Category archives for: Education Matters

Pushing boundaries

Marsha Sutton

Few issues cause parents more distress than changes in school boundaries. Who can forget the tumult when in 2002 the Del Mar Union School District moved hundreds of families from one attendance area to another? Resentment still lingers, 12 years later.

The San Dieguito Union High School District created its system of boundaries nearly 18 years ago that has worked well over time – until now.

No blame game on illegal student fees

Marsha Sutton

It would be easy to assume, after the last few columns, that the staff at the San Dieguito Union High School District deserves condemnation.

Recent stories highlighting what may be unlawful student fees have been critical. The schools’ nonprofit foundations have not always followed the rules, the district dropped the ball by improperly charging for graduation attire, and district policy to charge students for parking privileges is being challenged.

What were once requests for money have over the years escalated into a sense of entitlement. Topping everything was the property tax bill overcharge debacle last fall.

High school student parking fees under scrutiny

Marsha Sutton

At $40 annually per vehicle, the San Dieguito Union High School District collected over $77,000 in fees this year from students for campus parking permits.

With an overall budget this year of about $107 million, $77,000 may seem insignificant. But there’s a principle at stake here, says Sally Smith, a San Diego attorney and relentless crusader for equal access in public education.

Illegal fees collected for cap-and-gown; refunds owed

Marsha Sutton

Parents who paid for caps and gowns for their graduating high school seniors this year are owed a full refund, the San Dieguito Union High School District has determined.

Because the district did not make it clear that caps and gowns could be provided at no charge, SDUHSD is now forced to offer refunds to anyone who purchased the attire and does not wish to keep it.

News for high school athletes and graduating seniors

Marsha Sutton

In her fight to ensure fair and equal access for all public school students in California, Sally Smith is a champion for those without a voice and Public Enemy #1 to those who view her as a destructive force in public education.

Smith is a doggedly determined attorney who began her pursuit to eliminate improper fees in public schools in the San Diego Unified School District where her children attended school.

A vote for decency on the county school board

Marsha Sutton

A lawyer once told me he would rather defend rapists and murderers than dive into the ugly world of education politics. Although joking (sort of), I take his point.

Having written about education for the last 18 years and suffered more than my share of abuse for the positions I have espoused, I vowed never again to enter into a debate about the merits of one candidate over another for school board seats.

Property tax bill error: what happened, what next

Marsha Sutton

Following last week’s column on the property tax bill error caused jointly by the San Dieguito Union High School District and the county of San Diego, left unsaid was how it happened and what’s in place moving forward to ensure it never happens again.

District shares blame in $7 million property tax bill error

Marsha Sutton

After hearing from staff how the district was not blameless in the property tax bill error discovered last October, the San Dieguito Union High School District’s Board of Trustees voted 4-1 at the May 1 board meeting to pay $80,000 to the county of San Diego for partial reimbursement of expenses associated with correcting the mistake.

Education Matters: Teacher training in Del Mar: In search of balance

Marsha Sutton

As a final follow-up to the recent series on professional development in the Del Mar Union School District, DMUSD superintendent Holly McClurg explained why some teachers are out of their classrooms for training more than others.

All DMUSD teachers spend two to five days a year, for three years, in Cognitively Guided Instruction staff development, she said, to prepare for Common Core State Standards which are being introduced this fall.

Education Matters: Teacher training vs. time in the classroom: How Del Mar walks the tightrope

Marsha Sutton

Part Three of a three-part series:
After all the hubbub about what some say is an excessive amount of teacher training in the Del Mar Union School District, I asked to sit in on a professional development session.

DMUSD superintendent Holly McClurg enthusiastically agreed and set me up with a session for the district’s kindergarten, first- and second-grade teachers on Feb. 10.

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