on that. We never got to meet.

We said we would talk about it and discuss the situation.”

Cartmill said Brand has helped increase enrollment.

“The district is up 650 students … because of his creative educational initiatives for students,” he said.

However, Lopez and others say it’s created a scheduling nightmare.

“This impacted the schools being overcrowded, students not having enough time to eat lunch and teachers having more than 40 students in their classes,” she said.

Lopez said Tuesday that a search should have occurred.

“My 37 years in public schools and my experience as a board member in another district for 10 years lets me know that this is not a standard practice,” Lopez said. “No posting, no search process and no interviews is not the right thing to do.”

Monday night, speakers urged board members not to rehire Brand.

“I’ve been watching you for two years and I don’t understand why you’re not making decisions within the best interest of the kids,” Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee member Bernardo Vasquez said. “What I’ve seen in the last 16 months is that Ed Brand doesn’t have it in him to do what’s right.”

Long-term district teacher Melanie Morton said her initial faith in Brand is now gone.

“We had high hopes for Dr. Brand, but to put it mildly, he has failed,” she said. “…If you hire Brand tonight expect an ongoing fight.”

Prior to the meeting, critics of Brand called a news conference.

Committee chair Nick Marinovich questioned Brand’s decision to buy the iPads.

“How are they going to be maintained?” he posed the question during the news conference. “What if they break?”

Vasquez discussed the issue of Brand’s decision on Mello-Roos, saying that $68 million of it was used for administration costs.

 “What we’re starting to believe is that Ed Brand is not willing to answer to his decisions that he’s made,” he said.

Cartmill said that increased Mello-Roos is a reality he signed up for when he purchased his home.

“Now that we have a complete management team as far as a facilities director and finance, we’re gonna be able to get the data that the community is requesting concerning Mello-Roos and whether it was appropriate,” Cartmill said.

Going forward, Quinones said Brand should meet with the public concerning issues in the district.

“I think it’s important that he meets with the community and explains why those decisions were made,” she said.

“They have a right to know.”

Lopez said a rocky roads lies ahead for Brand.

“The teachers have spoken,” she said. “The bond oversight committee has spoken. The Eastlake community has spoken and he’s gonna have a tough challenge bringing them all together to try and prove that his leadership is the right one for the district,” Lopez said.

Cartmill said it’s a matter of getting everyone on the same page.

 “I’m hopeful that we can start a healing process with those that were opposed to Dr. Brand’s appointment and begin to move forward.”


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anniej Says:

Thu, Oct 04 2012 08:27 PM

my personal opinion - brand and the other 4 are in it for THEMSELVES. rather than focusing on education they have chosen to use their positions.

a jury of their peers will take care of ricasa and quinones - no doubt mccann will step up and attempt to place all blame on them. but many in the community believe they know the truth and that neither mccann or cartmill belong on this board. neither have ever explained those campaign contributions have they? the legacy brand will leave will no doubt be a self embarrassing tribute.

sosocal Says:

Tue, Oct 02 2012 03:40 PM

If Brand wanted to maintain at least a semblance of honesty, he would have provided for one (1) calendar month of work for no pay. But, of course, he really had no intention of living up to his word. The man has no qualms about lying and misdirecting the public. What sort of people would want to hire someone like this? Those who have lost their moral compass, that's who.

Justateacher Says:

Sun, Sep 30 2012 05:17 PM

Brand is a fraud and the board is a fraud. Someone needs to investigate the fact that his resignation was not announced until every bargaining unit voted on taking a substantial paycut. Had we seen that letter of resignation we would have quickly been able to figure out that he would be offered a lucrative contract. Instead he continued to pretend, even speaking to SEA rep council and saying that it was important for the board to conduct a thorough search. We bargain "in good faith" and since clearly the district withheld critical information I believe all agreements should be considered null and void and new negotiations should begin immediately.

sosocal Says:

Sun, Sep 30 2012 12:31 PM

"Brand is Back" like the proverbial bad penny that you just can't get rid of...

"Brand is Back" after his self-indulgent and dishonest hiatus--what an example of how NOT to behave on the job.

"Brand is Back"--and just why did he not want that physical exam that all other employees are required to get prior to being insured? High blood pressure and related issues? I've heard that dishonesty can do that to a person.

Ed Brand may well have been able to manipulate his way so far, but--the public is wiser, even the students are aware of the less-than-stellar example he gives.

Nichole Sellers Says:

Sun, Sep 30 2012 12:03 PM

Mr. Cartmill,

Healing cannot begin until you start regarding the voice of the community. I thought the conversation we had prior to this vote may have had some impact. I even thought the vote of no confidence from the bond oversight committee, followed by another vote of no confidence from the community would solidify your opinion. It is sad that neither did and you still voted for this contract.

Your actions, and the actions of John McCann and Arlie Ricasa have only poured salt into an already festering wound.

Healing cannot begin until you rip off this Brand-aid and clean the district with honesty, tranparency and fiscal responsibility.

anniej Says:

Sun, Sep 30 2012 08:37 AM

jim cartmill needs to understand something, the page that he, mccann, brand and ricasa are reading from IS NOT GOOD FOR THE STUDENTS.

information (2003-2004) links brand and cartmill in a proposed loan that brand was noted to be making to cartmill - WHY, WHY ARE THESE TWO INVOLVED IN ANY BUSINESS OTHER THAN DISTRICT BUSINESS???????? brand lends cartmill money and then cartmill turns around and votes on brands salary? not right, simply not right. a conflict of interest in many eyes.

sosocal Says:

Sat, Sep 29 2012 11:32 AM

A few things will need to take place before healing begins, Mr. Cartmill.

Would you care to take a wild guess?

How about a forensic audit of Sweetwater's finances going back at least 5 years?

When that is done, let's make sure all the dots are connected and we know who the great beneficiaries have been, because we know it hasn't been the students or the teachers.

Once all the wrong-doers have been found out and punished--we will need to bring in some people with an active and accurate sense of right and wrong.

I am thinking that Brand will be long gone by that time.

With any luck, the district will have been able to send him away, in such a way that he would not be in a position to inflict himself and his greed on students and teachers anywhere, ever again.

Then, healing can begin.

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