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Mayor alleges 'culture of corruption' at Ravenswood school district

School budget crisis sparks friction between East Palo Alto mayor, district

The Ravenswood City School District school board has been grappling with the specter of fiscal insolvency and has approved budget cuts that would eliminate the equivalent of 83 full-time positions. Photo by Veronica Weber.

The mayor of East Palo Alto blasted Ravenswood City School District leadership in two separate letters Friday and Saturday criticizing what he described as the district's "sneak ambush" solicitation of financial support from the City Council and alleging that district leaders have created a "culture of corruption, intimidation and coverup."

Ruben Abrica said that he learned through media inquiries about a letter that board President Ana Pulido and Vice President Sharifa Wilson addressed to him – rather than receiving the letter directly. The letter asks the City Council to invest in the Child Development Center (CDC), Ravenswood's preschool program, which will likely be taken over by the San Mateo County Office of Education as the district makes significant budget cuts to remain fiscally solvent.

The letter was dated Thursday. The district's communications consultant, Rolando Bonilla of firm Voler Strategic Advisors, said it was mailed to Abrica and the City Council late Thursday. The letter was distributed via email to the media and posted on the district's social media accounts on Friday.

Abrica, speaking as an East Palo Alto resident rather than its mayor, criticized the district for failing to provide transparency as it works to address an ongoing budget shortfall. The board last week approved more than $5 million in cuts in order to balance its budget for the next school year, including cutting 28 out of 31 positions at the Child Development Center.

"Your self-inflicted financial crisis … (does) not justify storming and ambushing the City Council to cover up for your mistakes," he wrote in a letter to Pulido, Wilson and Superintendent Gloria Hernandez-Goff on Friday.

He also faulted Hernandez-Goff in particular for failing to manage the budget, writing in the Saturday letter that her mismanagement "is what triggered the cuts so suddenly instead of collaborative planning of reductions starting three years ago.

"This is being called a 'reform' and a 'new culture,' but it's really a culture of corruption, intimidation and coverup," Abrica wrote. He stated that when Hernandez-Goff was hired in 2013, the district budget's ending balance was $8 million. Without budget cuts this coming year, the county projected the 2018-19 ending balance would be negative $3.3 million, he wrote.

The second Abrica letter, addressed to Bonilla and Pulido, included a set of questions and demanded "public clarification" of issues of concern that are circulating in the community.

Wilson told the Weekly Saturday that it "saddens" her to see Abrica taking an "adversarial" rather than collaborative stance at a difficult time for the district. She disagreed that the letter to Abrica and the council was an "ambush," saying that a parent had suggested the board seek help from the city at the district's Feb. 8 meeting.

"To imply that it was an ambush means it's something that was done sneakily, someplace in the dark," Wilson said. "It came from the community."

But other board members only learned about the district's Thursday letter after it was sent: Marielena Gaona-Mendoza and Marcelino Lopez were provided copies of the letter at a retreat Saturday morning, Bonilla said. (Trustee Charlie Mae Knight was absent.)

Wilson said she and Pulido were within their authority as vice president and president to write the letter to the city without notifying or seeking approval from the full board. It is their "responsibility," she said, to seek creative solutions to the budget crisis.

In a statement on Saturday evening, Bonilla suggested that Abrica, as a "life-long politician," is resistant to the "necessary reforms that will pull our district from the bottom of the county to the top."

"Irresponsibly ranting is not leadership; it is the sign of someone whose time has passed," Bonilla said.

Abrica also complained that documents for Saturday's retreat, the bulk of which was devoted to discussing the budget, were not posted with the meeting agenda online and thus not available for the public to review beforehand. Printed documents were made available at the board meeting. Chief Budget Official Steven Eichman told the Weekly that the documents were not available before the retreat — even to the board members — because he was still completing them on Saturday morning.

The equivalent of 83 full-time staff positions are being eliminated as part of the budget cuts. In Abrica's Saturday letter, he asked for more information about the employment of Hernandez-Goff's son, John Denos.

Denos was hired by the district in 2014 as a California English Language Development Test tester but has also helped with human-resources software implementation and database analysis, according to information provided by the district in response to a Public Records Act request filed by the Palo Alto Weekly in 2017. He is currently employed as a data quality support technician in the district office with a salary of $86,696, according to a list of district office personnel provided at Saturday's retreat. His position was not among those the board cut on Feb. 8.

In response to the public records request, the district said last year that Hernandez-Goff "has had no supervisory, managerial, or evaluative role in any aspect" of Denos' employment.

Abrica also raised numerous questions about the former Child Development Center director, who is Wilson's domestic partner. He asked for information about how the person was hired, whether Wilson voted to hire her, how much she earned and why she later quit.

Eichman presented on Saturday detailed budget documents, including a list of all positions at each school and district department, their corresponding costs and funding sources; new district positions that have been added and not filled in the last two years; and a breakdown of the district's general fund expenditures, among other information.

Some of the documents contained errors that teachers caught during Saturday's meeting, including teachers listed at campuses who teach at another site or are no longer in the position and an inaccurate number of staff absences at the Child Development Center. Hernandez-Goff said the errors were due to staff "scrambling to get all of this information together."

Eichman said he aims to provide corrected information to the board at its next meeting this Thursday, Feb 22. The board is expected to approve layoff notices for staff at that meeting.

Of the district's $47.6 million budget, about $16 million is spent on salaries for teachers and about $6.1 million on classified and certificated management positions, according to Eichman.

The board also discussed on Saturday the results of a poll conducted to gauge voters' support for placing a parcel tax and/or bond measure on the June 5, 2018 ballot. The district plans to seek renewal for a $196 parcel tax that is set to expire in June. The tax provides $1.1 million to pay for teaching positions.

The survey, which was conducted via phone and online in late January and early February, indicates that there is strong support for both a parcel tax and bond measure, though those surveyed were less supportive of an increased parcel tax.

Abrica told the board that public opinion may have shifted in response to the budget crisis and urged the district to conduct the survey again.

"I've always supported these things, but under these circumstances — you're losing the trust of the people," he told the board members.

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Comments

41 people like this
Posted by Former EPA Student
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 17, 2018 at 7:01 pm

I think that's a misleading thing for Wilson to say because Abrica has made it clear that he is willing to place the issue on the agenda. The issue is that he wants to hold the district leadership accountable for the financial mismanagement going on at Ravenswood. Instead of bailing the district out, he wants the public to continue voicing their opinions regarding the leadership at RCSD. If he were to instantly agree to helping out the CDC(which he can't because of the political process), the public would be happy and so would the district for no longer having to deal with the public.

In his first letter, Abrica says he will take Wilson's and Pulido's plea into consideration so long as the proper procedures are taken with the superintendent and board.

"When I receive those documents expressing the will of the elected leadership of the Ravenswood District I will take this issue to our agenda committee to consider placing it on the agenda of the City Council with plenty of time for the public to have an opportunity to express their opinions. Such is the public process."

Additionally, what is sneaky about the whole incident is that the letter was mailed via USPS instead of personally delivered. It should be noted that the City Council offices are but a mere 3 minute drive from the District offices. No attempt was made to email the letter either. Board member Gaona was not notified of the letter. Like Abrica, she heard of it via the "community grapvine".

The intention of mailing the letter instead of personally delivering it was to postpone Abrica's response to eliminate confrontation and his opinion in front of the public during the board meeting. As a mayor, Abrica is busy and I'm sure he doesn't always have the time to check Facebook for RCSD posts. I think the board knows that he is unlikely to read the letter before the meeting, thus making the mayor look bad for not having a timely response ready for the parents and teachers present at the board meeting. By the time he had heard of it, it was late, so he spent the whole night writing his thoughts and personally delivered his letter to the board in the morning.

It should also be noted that the financial information presented today is what is accessible or will be accessible on Transparent California. Spending in regards to independent contractors and miscellaneous school expenses were not provided. If there is nothing to hide, why don't they just release their books?


22 people like this
Posted by Wry to go Mr. Abrica
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 17, 2018 at 10:40 pm

Great Posting Former E. Palo Alto Student. You shall become a writer.
Abrica is right, Ravenswood school district is a culture of corruption including most of the board members. They are always covering up for the superintendent. The real reason for the closing of the CDC is that Sharifa's partner was involved in an investigation about an in incident with a student where she was found at fault. For that reason, Hernandez had no other choice but to fired her. However, all of a sudden Sharifa's partner decided to resigned and or retire The position was never filled as if Willson and Hernandez had.


20 people like this
Posted by Teacher
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 18, 2018 at 6:58 am

I like what I'm seeing Abrica. Come to PAUSD. We could use you.


15 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 18, 2018 at 9:27 am

Ravenswood School District has been a mess since the 70's. While there were some good teachers most were gone by the 80's and the ones that were left just didn't care. That was the same with the administration. It was more like they were running a prison than a school and they certainly did not care if the students learned anything. By they way they manage their budget I would assume that one of their graduates is in charge of their finances. It is time for the state to step in and take over the district, replace the board and administration and get things working in the right direction. Maybe they can improve the schools from the pitiful ranking they have had for the last 30+ years!


10 people like this
Posted by Way to go Mr. Abrica
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 18, 2018 at 10:26 am

Part 2
The position... as if Willson and Hernandez had already made up their minds to close the pre-school instead of improving it. This was a very good way to retaliate against whoever reported the incident to licensing. Nobody will complain about it because they could say the county has ordered us to reduce our expenses, and no one will suspect wrongdoing, but they did not count with the parents who were going to do everything they could to make sure the CDC keeps operating under the school district as it has been for the 30 + years in the city. If they really wanted to save money they should have cut Gloria's' son position, that was just opened or orchestrated to get him a job, when she found out that the HR person did not want him in his small little office (this was shared by an employee at the February 18, 18 regular board meeting; other cuts could have done on administrators, school vice principals, tinkerers, assistant superintendents.


10 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 18, 2018 at 10:51 am

Rolando Bonilla needs to remember that Abrica is a lifelong *educator*, with a master's degree in education from Stanford University.


13 people like this
Posted by Way to go Mr. Abrica
a resident of Meadow Park
on Feb 18, 2018 at 10:59 am

By the way, there is another article in the Daily Post, apparently, Ravenswood District is answering Abricas letter, but not really. Make your own judgment. The person who wrote the letter appears to be Bonilla, Ravenswoods PR. He has so many errors in his letter (if he is the one who wrote it), and they are paying him like Abrika said $100,000 and his skills are so low. I know I do, but I do not make that much money. What a way to waste their amounts of students' education money. No wonder they are in financial crisis, which by the way, Steven Eichman denies (in a Palo Alto on Line Article). They are in denial because they do not want people to be aware that they waisted more than 8 million dollars and are in red numbers.
[Portion removed due to potential copyright infringement and unverifiable content.]


31 people like this
Posted by EPA resident
a resident of Woodland Ave. area (East Palo Alto)
on Feb 18, 2018 at 12:22 pm

Wow, the superintendent's son makes more money than most teachers. Does he have a degree or any credentials? I highly doubt it. Nepotism at its best. It will be interesting to see how teachers respond to this information. Complete corruption and lack of transparency from the district.


32 people like this
Posted by Ruben’s right!
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 18, 2018 at 1:32 pm

Follow the consultant contracts for the last few years! Many former employees being hired as consultants [portion removed.] Most recently, the former controller hired as a consultant to “support” the CBO. Pay twice to do one job! While deficit spending, RCSD gave a 10 % salary increase! Fiscal suicide! Why does the Superintendent still have a job? Hires her son, pays him more than $86,000 and bypasses him when layoffs are announced! The Board is complicit and ineffectual! Need to clean house!


18 people like this
Posted by Way to go Mr. Abrica
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 18, 2018 at 4:34 pm

Ruben’s right!
Why does the Superintendent still have a job? Hires her son, pays him more than $86,000 and bypasses him when layoffs are announced! The Board is complicit and ineffectual! Need to clean house!

Hernandez still has a job because 4 board members cover for her, and think of her as a queen. Her contract will expire at the end of the school year but watch them renew it. If the community does not speak, the corruption will continue, Gloria and her son will have a job at the students' expense. [Portion removed.] Like someone said more than a teacher. This and other ways is how the money has been wasted. They hire Eichman who does not know how to do his job, so many mistakes were discover by a reading teacher right there at the board meeting while she said that she did knot knew much about Math, but could see that numbers did not match and there were people on the salary who does not even work there anymore, or whose names were not recognize. Time for them to go, if Gloria's contract gets renewed it will cost a lot of money to get rid of her. Anybody remembers Dr. Knight scandel?


4 people like this
Posted by Resident then, resident now
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 18, 2018 at 10:06 pm

I can't help but wonder what's really being negotiated here given that Abrica was present at the last RCSD board meeting to defend certain employees from being cut.
Who's job is he looking to save before saying yes? There's always more to see than what's in the horizon.

A few statements are agreeable here:
- RCSD has a history of corruption which continues today.
- Abrica has a history of not contributing to the progress in the community.

As the community continues to progress, we MUST select new leaders who represent these progressions and dispose of the ones who don't.


Like this comment
Posted by Abrica is corrupt too
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 18, 2018 at 10:19 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


6 people like this
Posted by Dietria Vinegar
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 19, 2018 at 5:17 am

It’s been like this for years.... the board is corrupt including 35-40% of the staff and teachers... it’s a circus ..... I know it first hand ... when my mom worked there and when I myself worked there... I have mad stories and bad memories to tell... it’s awful and embarrassing to had worked for a horrible district...


9 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 19, 2018 at 3:40 pm

Any aid to the Ravenswood School District should be tied to the current Administrative staff stepping down and a new School Board Election. Neither the staff or the board is doing what is right for the students.


2 people like this
Posted by Carlos Alcala
a resident of another community
on Feb 19, 2018 at 7:40 pm

I am shocked to see hollow accusations of corruption devoid of facts. Abrica should be ashamed of himself for making accusations without facts to support the accusations. Ravenswood is not the first community to be compelled to make cuts. The math is simple. Ravenswood is poor. The money it brings in is less than the cost of education. This has been a chronic problem in California education since Serrano v. Priest. Blaming the messenger solves nothing. Change the way poor districts are funded. Abrica leads nothing; he merely exploits the moment. If he were a leader, he would not cry out to shoot the messengers without fixing school finance. He is ridiculous. ChicKen little in education. Gloria Hernandez is a fantastic Superintendent of Schools. Thank you Gloria. Ignore the cheap shots.
Carlos Alcala, Chair Chicano Latino Caucus, California Democratic Party^
Title for Identification purposes only


19 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 19, 2018 at 7:55 pm

I have to disagree with Mr. Alcala. First off keep in mind that the schools in the Ravenswood district are ranked at the bottom of California schools. That does not point to anyone in a leadership rold doing a "Good job". Now factor in that the revenue coming in from property taxes has been going up significantly over the past few years, so I don't think "poor" is an accurate term. Mismanaged is more appropriate. Anyone who has had to manage a budget knows that you plan within the money you have, if possible you leave some wiggle room for unexpected expenses. What you do not do it plan to spend more than you have coming in, that is plain stupid. Unfortunately that is exactly what the Ravenswood district seems to have done, at the same time they have employed family members which if not a form of corruption, certainly gives them the taint of corruption and mismanagement.

If they are going to go to the city looking for a bail out then the city and the mayor have everyright to demanad insight into the problem and put conditions on any funding they provide, including a new superintendant and administrative staff.

And in my opinion if you cared about the education the students receive you should be demanding better leadership. I survived Ravenswood Schools many years ago. I say survived because they education was horrific, the environment was not conducive to learning and many of the teachers didn't care. I have seen nothing to indicate it is getting better (see the links below)

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Carlos Alcala
a resident of another community
on Feb 19, 2018 at 10:32 pm

Brian, I appreciate your comments. However, you make assumptions unsupported by facts. Student performance is most often related to poverty and parent participation which is difficult in poor areas. If you are denying that East Palo Alto is a poor area where school income is low then you are dead wrong. Compare the test scores and income of East Palo Alto to Atherton. The difference is not due to the Superintendent. Moreover, the current problem arises from responsible management cutting 83 jobs and not living beyond the Districts means. That is exactly what you said a responsible superintendent should do. You should be the first to applaud the Superintendent for doing what you preach.
As to corruption, hiring a family member is hardly corruption. I understand this fellow was hired through the normal process. On the other hand check your local fire departments and police departments and city halls. Nepotism is everywhere. Normal hiring processes are ignored. These institutions are overwhelmingly white because of hiring of family members. Are they corrupt throughout California? Where is the outrage to this?


16 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 19, 2018 at 10:58 pm

Carlos,

Proper management would not have seen them get into the position where they needed to let 83 people go, and then have to run to the city for a bail out. To my knowledge they have not suffered a sudden and unexpected revenue loss, have they? If you know of such an occurance please let us know. In fact I believe the property tax revenue for the district has been increasing, has it not?

As for the corruption in other departments please feel free to share specific examples. In the case of the district the example sited does stand out. A good superintendant would avoid even this sense of nepotism and favoritism, especially when terminating 83 people but keeping a child on the payroll.

I also disagree that the superintendant does not bear the responsibility for such poor results in the schools. That is their job, they are take the credit for successes and need to accept the blame for the ongoing failures. If the city decides to help bail the district out it should only do so with requirments for change and oversight.

As a former student in the Ravenswood School District I would fully support the state stepping in and taking over, they wouldn't do worse that what is already being done. You can't get lower than a 1 rating.


18 people like this
Posted by EPA Resident
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 19, 2018 at 11:06 pm

@Carlos Alcala, you seem to be a resident of Yolo County near Sacramento. Not sure how you are informed enough to have strong views on the particulars of Ravenswood Schools and its current situation, enough so to sharply criticize the current East Palo Alto Mayor (an elected official) and praise the school district's Superintendent (an employee).

If what you know amounts to "Ravenswood is poor" (as you've mentioned a couple times), that's probably not enough to figure out what's happened here and what the community should do.


3 people like this
Posted by Carlos Alcala
a resident of another community
on Feb 19, 2018 at 11:42 pm

Hello EPA resident,
My home does not limit my knowledge. I am a former National Director of Education Litigation for MALDEF and a former professor of Education Law at Berkeley. My criticisms of your Mayor address his feckless attack on a district that asked him for help. He did not help anything but shot the messenger. That is never a good idea. School budgets are made for two years in advance but depend on the Governor's budget which is beyond any district's control. Ravenswood will not be alone in the next two years. I hope its wrong but early projections are less money which will impact contract negotiations. Cities do not run this way. Your Mayor has no facts because he has no understanding of school finance. In short, he has no clothes. I have no personal issue with Abrica, but I have a strong committment to the truth. If I am wrong on any of this let me know. I am always willing to learn. I know I am not always right, but this is not one of those times. Good luck.


2 people like this
Posted by Carlos Alcala
a resident of another community
on Feb 19, 2018 at 11:59 pm

Brian I am glad you asked for examples of Nepotism. I am not exempt from being factual.

Nepotism and Fraternization - AELE Law Enforcement Legal Center
www.aele.org › Publications Menu › Seminar Information
Nepotism and consanguinity refer to employment preferences for relatives. It is not uncommon to find, in larger police or fire departments, the employment of fathers and sons, uncles and nephews, brothers and sisters, and even husbands and wives. Cronyism refers to preferences given to friends or their children, fellow ...

Nepotism is no way to staff a fire department - Los Angeles Times
www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-lafcd-20141028-story.html
Oct 27, 2014 - The report brings to mind the nepotism in the city of L.A.'s Fire Department, where 1 in 4 applicants picked for a recent academy class were relatives of department members. Family members apparently got a leg up in the city system because they were in the information loop: They knew to get their ...

I also taught Employment Law at Berkley. Nepotism is a societal problem n safety jobs.


9 people like this
Posted by dejiii
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 20, 2018 at 8:04 am

dejiii is a registered user.

To be honest, been hearing problems about
poor education policy, poor attendance, poor
investments, no money, closing of schools and
limited athletic programs AND their own miss-management
since 1971.....
RAVENSWOOD DISTRICT YOU BORE ME NOW..... 47 years.

This woe is me stuff, long over and done with...

Look around. Every other school district and neighborhoods
from Santa Cruz to Eureka have essentially improved and grown
with the flush times.... Ravenswood continues to remain mired in fail.
III


12 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto neighbor
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 20, 2018 at 11:19 am

I sadly must agree with Brian that the Ravenswood District leadership and board have been grossly inept throughout the past 25 years. It’s heartbreaking to see the price bring paid by generations of students in the Ravenswood District due to poor teachers and administrators, lack of vision and leadership, and a constantly revolving door of both teachers and principals. The contrast in the quality of education being offered to K-8 students in EPA and Palo Alto should be illegal.


9 people like this
Posted by SP
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 20, 2018 at 11:24 am

It's time to shutter the district. As others have pointed out, over 40 years of corruption and mismanagment. But, more importantly, its simply the numbers.

The Ravenswood District's average teacher salary is around $60K. Menlo Park and Palo Alto are more than $90K, despite per student spending being about the same. We know that teachers in the affluent districts are struggling to find housing, how much more for Ravenswood teachers? Ravenswood will NEVER attract significant teacher quality because of this. That is why most teachers in the district only stay 2 years.

On top of that, Goff has publicly said that the district has around $200M in deferred maintenance. Add shrinking enrollment, and its easy to conclude that future outcome for the children of the district will decline if we keep doing the same thing.

In a comparison of Tinsley transfer children performance, Menlo Park schools outperformed Palo Alto schools. Its time to cancel the Tinsley Transfer program, and have the Menlo Park district annex the Ravenswood district. That is the only way to have any kind of hope that our children will get equal access to the quality education children in Menlo Park have.


19 people like this
Posted by Way to go Mr. Abrica
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 20, 2018 at 11:30 am

@ Carlos Alcala, you say: Abrica should be ashamed of himself for making accusations without facts to support the accusations... Gloria Hernandez is a fantastic Superintendent of Schools... he would not cry out to shoot the messengers without fixing school finance... Thank you Gloria. Ignore the cheap shots.

First of all, you are unqualified to know what kind of superintendent Gloria has been in our district. You do not have students in our district, you do not work in the district and you do not know how things were financially in this district before Gloria came. We had 8 million dollars and she came throw away students' funds.
[Portion removed.]
The fact that you do not live here and know what is going on in our district which is far away from your home, but you live close to Hernandez former job that she had before she coming to work in our district and destroy it, tells me that she has contacted you and begged you to please post something in her favor. She has also called others, but she knows that you posting will hold more weight because of your political and professional title. Carlos open your eyes and realize that you are being used by her, and you are making a fool of yourself speaking on her behalf when you do not have the facts of what kind of job she is doing in our district (this is exactly what you are saying about Abrica) You probably knew her in Sacramento, where she did not do so good either, but in Ravenswood, she is doing a lot worst, and she thought that parents will not wake up and realized that she has been waisting our students' funds and the academic scores has remaind low for the last years. Gloria does this all the time when she feels like she might end up having no job. She talks to employees, and orders them to come to board meetings to speak positive things on her behalf if they do, she gives them a raise, and if they don't, she adds them to the reduction list. Employees are afraid of retaliation because she holds the power to fire them or to keep them. How can Gloria be a good superintendent? Again you do not have the proper knowledge to give an opinion because you do not have the facts.
Thanks Brian for standing up to Carlos in a very educated way. Without offending anyone and with facts. I love when you say Carlos
hat does not point to anyone in a leadership role doing a "Good job". Now factor in that the revenue coming in from property taxes have been going up significantly over the past few years, so I don't think "poor" is an accurate term. Mismanaged is more appropriate.
You are right, in the past, we had low scores, but houses were being sold at a very low price, now houses went up so high that regular people cannot buy them, only millionaire and this only means more money for our district. Also the parcel tax, the bond, and Facebook donations that former superintendents did not get, and even like that our former superintendent was able to live 8 million dollars in reserve, and Hernandez spent it in such a little time. How can you Carlos say that Hernandez is doing a good Job? Please come to our district ask for the documents that point to Hernandez' mismanagement of funds. Talk to teachers, parents and the community. What makes you think that Abrica shall come and rescue the district as if he was God or a Millionaire (without following the legal procedures, and putting some contingencies on the contract?
Again, Thaks you Bryan keep up the good work. I like what you say in your postings, and no one asked you to post, you are doing it because you know the facts.


22 people like this
Posted by EPA Resident
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 20, 2018 at 12:44 pm

@Carlos Alcala - thanks for the explanation. So it sounds like you have no particular knowledge of the Ravenswood situation or how they got where they are - you just know "Ravenswood is poor." Why are you even chiming in then? How do you know that the Superintendent is "fantastic"? Are you friends or supporters with some of the parties?

Partisan support and hidden personal interests have certainly contributed to the situation in Ravenswood. We need less of that, not more.


28 people like this
Posted by Ravenswood Teacher
a resident of another community
on Feb 20, 2018 at 2:07 pm

I have been a teacher in Ravenswood for 15 years. First off, we, the teachers, have some dedicated, loving, highly qualified teachers WHO CHOOSE to stay in this "dysfunctional" school district because we love the kids and families of East Palo Alto!
Ravenswood teachers are hired instantly by other surrounding districts because they know a RAVENSWOOD TEACHER WILL DO THE WORK!

Next, last year the teachers union of Ravenswood, RTA, circulated a petition of no confidence asking for the Hernandez-Goff to resign. Over 140 teachers signed that petition. The teachers do not support her or the board. The messages coming from the DO are in the similar style of the Trump administration. You cannot tell what is real or "fake news".

Lastly, this incredibly sad situation has brought a lot of fear and sadness to the children, families, staff, and teaching staff at all sites. It's imperative we have members of the EPA community, Ravenswood, and other vital stakeholders go to the RCSD board meetings to speak up, ask questions, and hold Hernandez-Goff and the school borad accountable.

As she has been in the district, she has caused major tension with all school site employees( site administrators, teachers, paraeducators, and school staff). She and the board are a disease to the district.

It's time for the "new Ravenswood" to get rid of these terrible DISTRICT Leaders (Board, Hernandez-Goff, Eichman, Ghysels, Morales-Ellis, and Woods).


16 people like this
Posted by RCSD Alumni
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 20, 2018 at 2:47 pm

I attended RCSD for 8 years, including the Belle Haven CDC. I have always kept up with news about Ravenswood, from its past (current) corruption cases, to deficits, to superintendents, to ahhhh, big money being given to the district! Where is the money from the tax parcel I voted yes on, where is the Facebook donations given to this school, and other local fundraisers that have raised money for this district? I am in agreement with mayor Abrica how inefficient the current school district is and how it's been for a really long time. It is a poor district, so get an official accountant to keep tabs on the budget! I am in support of moving my former school, Belle Haven, out of this corruption, and moved to where it really belongs: in the hands of Menlo Park CSD. As a higher education professional, with a master's degree, I am grateful for my teachers who did the best they can in this school district climate, but being ill-prepared for college is not easily forgotten!


14 people like this
Posted by Way to go Abrica
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 20, 2018 at 3:32 pm

To Ravenswood Teacher
I agree with you 100%. We need new blood in the administration and board members and I hope this happens soon. Hopefully, the community and teacher s parents will join forces to get rid of Hernandes in order to improve Ravenswood or recover from this financial crisis. Things will not bet better in this district if she stays and continues to do the kind of job she is doing. She is very good at asking for donations to everyone and loves to cause pitty by telling people that our district and families are poor so she can get more donations. We cannot let the board members renew Hernandez contract, otherwise, things will get worst and will cost the district a log of money to get rid of her. This money will come from students funds which at this time is in red numbers. Time to protest in front of Sharifa's and Anna's Pulido's home these board members are the ones who tell what to do, and other's do as they wish as if they were puppets. Time for them to suffer the consequences of covering for the superintendents' misuse of the money. Someone powerful to ask the board members to do an investigation on Hernandez to find out how she spent the 8 million dollars.
;l


9 people like this
Posted by Say what??
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 20, 2018 at 4:32 pm

"provided copies of the letter at a retreat Saturday morning, Bonilla said."

Where was this held and how was it paid for????


17 people like this
Posted by EPA Teacher
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 20, 2018 at 5:35 pm

@Carlos Alcala

The legal procedure to hire John Denos (superintendent’s son) was not followed. I know this because I wanted to apply for the position which was posted on Edjoin, but a former staff member at HR told me not to bother because John Denos was already working there, and the post on edjoin was just a formality.


10 people like this
Posted by Way to go Abrica
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 20, 2018 at 6:07 pm

To Say What?
The superintendent, most of the board, and Bonilla do not really know what a retreat is. They call a special Board meeting a retreat. That is all what it that was. They want to call it that so it looks good in front of people. So the special board meeting did not cost anything because it was not really a retreat, but a board meeting.
To
IT is not the first time I heard about the way Denos was hired. Also, Ms. Woods had a big raise after she allowed Glorias son to work in her department after an employee Gloria was forced to take her son out of HR, but it is costing him his job. After working for more than 30 years. Therefore, I believe what you say. You shall come and speak at the board meeting, the truth needs to be exposed. If you are still working for Ravenswood and you are not in the reduction list, do not speak up or you will kick out, just like others. Hernandez retaliation has no end.


5 people like this
Posted by Say what??
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 20, 2018 at 6:17 pm

@Way to go Abrica-

Thanks for the clarification. For a second I thought the 'retreat' was held at a property owned by Dr. Charlie Knight. I figured she may have found a loophole where she could bill the school district for the use of the venue!!!

She wouldn't do that, would she? Or has she????


9 people like this
Posted by Ravenswood Parent
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 20, 2018 at 8:44 pm

[Portion removed.] Hope board members do their jobs to protect our student's education and the budget. At this time they are not doing it. They have become friends because the superintendent has hired their relatives. So they approve anything she suggest, even if it is a crazy idea. They have become rubber stamp and the super knows it. They never ask any good questions or express concerns about the superintendent proposals. May be is time for them to go.


9 people like this
Posted by Ruben’s right
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 21, 2018 at 6:45 am

To those who post asking where the $8 million


Year after year, the District overspent and consumed the reserve balance. Where was the outrage when RCSD gave a 10% increase it couldn’t afford? Who complained when year after year, RCSD overspent its revenue? Look at Consultant Contract handed out, often illegally, to former employees! Gloria has been doing this with full Board support!


10 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 22, 2018 at 2:40 pm

Carlos Alcala - is this you - unable to practice law now in Calif? It is this a different Harvard and Texas educated attorney of the same name?
Web Link


11 people like this
Posted by Way to go Abrica
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 23, 2018 at 6:22 pm

Carlos after our last comment you went silent. You probably the one who cannot practice law anymore. No wonder you are supporting Ms. Hernandez. All of a sudden you ran out of things to say about Ms. Hernandez. This is the kind of people who support Hernandez. Gloria your plan failed, the person you asked to speak on your behalf is as crooked as you are. Tried somebody else who is more credible. Gloria, please accept you have been defeated and you are not going to win this time, even if most of the board members support you. Our community, parents, staff want you out and please take with you all the staff that got promotions or raised, and do not forget your son. He is not welcome in our district either. Gloria, you were dumb, you had a good job for you and your son, and you did not appreciate. You went too far this time. If I was you I will go out with dignity. It will be ugly if employees get at the district door and do not let you get in, as it happened before to Dr. Night. I think you have underestimated our community and parents power, who are the ones who pay your salary to make sure students achieve academically and to take care of your budget not to spend it. Your lies and fake tears did not move us this time. Take your corruptness somewhere else. Shoo, shoo, shoo.


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Posted by Why?
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 3, 2018 at 11:04 pm

PROCLAMATION
THE CITY OF EAST PALO ALTO
HONORS THE LEGACY OF
DR. CHARLIE MAE KNIGHT

WHEREAS, Dr. Charlie Mae Knight began her distinguished career in education as an
elementary school teacher in Blakely, Georgia, and
WHEREAS, in Monterey California she served as counselor and teacher and continued her
studies earning a Masters from the Monterey Institute of International Studies and a
Doctorate degree from Nova University, and
WHEREAS, Dr. Knight served as Associate Superintendent with the California Department
of Education, as Trustee of Compton Community College, and as Superintendent of
Lynwood Unified School District and from 1985 to 2003 as Superintendent of the
Ravenswood City Elementary School District, and
WHEREAS, Dr. Knight is a charter member of the California Association of Compensatory
Education, Co-Founder in 1993 of the California Association of African American
Superintendents and Administrators, and served as President of the National Alliance of
Black School Educators from 1996 to 1998, and
WHEREAS, in 2005 Dr. Knight established the Knight Foundation to provide housing for
public servants and the needy, and
WHEREAS, in November of 2014, in a resounding victory, she was elected by the voters of
East Palo Alto and Belle Haven to the Board of Trustees of the Ravenswood School District,
overcoming a smear campaign and the active opposition of the majority of incumbents and
the new Superintendent, and
WHEREAS, Dr. Knight has continued her strong and consistent support of the East Palo
Alto Senior Center Inc., and of all seniors in the community.
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that I, Ruben Abrica, Mayor of the City of East
Palo Alto, and on behalf of the City Council, hereby honor Dr. Charlie Mae Knight for her
pioneering work and distinguished career in education and as a public servant dedicated to
the betterment of the East Palo Alto community.
Dated: November 14, 2017


3 people like this
Posted by "Welcome to Ravenswood"
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 5, 2018 at 1:45 pm

"Welcome to Ravenswood", that's what the teachers tell each other when something absurd comes from the district office. The general public is finally learning about what parents, teachers and administrators have, unfortunately, known for years.

Hiring an expensive PR consultant to help you sell a New, broke(n), Ravenswood to the community while asking Mayor Ruben for money to run the CDC is an example of something absurd coming from the district office.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 7, 2018 at 8:47 am

School systems in the state are now a mystery to me. Here the word "corruption' is used by the press for EPA. And in Santa Clara County we have the Alum Rock School District that is in the middle of a giant scam related to the construction bond issue that gets a weekly write-up in the papers. A construction contract issued to a SOCAL company that is not performing on the job and is being sued by multiple school systems for lack of performance. This is all taxpayer money that is partially allocated across the state by Sacramento? I no longer understand what the state is responsible for at the top level vs the county vs the city. And in PA it appears that the school system operates with no regard to the city in general - it appears to operate within it's own beauacracy with a very strong teacher's union at the state level. And Charter Schools are interjecting into the system further scrambling who is in charge. Can someone point to how the state in general functions to provide guidance on how to operate a school system? And how taxpayer money gets allocated across the state? In PA we have a specific item in the property tax that is directed to PA schools - I am assuming that is uniform across the board but may be wrong here.


1 person likes this
Posted by resident
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 7, 2018 at 9:25 am

Going onto the State of California - Department of Education we find Tom Torlakson as the state superintendent of schools. What did we vote for him to do? I do not get why in Santa Mateo County you would have different pay rates for teachers or requirements for employment for the different school districts. This state has an accountability problem across the board. And throwing money at it is not the answer. The county legal team should go in and figure out how the county as a whole is operating and root out any diversions from policy. In Santa Clara County the county legal team is attempting to root out the Alum Rock School District problems but they are fighting it tooth and nail. There has to be a hierarchy of personnel and delegation of responsibility at each level - the union be dammed.


Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 7, 2018 at 10:05 am

So now we have ads for the Superintendent of Schools on TV and the individual is using the Trump name - anti-Trump to sell his credibility and ability to do the job.
If you go to the State web site is obvious that this state has a huge problem and it is a result of the existing status quo. DT has nothing to do with the current quagmire - our current congressional group in Sacramento has that nailed down. Before any election takes place we all should be nailing down how this whole situation exists and if it is compliant with the current state guidelines or every school district is free wheeling it and do what they want. More of the same is not going to work.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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