Back in the 2010-2011 school year Renatta Cooper was the School Board President, and her co-pilot was a talking mule named Mr. Ed Honowitz. I mention this because in the cast of characters that follows, these two were calling the shots.
There was a great deal going on in the district. In Sierra Madre a pair of pesky parents named the Brandenburgs were asking a bunch of questions about hazardous materials that were strewn around the Sierra Middle School campus and about an ominous retaining wall that was holding back several metric tons of soil and lurking above the classroom bungalows that housed a group of preschoolers at the Sierra Madre Elementary Campus.
For more than two years the couple had been calling the PUSD hired building contractors (and who are remarkably no longer around), the Sierra Madre Fire Department, the Sierra Madre Building Inspector, OSHA, the PUSD Chief of Maintenance (also remarkably no longer around), the principals, the Board of Education and anyone else they could, in order to ensure safety for the children at the Sierra Madre public schools.
As this was occurring, a second grade teacher had been designated by the school as an "Inclusion Teacher." This is a position which generally offers more money, classroom aides, and support services. She became the Brandenburg child's teacher. She had begun her role by stating to a staff member that she was going to "fix the problem" and did so by allowing an environment of hysteria, gossip, and discrimination to fester, boil, and then explode.
When the smoke cleared enough for us - the Brandenburgs - to see, our seven year old autistic child had been petitioned out of his class by our neighbors, friends, and acquaintances. People we believed were our supports on the PUSD staff betrayed our child and family. The former Director of Special Education Elizabeth Blanco, the former Superintendent Edwin Diaz, and then current Board Vice President Ed Honowitz, along with former school Principal (and current cushy retirement recipient) Gayle Blumel, and teacher (the then teacher of the Brandenburg's son) United Teachers of Pasadena Area Director Yolanda Munoz may have all shared confidential information about the autistic child with community parents. Some of whom were on the Sierra Madre PTA and Sierra Madre School Site Council.
The ensuing storm and bullying by the Sierra Madre community is now well documented on the internet and, sadly, has been repeated in other communities across the world. However, for what it's worth, parents of autistic children and children with emotional needs and regulatory challenges have found strength in what we've gone through, and we consistently meet people who thank us for doing and saying what they are uncomfortable saying.
We have been tireless advocates for these children, and will continue to be.
The Marshall Plan
In any event, as the crisis began to unravel at the beginning of the 2010/2011 school year, we realized that the upper campus was not a safe place for our middle child due to contaminants and dust which adversely impacted his asthma. We moved him to the school his older sister attended, Marshall Fundamental. It is a middle school/high school in PUSD.
Marshall Fundamental, unlike the Sierra Madre campuses, is a gated school. This is, and has been one of our safety concerns for Sierra Madre. It is no longer a torch we carry, and I can only say that I have tried to see one built for the safety of the children from predatory adults and adult bullies. Good luck with that.
A Predator on Campus
Not that it matters much to keep away the danger from without, when there is danger from within.
Marshall also employs four security staff. I don't know if this is typical among the PUSD schools, but I assume it is because over the years there have been issues that have arisen about security.The security staff in 2014 have been very pleasant and helpful to me, as a parent.
However, in 2010/2011 there was something going on under the surface, and ended with a security guard in jail, and the sexual abuse of 16 year old girl.
On March 17, 2011 the story broke. Sort of. It got some coverage locally, but most of the information available was spotty.
Brian Charles covered the story for the Pasadena Star News (click here) -
Felony sexual assault charges have been filed against Shawn "J Silky" Johnson, a 30-year-old security guard at Marshall Fundamental School in Pasadena, according to documents provided Friday by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office …
The charges stem from a March 3 incident where Johnson sent text messages to a 16-year-old female student at Marshall and arranged a meeting outside of school, said Scott Phelps, a PUSD board member, and school board liaison to Marshall Fundamental …
"The school acted quickly to place the employee on leave and launch an investigation immediately upon hearing that there may have been improper behavior," said Binti Harvey, PUSD spokeswoman in a statement released Friday. "The matter was subsequently referred to the Pasadena Police Department, and a criminal investigation is now under way." …
While the PUSD learned of Johnson's actions on March 9, the district didn't release any information to the public until Friday.
It is close to three years later, but even now the outcome of the case is unclear. I asked a PUSD official who stated that the security employee was "Immediately put in jail when it was discovered. I assume conviction later as I think they had texts between guy and student."
Still, I was not able to find any follow up articles. I do remember when the story broke, however because shortly before it did our children came home shortly and shared that they had heard hushed whispers between students, that students were talking, and that something bad had occurred.
Though they were younger than the student, they knew who she was. They shared concerns that the girl was being talked about, teased, and ridiculed. Then the child was no longer at the school.
We made numerous calls to the school and shared our concern that the child receive counseling. We also requested a school-wide anti-bullying program be implemented immediately.
Ask and ye shall receive.
PUSD Bully Central
It was clear to us that bullying was rampant throughout the district and the immediate school communities via the internet.
We were dealing with it ourselves, with frequent pummeling leveled at us by pusddad, and a few Sierra Madre community members who changed their names more often than they wax their mustaches. That stuff was all over the Pasadena Meekly and the Sierra Madre Patch.
Those were left un-moderated because, hey, it was an entertaining bloodbath and it was driving up the web traffic of those sites. Go community based bullying!
See, the people doing the bullying were too knowledgeable about our situation to be from outside of the school community. By that I mean that they were working with our child, and/or were being fed information from an administrative level. They have never come forward to admit what they've done because now they know we will call them all out.
These are the people who set the bar for the children, and who set the example for what acceptable internet behavior looks like. Is it any wonder that the behavior transfers right back into the school.
Something to consider in the pattern of bullying. I have watched how Renatta Cooper speaks to people she doesn't like, and I can read the writing on the wall. As long as the Board President treats the Board, staff, and the outsider parents the way I have observed, that pattern of behavior can be expected to continue elsewhere in the district.
As it has toward the staff via newspaper editorials and propaganda masked as articles, so shall the cycle continue to trickle right on down to the kids.
As far as I am concerned, Renatta Cooper lacks the respect necessary to serve the communities she was elected to serve. She will never step down. I don't believe she gives a crap about any of us.
Chewin' the Fat
And remember, when all of this stuff went terribly wrong in the lives of a number of PUSD families, our Board President was Renatta Cooper, the Vice President was Ed Honowitz, and that Superintendent was Edwin Diaz. Diaz suddenly resigned on February 23, 2011 with a statement that caught many people by surprise. Not me. He was still acting superintendent as far as I can tell.
At that time, the top interest of Peter Dreier and the Pasadena Weekly was the continuing saga of the two board members that Petey helped fund. Apparently they went rogue on him. So the verbiage focused on complaints about the schism on the board. Everything was about Ramon Miramontes this, and Scott Phelps that. Not anything about this child at Marshall, though. Nothing.
And Now For Something Completely Useless
Sooner or later these quasi-political groups are going to need to stop lying to the public about their party affiliations. ACT and IIPK would like to convey the belief that they are non-partisan. That is simply untrue. Additionally, they continue to follow the lead of their nutty professor, and harbor the same passive-aggressive grudges.
Now, there is no love for the IIPK in my heart. I have a list of their steering committee and found a number of people on the list that were directly or indirectly involved in the mob mentality that targeted my child back in 2010. That apparently is OK. Only some children deserve the IIPK love, I suppose.
Anyhow, the IIPK had no updates to its bulletins after the Eight Guiding Principles spiel they ran up the Pasadena City Council's proboscis last year. Until Blow Dreier attacked Ramon Miramontes, that is. Then the venom came out fast and furious. Bam.
Not just one, but two pieces hostile toward Miramontes in one week (click here and here). Tell me this isn't an openly political group. I'll tell you that at least two of the people directly involved in IIPK were involved in what happened to my child. It was a foul-up we weren't supposed to figure out.
The saga of Ramon Miramontes’ questionable “contract” with PUSD continues, as reflected in new revelations disclosed in articles in the Pasadena Weekly and the Pasadena Star-News last week. Both the Pasadena Weekly article, “A closer look”, and the Star-News article, “Pasadena Unified School Board President halts Consulting Contract with former School Board member“, report on the controversy over an alleged agreement between PUSD Superintendent Jon Gundry and Miramontes to have the former school board member get paid as a consultant to the district soon after he left the board.
More of it can be found at the above links, but it doesn't really tread new ground. However, Since Steve Cole's public comment at the January 30th Board meeting seem to supersede the Dreier article, Miramontes may want to have his attorney take a close look at the footage to see if there are other geese to cook. Sooner or later one of them will squawk and cough up the plumpest hen in the hen-house.
In any event, a female child was assaulted at a PUSD school in 2011. Assaults on women may be so commonplace at Accidental College that it's numbed the dumb, but I again ask. Where is the outrage?
Here's the Outrage
In an essentially ignored story run last week, the now 19 year-old young woman has filed a lawsuit against PUSD. Posted by Michelle Mowad and picked up by the Altadena Patch (click here).
A young woman is suing Pasadena Unified School District and a former PUSD security guard who she alleges sexually abused her when she was a student at Marshall Fundamental High School.
The 19-year-old plaintiff, identified in the Los Angeles Superior Court complaint filed Monday as Jane Doe, alleges sexual abuse of a minor, negligence and breach of a district's mandatory duty to supervise and protect students.
According to the suit, the plaintiff was 16 when she was in the 11th grade at Marshall Fundamental High during the 2010-11 school year. The guard, Shawn Johnson, was 30 and ... In early March 2011......picked up the girl and drove her to an isolated location where he "manipulated, sexually assaulted and sexually abused her," the suit states. Instead of protecting the plaintiff, Johnson "took advantage of the minor," according to the complaint.
The complaint alleges that the PUSD negligently hired, supervised and retained Johnson. The girl confided in her father in March 2011, but did not do so earlier because of alleged threats of retaliation by Johnson, the suit states.
No monetary amount is enough, but I sincerely hope this young woman is able to teach a well deserved lesson to PUSD about the value of our most precious commodity. Apparently, it's been lost in the flotsam and jetsam.
I hope that she can find peace in her life.