The long-awaited independent investigation into the alleged “untruths and inaccuracies” (alleged “lies,” according to the Orange County Register) will be released in early October, according to the N-MUSD.

A March 28 letter from the Newport-Mesa Federation of Teachers to Russell Lee-Sung, whose title at the time was “Associate Superintendent, Chief Human Resources Officer,” (can’t tell the players without a scorecard), stated that “the [Mariners] teachers presented their concerns to Dr. Sacks at a staff meeting held on March 16, 2016 and the issues were not resolved.”

So the teachers went to their union and the letter was sent detailing 16 instances of alleged “untruths and inaccuracies,” including claiming the start of programs that were not implemented, not fully implemented or implemented in any meaningful way, a claim that teachers had been given training for a program when they had not, claims that teachers had been included in “collaborative meetings,” when they had not, and more.

It would seem to be difficult to get around these 16 allegations when there is so much evidence and so many witnesses pointing toward the teachers’ claims. But I stand by my prediction that the report will be more or less a whitewash. Oh, there will probably be some claim of miscommunication and minor discrepancies and that sort of language, but overall, no one will be found guilty of purposely fudging any information on the application.

I believe this because Sacks has already been reassigned when she should have been put on administrative leave until the verdict was in. There will be major egg on the face of the superintendent if the report finds that Sacks willfully falsified information on the application but was reassigned.

There won’t be any egg on anyone’s face, not when the superintendent is poised to receive yet another raise next month and more praise for doing such a splendid job.

The question now is for the union: What will they do if the report minimizes the “untruths and inaccuracies” and exonerates Sacks? That’s the equivalent of saying that all the teachers involved were wrong; that they either misunderstood the process or made 16 mountains out of 16 molehills.

If I’m wrong, if the report certifies everything the teachers claim, will any heads roll? Doubt it.

Either way, this report is an anti-climax to a disturbing problem in this administration – the real problem that runs through almost all of the scandals and misjudgments that have occurred over the past three years: The communication in this administration is extremely poor.

The challenges to Swun math amplified the problem. The administration and the school board cannot get in sync on what has happened, how much it costs, who said what, when any next steps will be taken, and who is responsible for this mess. The finger-pointing would be comical if it weren’t for the fact that some of our youngest students have been suffering through a math program that teachers and parents dislike.

The poor communication is also evident at Estancia High, where giant poles were erected without telling nearby homeowners, who then demanded that they be taken down. In order to get a sense of the magnitude of the problem, you have to see poles to believe it. So, here you are:poles

It’s hard to tell, but the baseball diamond is too close to the solar panels in the picture.

More bad communication continued with the district claiming that the poles were erected in part to prevent foul balls from entering the backyards of the homes on Joann St. which borders the baseball diamond. Multiple residents refuted that claim and it doesn’t take a genius to recognize that the diamond and the homeowners have gotten along just fine for decades, thank you very much.

The poles were erected to protect those expensive solar panels from breaking due to foul balls from the diamond. So why were those panels placed there instead of farther back in the Estancia parking lot, or in the other Estancia parking lot? Because they screwed up, that’s why.

Instead of just acknowledging what the rest of us know – that they blew it – the administration is clinging to its foul ball/home rationale. Almost as an afterthought, they throw in something about the panels.

So down come the poles, but hey! it’s only taxpayer dollars (at least $1 million, according to one recent speaker at a school board club meeting) so who cares?

What passes for good communication is newly announced quarterly newsletter that promises to address district challenges, but it won’t, not in any meaningful way. And there will be an attempt at good communication at the upcoming state of the schools breakfast, during which we will hear that everything is great and that thanks to increased community involvement and input (See! We’re listening!) the Swun math program will be replaced (just as soon as they can claim it was their idea).

Untruths and inaccuracies indeed.

Steve Smith

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