This post has value to you even if you are not a parent or teacher at Mariners…

The dog days of summer are kind to the Bear St. bureaucrats every year. As predicted, the Mariners Gold Ribbon scandal has made it to the finish line – that’s today – with a strong attempt to sweep it under the rug.

None of the following has been confirmed – at this time, I am just reporting what sources have told me. I’ll save the best for last.

The first bit of information I have received is that Mariners principal Laura Sacks has “requested a transfer to another assignment.” Sacks has not been found culpable for anything involving the Gold Ribbon application and the reason for her departure was not specified in her letter of June 20.

Next,  I received news that Superintendent Frederick Navarro has decided that it’s time to be a superintendent and actually left his office to get involved in this mess. After an on-site visit to his school, it looks like California El principal Matt Broesamle may take over at Mariners. I am told that the official announcement will come today – the last day of school. Again, this is not confirmed, but I expect the Sacks and Broesamle news to break today.

So who will take over at California? Anyone’s guess, but the musical chairs will not include the usual “who would you like to see as principal?” community meetings. If they are not doing it at Mariners with Sacks’ replacement, they sure as heck aren’t going to do it at California. Not a bad thing, those meetings are all for show anyway.

Next we have a disconnect between what we were told about the district’s internal report – which they call a “self-study” – and what is really being issued. (BTW… “self-study?” That’s another term for “whitewash.”)

Sifting through all of the usual bureaucratic mumbo jumbo (why say it in 50 words when you can say it in 500?), we see that the meetings at Mariners were never really about getting to the bottom of the Gold Ribbon application, they were to figure out what it was going to take to shut up the parents a teachers.

We were told at the meeting that it would be public as of today. Well, it’s today and there’s nothing on the district’s website, though it’s still early.

And here’s the best part… That external investigation? The one that uses your tax dollars to hire an investigative firm to check into the Gold Ribbon application? I’m told that the final report isn’t happening anytime soon because – surprise!!! – it’s the end of the school year and it will be concluded in the fall.

I know, I know, that doesn’t make any sense. But here’s where the official stupid part comes in: That’s the level of intelligence the administration and the school board club think we have. Anyone who tries to put this nonsense in front of us is doing so for only one reason: They think we’ll believe it. That says they think we’re stupid.

This is a good time to remind you that this process started over two months ago, when teachers at Mariners complained to the union about untruths and inaccuracies in the Gold Ribbon application. The letter from the union is dated March 28. So if the so-called “self-study” was completed in about two weeks, why did it take so long to start? Here’s a hint: Look at the calendar.

No, I don’t mind saying “I told you so” when it comes to district shenanigans.

The truth behind all of this may never be revealed because the Bear St. bureaucrats will hide behind the usual “personnel matter” cover.
 
And it won’t answer the questions I asked earlier:
  • Who, if anyone, assisted the Mariners’ principal in completing the application?
  • Who reviewed the application for accuracy before it was submitted?
  • What was the application process at the 11 other schools that achieved Gold Ribbon status?
  • Who completed the applications at the 11 other schools?
  • Who reviewed the applications at the 11 other schools?

It won’t answer these questions because the answers could reveal that this is not really a question of one person who may have made some mistakes. The answers to these questions could reveal that there was a district-wide attempt at applying “untruths and inaccuracies” on more Gold Ribbon applications. Then it may not. But wouldn’t you like to know? Of course you would.

The really big point here is not Mariners, it’s not these silly investigations, and it’s not about Gold Ribbons. Ultimately, this comes down to a fundamental lack of leadership, the perpetuation of a toxic working environment, and the colossal waste of district resources (that’s your tax dollars).

So what should have happened? As an example, I’ll leave you with these June 15 quotes from the East Bay Express newspaper up in Oakland, where a different scandal is unfolding:

“Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf announced today the immediate removal of interim Police Chief Ben Fairow. Fairow was appointed last Friday to replace Chief Sean Whent who was forced out of the job by a court-appointed monitor who has been working for 13 years to try to reform OPD.”

The mayor said in a statement, “I have just received information that has caused me to lose confidence in Ben Fairow’s ability to lead the Oakland Police Department at this particular moment in time. OPD staff, members of our community and City leadership deserve to have complete trust and confidence in our Chief, especially during this critical transition.”

“I made the decision to appoint Ben Fairow, I also own the decision to remove him,” said Schaaf in the statement. “I firmly believe that when you make a mistake, you need to own it, and act quickly to correct it.”

Gee, what a concept.

Steve Smith

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