|The current CVESD Superintendent,
Lowell Billings, was one of the eleven
principals who worked at the school
during the past eleven years. Billings
was so weak (or so uninterested) that he
went along with whatever these teachers
wanted. Despite this, Billings accepted
an award from the California Association
of Bilingual Educators in 2007. Perhaps
the award is best explained by the fact
that Bertha Lopez, a board member of
CABE, is also a board member of
CVESD. CVESD board members
apparently appreciate the way Lowell
Billings has kept quiet about their
|Here is yet another "inappropriate"
document. The teachers who controlled
the school felt they could not tolerate
|Many Castle Park Elementary
teachers were livid when the
idea of a bilingual program
was introduced during the
1993-4 school year.
1. Staff discussions were so out of control
that James Barron Stark was hired to teach
the teachers how to conduct a staff
meeting without yelling.
Unfortunately, the angry teachers just became
passive aggressive instead of openly
aggressive. They took out their anger on
bilingual teachers and bilingual kids.
2. During the following six years, these
angry teachers instigated the dismissals of
two bilingual teachers in a school with only
four bilingual positions.
3. Angry teachers also refused to team
with bilingual teachers.
Luci Fowers was the sole English-only teacher
who was willing to team.
Kathy Bingham, Nikki Perez, Jo Ellen Hamilton,
Linda Watson and Richard Denmon all
refused. As a result, bilingual students were
spending 100% of their academic instruction in
classes that were 100% Hispanic. When I
mentioned the Civil Rights Act to my grade
level colleagues and the principal, Linda
Watson laughed, making clear that she
thought that I was being silly, and the Civil
Rights Act was of no importance at Castle Park
Elementary. Later someone overheard the
principal telling Richard Denmon that he had
to team. He told her clearly that his grade
level would not do it, and she dropped the
When Rae Correira came to the school to try
to initiate teaming, she was transferred by
Richard Werlin from her position at the district.
Maura Larkins' students were damaged when
she was removed in the middle of the year and
replaced by a substitute who hadn't even done
her student teaching and didn't speak Spanish.
(see bilingual program below)
|The small group of governing teachers,
which consisted of one lower-grade
clique and one upper-grade clique,
didn't always agree among themselves
about academic issues. But they
always agreed about one thing: no one
from outside the ruling group was
allowed to have any input into how the
school was run.
|What motivated some teachers at Castle Park
Elementary to get rid of Maura Larkins?
There was more than one reason.
|Maura Larkins was an enthusiastic supporter
of the Comer program, a model of
decision-making in which everyone is
theoretically allowed to speak, but voting is
The problem started when a majority of
teachers voted to end the "Kingdoms"
cross-age support groups, but a small group
of teachers who controlled the principal and
the site council countermanded the decision.
Larkins worked very hard to initiate and
maintain the Kingdoms program, creating,
with the help of one other person, 500 name
tags for the children for the first day. The
plan of the chairman of the "Peace
Committee," which was in charge of
Kingdoms, was to read 500 names out loud
on the first morning of the program, while
500 students from kindergarten through
sixth grade sat or stood on the asphalt
Larkins was concerned that the Comer
program was being used in a way that
subverted its purpose, allowing arbitrary
decisions by the "SPMT," or site council,
without input from parents, teachers or
students. Also, SPMT members had been
appointed rather than elected, a violation of
Larkins liked Kingdoms, but disliked the
abuse of the Comer program, which had cost
$20,000 for training.
Larkins Kingdoms program be discussed
openly. When Larkins tried to open a
discussion by creating the program
evaluation sheet below, the teachers who
controlled the school became angry.
|The Comer program
|Teacher Kathy Bingham demanded that
principal Gretchen Donndelinger summon
Maura Larkins to the office and defend
herself. The principal, as usual, did exactly
as she was directed, including rushing to the
teachers lounge and writing a notice on the
white board telling teachers NOT to respond
to the document.
Several other independent-minded staff
members were ejected from Castle Park
Elementary by the controlling group,
including Heather Smith, Heather Coman,
and Luci Fowers. The group chewed up and
spit out a long list of principals, as well. The
school has had eleven principals in the past
|Teachers who wrote documents like
this one were not tolerated
|Bilingual Program contd.
|* * *
|Public Records Requests
|Payments to Shinoff
Judge Ahler OAH
Is Shinoff or Mark
Bresee to blame?
pages 138 -
Errata and signature