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Rally for principal Robert Moreno | Sat, Mar 01 2014 12:00 PM

Cynthia Espinosa’s daughter entered Castle Park Middle School as a seventh-grader, a year before Robert “Bobby” Bleisch was named the principal there.

She said her daughter was often bullied and belittled by staff members; as a result her grades suffered. She tried speaking to administrators on her daughter’s behalf but the problem persisted.

But after Bleisch arrived and she expressed her concerns to him, the bullying stopped and her daughter managed to raise her GPA from a 1.7 to a 3.7.

Espinosa was recently speaking out in defense of Bleisch because earlier this month the principal found himself reassigned to district headquarters after the district opened an investigation into allegations of misconduct.

The district has hired outside counsel to investigate several allegations ranging from misuse of ASB funds to bullying staff and faculty.

Some of the allegations have gone public, as those made by teacher Kris Elam who said during a board meeting that she spoke to teachers who are accusing Bleisch of sexual harassment.

Another teacher, Granger Jr. High School teacher Jennifer Cochrane-Schultz publicly accused Bleisch of being homophobic.

The school district has not said whether it was investigating sexual harassment claims, or if any harassment claims have been made.

Espinosa, however, defends Bleisch and said all the allegations made against him are false.

“I know Bobby Bleisch as a man of integrity,” said Espinosa.

Eric Chappel, another parent who put his daughter through Castle Park while Bleisch was principal, said Bleisch has changed the culture on campus.

“When Bobby came in there he set a new tone,” Chappel said. “He came in there full of energy and I saw a guy who was inspiring students to do more than what they believe they could do, which is something I hadn’t seen at that campus prior to Bobby’s arrival.”

About 35 Bleisch supporters showed up at a “Bring Bobby Back” rally in front of Castle Park Middle School on Feb. 26

Supporters held signs that read “We Love Bobby!” and “Castle Park wants our principal back now!” The crowd also chanted “Bring Bobby Back!”

One of those supporters was parent Maria Quezada, who said Bleisch turned around the worst school in the district.

“He made this a great school, it wasn’t a great school before,” Quezada said. “Kids now have good grades, perfect attendance; we were terrified to bring our kids to this school until we met Bobby.”

Quezada said if Bleisch doesn’t return to Castle Park, she would consider transferring her child out of Castle Park Middle.

Espinosa said it is other teachers that are bullying students and are resistant to the changes Bleisch has made on campus.

Chappel also said parent participation at the school has increased since Bleisch arrived on campus.

Chappel said his daughter too wasn’t succeeding academically before Bleisch, but her grades picked up once he took over as principal.

Chappel said the allegations are “a bunch of garbage and ridiculous” and said it is a smear campaign by several teacher’s who want Bleisch out of the school.

Rosemarie Murphy, a friend and supporter of Bleisch said she’s known the principal since he was a child. She said in all the years he’s known him; he’s never displayed characteristics that would describe any of the allegations.

“Whoever is making these allegations is doing it with an agenda,” she said.

Chappel said he believes in the district and has faith that the investigation will turnout in favor of Bleisch.

Chappel said it would be a “travesty” if the district doesn’t bring back Bleisch to his principal position at Castle Park Middle School.

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Cherri Tompkins Says:

Thu, Mar 20 2014 06:06 PM

Let us not blame Ed Brand. The issues at SUHSD started way before that. When John Rindone left and the Board hired that jerk that sold the computers in Tijuana, that was the beginning of the end. My children, my former husband and I are all products of SUHSD and were proud of it. Now, not so sure. It's sad.

Eric Chappel Says:

Thu, Mar 06 2014 01:55 PM

Not Patient; I agree with you, we need to be careful how we conduct ourselves and how we behave towards opposition. Our actions can set a precedence with these kids for generations to come.
What frustrates me the most about this entire situation is that many people are quick to criticize yet fail to recognize the progress that has been achieved at CPM. Expecting perfection from anyone is just setting yourself up for disappointment. The most we can hope for is progress, not perfection.

I keep hearing about the failures of Mr. Bleisch, but I hear no discussion about the progress that was made at CPM during his time as Principal. There is a lot of evidence to support this, yet few people will recognize it, why? Instead, I continue to hear people complain about the things they dislike and these allegations that have yet to be substantiated. Why not wait to make your conclusion until all the evidence is provided and the investigation is complete?

My basis of supporting Mr. Bleisch is my personal experience as a parent and the supporting data that clearly shows that CPM has improved.

What's the basis for your position?

evelation Says:

Thu, Mar 06 2014 12:27 PM

Also anniej, you mentioned the emails released were troubling. The details revealed in the investigation and by other sources about the accusers in this case, will be much more troubling.

elevation Says:

Thu, Mar 06 2014 10:20 AM

Anniej. I never said I "did not" have access to the complaints. I know far more about this issue than the information I've mentioned in the posts.

anniej Says:

Wed, Mar 05 2014 09:23 PM

Elevation: I do recall being challenged to provide facts, as I like you do not have access to the complaints. I am NOT the one who 'claimed' to have read all charges. I do NOT know the charges and I very much doubt that anyone, other than the investigator knows them ALL. It was stated on said website that ASB funds were temporarily 'used' for the Arne Duncan
visit - it is illegal to use/borrow ASB funds for such purposes.

Again I say Mr. Bleisch RESIGNED, he was not fired.

The perceived threats against those who halve allegedly filed charges, in poor taste. You call for understanding on behalf of Mr. Bleisch, yet you fail to offer the same for those who have come forward.

Allow us to focus on the students, they are after all, what SUHSD is suppose to be focusing on.

One thing for sure, this issue stands as proof that SUHSD and controversy seem to go hand in hand. How many years has this school District been the subject of one investigational report after another. Appears to go back to Brand's first tenure - when he left under the cloud of a Grand Jury investigation.

Regarding the charter again I ask why are 'public education tax funds' being used to FLOAT a private charter?

The copies of emails released to the public, typed by Mr. Bleisch, very troubling,

Not Patient Says:

Wed, Mar 05 2014 08:33 PM

A small group of people were not very "patient" about trying to destroy someone's reputation. It is not acceptable for adults to publicly shame a person using the media. "Do unto others as you would have them do to you." In a backlash to these unfair attacks, there are those who are speaking in Mr. Bleisch's defense and sharing stories of the good he has done, and for this you want people to be patient? Ironically, students in our district were recently suspended for using social media to make embarrassing claims about their teachers. How is this any different?

Eric Chappel Says:

Tue, Mar 04 2014 11:54 PM

Well, I'm going to chime in here. I agree that this matter is very complex and has a lot of layers. Unfortunately, the individuals who made the complaints failed to provide their names, thus complicating the investigation. I have always felt, that if it's worth communicating, then you should put your name to it, otherwise keep your thoughts to yourself.

My comments to Patient Says: Your statement is full of conjecture and it lacks any empirical data.
High turnover rate is NOT necessarily an indication of poor leadership. Too many factors come into play when trying to determine retention rates. It could be that some of these individuals were failing to perform and didn't like the idea of being held accountable. Could also be they just wanted a change or they didn't agree with Mr. Bleisch's plan to turn Castle Park Middle around.
Furthermore, going back six years, from a parents perspective, achievement wasn't that high and frankly the campus was not being run appropriately. This is where my involvement with the school began. It was only in the last two years that I began to have hope that these students could move forward with right tools for success.
However, I agree with you on the point of the children. Unfortunately, there are those who have acted very inappropriately, those who are using their positions to inappropriately influence students' thoughts. Honestly, I am very disappointed with the FACT that we, as adults, have not been setting a good example of how to act when we disagree with the opposition. This entire situation is a great learning opportunity for our kids, let us act appropriately and lead by example. I assure you these kids are watching.
I too await the result, I expect they will be very telling as to the depth of our problems within Castle Park Middle as well as its staff.

Elevation Says:

Tue, Mar 04 2014 09:56 PM

Again, no facts from patient when it comes to accusations about Mr. Bleisch. High turnover rate is not a sign of poor leadership. What facts back this up. Evidence in sports when it comes to the opposite. In the NFL, the Chiefs finished 2-14 in 2012. They turned over half of their roster. Last year, they finished 11-5. In 2010, the 49ers finished 6-10. They turned over half of their roster and finished 13-3.

AnnieJ is asking us not to trivialize the charge by claiming this is about a charter. This is the same anniej who posted comments on a "Bring back Bleisch" facebook page, was challenged by another to provide facts, and did not back it up. The facts are there are teachers there that are angry that they might have to move schools next year. Therefore, a "smear campaign" began. There's more evidence that favors this in the latest UT article from quotes by Lisa Burgess, who's quotes have no evidence of harassment or a hostile work environment. The only evidence that is quoted is her disagreeing with her supervisor. One can make their own conclusions by attempting to manipulate the media by "disagreeing with your supervisor."

Again, the main accusers will be the ones who will be investigated very soon, not just by a person, but by several.

anniej Says:

Tue, Mar 04 2014 07:02 PM

Allow me to remind all, Mr. Bleisch RESIGNED. He was not fired. An investigation was begun and Mr. Bleisch CHOSE to resign. While certain parties claim to have seen the charges, i find that hard to believe.

Please do not attempt to trivialize the charge by claiming this is about a Charter (private charter funded with public tax dollars?) or attempt to make villains of those who came forward.

It is a shame that controversy continues to plague the Sweetwater District - a true indication of failure of leadership.

I urge all to do their homework when vetting the candidates they intend to vote for in 2014. New Board members then new Superintendent = our schools coming OFF the States program improvement list! finally!

Patient Says:

Tue, Mar 04 2014 05:15 PM

High teacher turnover rate since Mr. Bleisch came on board is a fact. That is a sign of poor leadership. Ms. Quezada referred to CPM as the worst school in the district, but the blame for that is on the previous administration, not on the teachers. Just look at the teacher turnover rate of Mr. Bleisch's predecessor (VSJ), and you will see the beginning of what has become 6+ years of poor leadership at that school. Prior to that, CPM was a great school, for many years. Achievement was high. Campus morale, collaboration, and results were at optimal levels. Mr. Bleisch had some good ideas, and some great mentors, but was unwilling to make necessary changes. That is also a fact. The district, in all of their wisdom, have opted for an outside agency to look into the allegations. I believe the facts that come out in the investigation will be much more telling, and I, for one, am willing to wait patiently on the results. Many different people have a vested interest in this issue for many different reasons. Some are paid to care. Some have children who have benefited from this man's programs. But, at the same time, some have had children who struggled and suffered as a result of his efforts. People have also felt the sting of not "playing ball." In the end, what is the most important component in this issue? The children. Let's not lose focus on the fact that we (the community) need to do what is best for the students. I am patient enough to wait, as long as it is in the best interests of the students.

West Side Says:

Tue, Mar 04 2014 11:38 AM

Elevation and Sosocal make excellent points. It is important that we seek out parents and their opinions. I hope there will not be a campaign to discredit the three parents who came forward to speak. Mr. Bleisch has been effective in helping students reach their full potential, and Sosocal is right in that this issue is complex and has many layers. No one is perfect, and if everyone's email inbox was inspected for poor judgement, I'm sure we could find something on every single employee in the district. Unfortunately this legitimate fight against opening a charter school in our district, turned into personal attacks and exaggerated claims. If we allow this to happen to Mr. Bleisch, then who is next? Everyone deserves due process.

Elevation Says:

Mon, Mar 03 2014 10:27 PM

Bigger issues? So where are the facts? No one has come forth with facts.

Believe me, there are much bigger issues with the accusers in this case that need to be investigated.

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