December 31, 2003

Editorial:

San Ysidro School District Should be folded into The San Diego Unified School District!

It no longer amazes or surprises us when strange things happen in the San Ysidro School District; in fact we take it as a matter of fact. The latest fiasco is the firing of Superintendent Jorge Parra, evidently, for not getting along with the majority school board members. This comes as little surprise since Parra was anointed by a single board member, without Community input or search committee. Then Superintendent Jose Torres, after only a sixth month tenure, was fired. To date he is still receiving a salary.

This isn’t the first time that the San Ysidro School Board and its superintendents had trouble getting along. The San Ysidro School District was the subject of several investigations by San Diego County Grand Juries during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. The reports were critical and recommended reforms. The 1991-1992 San Diego County Grand Jury was particularly critical, citing power struggles within the District that adversely affected its performance and victimized the children. After that for a short time the Board and its superintend got along fine, but apparently that was an anomaly.

The 1991-1992 The Grand Jury report described a “philosophical power struggle” involving the School Board, administrators, teachers and parents, saying, “The children of San Ysidro are the innocent victims”. According to this report: “administrators and teachers who do not support the majority Board position are demoted or discharged if legally possible”; “health and safety needs of children are not being met”; “playgrounds are badly maintained”; and “Non-Hispanic teachers and administrators are not afforded equal opportunities.” This report also stated that personnel actions had cost the District over a million dollars in litigation expense.

The reports also stated that in many areas the problems were outright violations of required procedures rather than simple noncompliance. There was “rampant disregard for education codes (sic)”. Special education programs were not utilized effectively. Violations were so numerous that in 1992 the State was prepared to withhold funding and take over administration of the District. The dysfunctional state of the District was evident in the low academic performance of the students. According to the 1992-1993 report, “only 24 percent of San Ysidro students achieved at minimal State norms”.

With the exception of the short time that Grace Kojima was superintendent this school district has been dysfunctional, for example failing to present its budget to County Board of Education on time for the new school year, apparently nobody on the board knew it was due. San Ysidro school district has functioned without key personnel for long stretches at a time. They have failed to follow the rules and standards of hiring outside contractors — basically this school board is incompetent.

The San Ysidro School district was incorporated in 1987 primarily because of its disassociation with the City of San Diego and because of the uniqueness of the community. We suggest that it is time that the San Ysidro schools become a part of the City of San Diego school district. Clearly this school district cannot function as an independent district. It is time to take control, of these students education, out of incompetent school board members hands, diffuse the political power struggle that goes on every day with this district and get the education of these students back on track.

It is time the City of San Diego assumes its responsibilities of the incorporation charter and take the responsibility for the education of those unfortunate children who happen to live in the San Ysidro community of San Diego. They deserve an education worthy of the City of which they are a part of. At best, a resident of San Ysidro should have a seat on the San Diego Unified school District to represent that community. 

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