SAUSD Update: 9th grade classes overcrowded

Looks like the cat is out of the bag, at SAUSD, as both the Times and the Register are reporting that the State Department of Education was contacted by email by someone who notified them that the district was not complying with a 9th grade class size reduction program.

According to Times reporter Seema Mehta, “When Santa Ana Unified Supt. Jane Russo called for the audit of the district’s embattled elementary school class size reduction program to also cover the ninth grade, she assured district trustees at their Tuesday meeting that no concerns had been raised about freshman classes.”

As it turned out, “the state Department of Education had notified the principal of Santa Ana High of someone’s complaint that the class size reduction policy for ninth grade was apparently being violated.”

Santa Ana High School principal Dan Salcedo told the state Department of Education that he would respond the next day. He didn’t. And apparently he didn’t tell the district about the issue.

SAUSD Trustee John Palacio had this response, in the Register, “If the district prepares these reports monthly, why don’t we address the issue as soon as we know the classes are over?” he said. “Why are we waiting until now?”

The Times quoted Palacio as well, “In the board meeting, we were told nothing was wrong with ninth grade, but we’re [expanding the audit] as the right thing to do,” he said. “Now we know otherwise.”

Isn’t it interesting that SAUSD School Board President Rob Richardson never comments on these stories? Like his ally, Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido, Richardson is never around, or on the record, when these disasters erupt.

The scope of this latest scandal appears quite wide, according to the Register, “From the start of the school year through the end of February, 55 of 401 freshman English and math classes at the district’s five high schools hovered above the state-mandated average of 20.4 students per class.”

The district stands to lose a lot of money as they receive “$204 yearly per student from the state if these high school classes are kept below an average of 20.4 students through the entire year.”

I would expect to see some heads roll at the district as the audits are completed over the next two weeks – at least that is what I would hope for. The district is teeming with overpaid, overstuffed administrators. Obviously more than one of them has been asleep at the wheel, and our kids are paying for it.

This scandal also calls into question SAUSD Superintendent Jane Russo’s ability. She has not been in place very long, but practically her entire tenure thus far has been marred by apparent corruption and district ineptitude.

The board spent a lot of time and money “searching” for a replacement for former Superintendent Al Mijares. You would think that they would have tried to hire a turnaround specialist. But instead they threw a ton of money at the inexperienced Russo – a first time superintendent with no doctorate in education. I thought at the time that the search was fixed and nothing has changed my mind about that in the interim.

At this point you have to believe that Russo’s job is in jeopardy. Quite frankly, I think the board ought to be restarting their search and this time they better be looking for someone who knows what he or she is doing. A turnaround specialist with AT LEAST a doctorate in education would be a good start.

On a related note, where is the local Latino press as these scandals continue to blow up? The last board meeting was covered only by my blog team, the Times and the Register. Where are the Latino TV reporters, La Opinion, and all the other Latino newspapers? Why are THEY asleep at the wheel? I am astounded by the lack of coverage. Latino families and children are paying the price as the district drops the ball, again and again. Why doesn’t this merit coverage from the Latino press?

Also, where are the local Latino leaders? Where are Oscar Garza, Carlos Bustamante, Miguel Pulido, David Benavides, Jose Solorio, and for that matter where are my friends from LULAC? Hardly anyone showed up at the last board meeting – and I would expect full on community outrage at this point. Is EVERYONE asleep at the wheel? I hope to see more faces at the next SAUSD board meeting. I know my blog team will be there.


Here is the list of candidates who submitted their name’s for Sal Tinajero’s seat on the SAUSD school board – why did NONE of them attended the last school board meeting? Will any of them be at the next meeting? If not, I hope they will NEVER again ask us to consider them for the school board:

  • Roland Lujan
  • Narinder Mahal
  • Patricia Olvera
  • Mark McLoughlin
  • Oscar Garza
  • Shane Barrows
  • Frances Williams
  • Yvette P. Aguilar
  • Cecilia Aguinaga
  • Ralph Arroyo

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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.