EDUCATION MATTERS: Taking care of housekeeping

By Marsha Sutton

Contributor

Please forgive the smattering of odds and ends that make up the bulk of Education Matters this week. Having collected a number of follow-ups, postscripts, updates and brief items of interest in my to-do basket, I thought it best to sum it all up in one column, clean out the file and make a fresh start of it, in preparation for the next round of data accumulation.

Topping the list is an update, requested by many readers, of the investigation into the case of the Torrey Pines High School student who was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and gross vehicular manslaughter in connection with the death of fellow student Alex Capozza.

As reported, the investigation into the party the night before the crash is ongoing.

"It's still an open case [although] we don't have a lot of witnesses coming forward," said Shelley Bishop last month. Bishop is an investigator with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control's Target Responsibility for Alcohol Connected Emergencies (TRACE) unit.

Bishop returned my call Jan. 27 to provide me with an update, although it's not much. When asked how she would go about verifying the rumors that one identified individual provided the alcohol, she replied, "If you go to them [the accused] directly, it's a guaranteed 'no.' If I confront someone, I don't want to show my hand."

The teens in a position to know what happened are still not speaking to authorities on the record. And without witnesses willing to be named, Bishop said her hands are tied. She said she still plans to speak with the driver of the car, now serving time in the youth correctional facility at Camp Barrett in east San Diego County. And she has not dropped the case.

Why and why not Race to the Top

In my story that ran a few weeks ago on the federal Race to the Top (RTTT) money that the Department of Education is awarding to states that meet specific conditions for qualification, the discussion centered around the apparent lack of enthusiasm of San Diego County school districts to apply for a piece of the pie.

As noted in the story, only 14 of the county's 42 school districts signed the Memorandum of Understanding put forth by the California Department of Education.

Locally, the Solana Beach School District and the San Dieguito Union High School District did not sign the MOU, while the Del Mar Union and the Rancho Santa Fe school districts did.

DMUSD Superintendent Sharon McClain explained why her district signed the MOU. She acknowledged that there were good reasons not to sign and originally advised against it. But when she learned that the district could disengage as more information became available, she decided to counsel her board to go ahead and sign.

"If the parameters of the program still aren't clear by April when the funding is supposed to be disbursed, then I'll advise the board to back out at that time," McClain said.

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