Inside the Temecula Valley Unified School District’s administrative compound, full-scale panic has set in. As we’ve reported previously, TVUSD officials have been showing signs of cracking, with public displays of erratic behavior and questionable judgment. This past Thursday, a 3,040 word manifesto from Chris Check, a TVUSD administrative staffer, was sent via TVUSD email to all school board members, District staff members, and school employees. Check, who fortunately is retiring at the end of the current school year, is a direct report of TVUSD Special Education Director Kim Velez, who is already facing a mother lode of legal issues.
Underscoring the bunker-mentality that has overtaken the TVUSD administrative compound, the attempted cyber-bullying appears to be heavily fueled by anger and paranoia, naming enemies in unrepeatable terms and engaging in unflinching defamation without any attempt to provide substantiation. And the use of the word defamation is not ours, rather, it comes from the Cease and Desist that was delivered to Superintendent Timothy Ritter and Chris Check, with copies being received by Velez, along with all of the board members, on the day after the maniacal manifesto was mass-delivered through TVUSD’s taxpayer-funded email system. This is the 2nd Cease and Desist Check has received.
As we’ve noted before, things get dicey when team Ritter is forced to face the temperature of the real world.
TVUSD Superintendent Timothy Ritter has a serious issue. He can’t face criticism, which is problematic for any person whose livelihood is funded by taxpayers, and who is responsible for the well being of our children on 180 days of each year.
He goes to great lengths to hide from critics, but in instances where he hasn’t been able to find shelter from words that make him sad, we’ve seen his behavior turn erratic and bizarre. While Tim Ritter has a tremendous amount of shortcomings, this is his Achilles heel. And it’s unacceptable for any school district’s superintendent.
The rambling, grammatically-challenged screed, which was sent from Check’s email address, is remarkable on numerous levels. For starters, it provides a first-person narrative of the TVUSD compound’s delirious descent into its current mindset.
|TVUSD’s Cornered Rat Manifesto||Our comment|
|“So could we please just have one night of celebration without naysayers, especially when it always the same naysayers? Seriously heart ‐ breaking.”||This is in reference to the school board meetings. She actually longs for the good-old-days when school board meetings weren’t about the business of the taxpayers and our children, they were – in her mind – celebrations! Also, it appears the she is requesting an exemption from the First Amendment right to assemble and petition.|
|“I STAND IN COMPLETE SUPPORT OF THE VISION AND LEADERSHIP KIMBERLY VELEZ HAS FOR OUR SPECIAL EDUCATION DEPARTMENT AND STUDENTS UNDER HER CARE.”||The all caps treatment in this loyalty oath is hers, of course.|
|“I am not a blind follower, I do not feel the need for administration to like me.”||We’re confused, what about that “stand in complete support of the vision and leadership” thingy she wrote about Kim Velez?|
|“Things don’t change overnight because we have laws and unions that don’t always make change easy.”||Is the TVUSD administration suggesting that things like those nagging “laws” just get in their way? And this is a particularly unsettling since TVUSD’s website lists Chris Check as working in the Compliance department. Maybe this would help explain the 226 corrective actions TVUSD received from the California Department of Education.|
Echoing Nixon’s Enemies List, TVUSD’s Cornered Rat Manifesto goes after specific targets. The first person to catch shrapnel is a current school board member.1)The cease and desist referenced in paragraph 2 of this article was unrelated to this school board member. There appears to be no attempt to disguise an attempt to tell the board member to keep her mouth shut, and never express an opinion that differs from the Superintendent and the Board President. There seems to be a pattern here.
|TVUSD’s Cornered Rat Manifesto||Our Comment|
|“Our district is at a critical point. We need to pull together as a team to go forward. I am asking you to step down so you don’t get in the way. You are not what our students, families or teachers need. You are an embarrassment to yourself, your representatives, the district, and the rest of the school board.”||Again, the First Amendment.
TVUSD’s Cornered Rat Manifesto also takes aim at a local Special Education Advocate who has had an astonishing rate of success, and has prevailed in some very high profile cases against TVUSD. The Manifesto launches into a series of personal attacks, unsubstantiated accusations of billing fraud, and language such as “she only cares about collecting her money and adding to her false sense of power” and “a greedy businesswoman”.
The Manifesto also includes complaints about the needs of special education students taking time away from other students. It is mind-boggling to us that a person who works in any special education department would view the needs of special education students and then feel justified in saying they make general education teachers feel “Harassed beyond belief“.
The bitterness from TVUSD’s administration toward this advocate is well documented. On Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 2:25 PM, Special Education Director Kim Velez was surfing Facebook and took the time to give a negative rating to this advocate’s business (see screenshot below). We would hope that with the taxpayer subsidized six-figure salary that Velez earns, she would have more important things to do than trolling Facebook on company time. And remember those 226 corrective actions the CDE slapped her with? They were for violations that occurred during the 2013-2014 school year…while she was busy trolling Facebook. So we feel very secure in saying that Kim Velez may have missed a thing or two…or 226 while she was consumed with Facebook.
TVUSD’s laissez-faire approach to matters of compliance and legality is troubling, because in the end, it is our children who suffer. But an administration that repeatedly claims to base their decisions on “data and research” should be accountable to data and research. And let’s be frank; data and research are not kind to team Ritter, especially in the area of Special Education.
The chart below shows the amount of Special Education Administrative Hearing Cases for all of the Riverside County school districts during 2010-2013, and as you can see, TVUSD is the clear champ here in a landslide. There is no close second. And in the entire state of California, TVUSD ranks in the top 3%.
There is simply nothing to argue. TVUSD’s special education department is a laughing stock. And the fact that Tim Ritter and the Board Members continue to support Kim Velez, despite clear data that demonstrates her failure, is a reason that the citizens of not only Temecula, but the entire world believe that TVUSD just doesn’t like kids with special needs.
And the volume of TVUSD’s special education related litigation continues at an alarming rate. Last week, they were served with a notice of claim for allegations of retaliation by calling Child Protective Services on a family with special needs students who recently prevailed in a Due Process case against the district. And calls to Child Protective Services to the homes of Temecula students who the District view as high profile, i.e. difficult for the District, have become a pattern of intimidation under the reign of Ritter and Velez.
But there is a silver lining to TVUSD’s seemingly endless special education litigation. It’s a goldmine for lawyers. At the next school board meeting, contracts will be proposed for four legal firms. Three of the legal firms will be funded by TVUSD’s special education department, which makes it exceptionally clear that Tim Ritter and Kim Velez are very expensive to the taxpayers of Temecula.
Notes [ + ]
|1.||↑||The cease and desist referenced in paragraph 2 of this article was unrelated to this school board member.|