A culture of secrecy is not appropriate for a public entity
Superintendents like Ed Brand should not oversee SDCOE lawyers.
We are putting the fox in charge of the hen house at SDCOE.
The taxpayers have to keep paying and paying, while Ed Brand and Tom Anthony
ignore the law.
Ed Brand's secret strategies for avoiding compliance with legal requirements for
spending taxpayer dollars were revealed in the Mary Anne Weegar Case.
"You don't expect me to
believe that corruption is
widespread in school districts,
"Unethical people never even
think of applying for jobs in
"Just because millions of
dollars are available in schools
with very little oversight and
institutionalized secrecy, does
not mean that anyone is taking
advantage of the situation."
"If an unethical person did get
hired by a school district, and
then committed a crime, SDCOE
JPA lawyers would recommend
that the district fire that
person. They wouldn't try to
cover up wrongdoing."
Note to SDCOE board:
How about some
basic training for
superintendents to help them
understand the principles of
It would save the taxpayers
millions of dollars, and it would
give our children better role
And stop the training sessions
by insurance company lawyers!
"The system is indeed
It appears that public
employees such as Diane
Crosier, Rick Rinear, Rodger
Hartnett and Lisa
Adriance-Jensen, who act as
insurance company gents, are
usurping the responsibilities of
elected officials in San Diego
County Schools. And elected
officials are shirking their
engage in lawsuit
JPA director Diane
Croiser likes to
accuse her victims
of lawsuit abuse,
but the answer to
this question is
When schools prevent
problems, and when
they resolve problems
that have already
occurred, they stop the
flow of money to school
superintendents like Ed
Brand and Tom Anthony
direct SDCOE lawyers?
As seen in the examples
above, these individuals do
not understand the concept of
conflict of interest, or the fact
that public entities and
private insurance companies
have different purposes.
Like the California Penal
System (probably the
most corrupt public
entity in the state),
many school districts
encourage a system of
using feared inmates
(powerful teachers and
In Grossmont Union
High School District, a
coach used bully
students as enforcers.
The district defended
him instead of firing
A school band leader
from the San Diego
area assaulted a
student for wearing the
wrong color socks at
the Rose Bowl. The
district defended him
instead of firing him.
are often adults
at the time of the suspected
criminal activity was Ed Brand,
who has since left and is now
superintendent of the San Marcos
Unified School District. Brand could
not be reached for comment.
Link: Voice of San Diego
Feb 21, 2006
"Something Went Sour in
"The extent of the fraud is unknown
as yet, but damage control is in full
swing at the Sweetwater Union High
"...Also familiar with the case is
Lora Duzyk, SDCOE's assistant
superintendent for business
services, who also denied knowing
the extent of the loss."
(Ed Brand is a current member of
the SDCOE Legal Services Council.
Are you the right man for the job,
San Diego County Office of Education
SDCOE Joint Powers Authority (JPA)
An Insurance Company Funded by the Public but run for the benefit of the few
Schools should make
school safe for children
by teaching students
and adults better ways
to deal with problems.
Instead, they give
"More families are
taking school bullies to
Feb. 17, 2006
San Diego Union Tribune
"If individuals persist, refer them to Diane Crosier."
San Diego County Office of Education policy is not to allow parents to see
accident reports about their own children!
Diane Crosier says the document is attorney work product, and so the original
description of a child's accident at school is hidden from parents and doctors.
Link: JPA Loss Control Newsletter
The above link was broken by SDCOE, but I saved a copy of the file.
Click HERE to see it.
The Education Intelligence
"Fallbrook Union High School
District Superintendent Tom
Anthony didn’t know what the
local teachers’ union affiliate
was up to. He was concerned
that they planned to strike.
"So he ordered a search of the
district voice mail of union
President Alan Saltamachio,
Vice President Jeff Ropes, and
union member Peter Fellios,
and is in deep legal doo-doo.
"Anthony claims board policy
gives him oversight of the
voice mail (by the way, no
strike was planned)."
January 4, 2008
San Diego Education Report called up Diane Crosier today and asked her what
insurance company handled Maura Larkins' April 21, 2005 tort claim against SDCOE
Crosier looked on her computer and found Maura Larkins' tort claims for 2001,
2002, and May 2004, but nothing for 2005.
Crosier asked if the claim was about continuing incidents.
I said, no, they were about specific, single events on November 4 and 10, 2004.
She said it might be in the May 2004 file, but the file is in storage.
At the bottom of this page is the claim that either no one ever entered properly into
the SDCOE-JPA computer, or someone removed from the computer.
It regards SDCOE-JPA lawyers who represented witnesses.
SDCOE-JPA instructions to schools
Q. What does SDCOE's Rick Rinear instruct school districts to do every time
someone submits a claim?
A. "...the claim should be...returned as insufficient, late or rejected."
"...If a claim is submitted in letter format and is sufficient (in compliance)...
the claim should be... returned as insufficient, late or rejected...
"Please continue to forward claims when received to San Diego County Schools Risk
Management JPA...Attention: Rodger Hartnett, Property & Liability JPA Claims
Coordinator. Rodger or Lisa Adriance-Jensen will recommend what action to take."
Source: January 22, 2004
To: JPA Representatives
From: Rick Rinear, JPA Risk Management
Link to SDCOE memo
If SDCOE breaks the link, here is my backup copy of the document:
Subject: Tort Claim Reporting Form – Revised
GIC880054 SAN DIEGO COUNTY OFFICE
OF EDUCATION SANCHEZ, OCTAVIO
San Diego 02/13/2007
37-2008-00081583-CU-WT-CTL SAN DIEGO
COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION
HARTNETT, RODGER J San Diego Civil
Case Title: HARTNETT VS. SAN DIEGO
COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION
Case Location: San Diego
Case Type: Civil Date Filed:
Category: CU-WT Wrongful Termination
HARTNETT RODGER J P
SAN DIEGO COUNTY OFFICE OF
WARD RANDOLPH E
SAN DIEGO COUNTY OFFICE OF
South County 06/06/2006
"Several publicly owned insurance companies have since reported receiving
subpoenas from San Diego investigators..."
--San Diego Union Tribune, June 25, 2008
have since reported
from San Diego
Insurer fined in San Diego
By Jonathan Sidener
San Diego Union Tribune
June 25, 2008
...Unum Group will pay a $5.5
million fine as a result of a federal
investigation of kickbacks paid to
a San Diego insurance broker,
according to the U.S. Attorney's
In 2004, New York prosecutors alleged
that Universal Life received
undisclosed contingent commissions,
which are akin to kickbacks, for
steering business to certain insurers.
A New York lawsuit alleged that
Universal Life collected about
$11.5 million of its $25 million in
revenue in 2003 from these secret
Several publicly-owned insurance
companies have since reported
receiving subpoenas from San Diego
Tort claim missing from SDCOE-JPA computer
Who benefits from
The answer is not
students, nor is it
It is school board
members (particularly at
election time), their
JPA to schools: Don't let parents see accident reports
Additional Secrecy Policies of SDCOE
Peters v. Guajome
This program offers protection against both
property and liability losses.
Liability claims are investigated and
adjusted by in house staff. It provides
members with one of the broadest excess
coverage forms available in California.
Sub-programs include: Auto Physical Damage,
Boiler & Machinery, and Main Frame
Computer. Loss prevention/control services
are funded and made available to members via
JPA staff and contract vendors.
Claim Reporting Forms
Surveys & Misc Forms
San Diego County Schools Risk Management
6401 Linda Vista Rd. Suite 505, San Diego,
Phone (858) 292-3776, Fax (858) 279-6236
Rodger Hartnett, Claims Coordinator -
Lisa Adriance-Jensen, Senior Adjuster
- (858) 569-5453
John Vincent, Senior Investigator - (858)
JOHN BURNHAM INSURANCE
750 B St, Suite 2400, San Diego, CA
Corporate Phone (619) 231-1010
Toll Free (800) 421-6744, Fax (619)
John Starich, ARM, CIC, Senior Vice
Direct Dial: (619) 525-2803, FAX: (619)
Terrie Carney, CPIW, CISR, AAI, Account
Direct Dial: (619) 525-2836, FAX: (619)
SDCOE contract atty. Dan Shinoff took SDCOE employees to this restaurant for lunch.
Defamation lawsuit #2
Risk management director Diane Crosier and Supt. Randall Ward used SDCOE resources to
advance a private lawsuit by their contract lawyers at Stutz, Artiano Shinoff & Holtz when
they asked for restraining order against the author of this website for attempting to serve
a deposition subpoena on Diane Crosier regarding Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz v. Maura
Larkins defamation lawsuit. Crosier appeared to be evading service.
Ernie Dronenburg (left in 2006)
Bob Watkins (left SDCOE in 2009; re-
elected as President of board at the board’s
first meeting of 2008; Sheriff Bill Kolendar
appointed Mr. Watkins to the Airport
Authority for a 3-year term ending Jan. 31,
Jerry Rindone (asked for questionable
practices to be investigated.)
Alicia Munoz (2014- )
Board members in recent past
Defamation lawsuit #1
This case arose out of SDCOE breach of contract lawsuits (and counter suits) when public
employees Dan Puplava and Diane Crosier discovered who had leaked documents to the San
Diego Union-Tribune revealing $100,000s of commissions Puplava received from financial
institutions doing business with SDCOE and resulting in an expose by Jeff McDonald. SDCOE
Fringe Benefits Consortium filed a lawsuit against financial counselors April 9, 2010; later they
filed a defamation suit against Scott Dauenhauer and Barry Allred for whistle-blowing.
Contents of this page
2. Insurance company/AIG lawyers
3. Illegal acts? (right column)
Current (updated Jan. 2018)
Perhaps Diane Crosier is too busy filing lawsuits
on behalf of Dan Puplava and herself in the name
of the Fringe Benefits Consortium to report gifts
from lawyers that she does business with as
director of SDCOE risk management.
SAN DIEGO AND IMPERIAL COUNTY SCHOOLS
FRINGE BENEFITS CONSORTIUM VS. DAVID ALAN
Case Number: 37-2010-00051562-CU-BC-NC
Case Location: North County
Date Filed: 02/25/2010
Category: CU-BCW Breach of
SAN DIEGO AND IMPERIAL COUNTY SCHOOLS
FRINGE BENEFITS CONSORTIUM
WHITMORE DAVID ALAN
Whitmore v. Hartford Casualty Insurance Company
Plaintiff: David A. Whitmore
Defendants: Hartford Casualty Insurance
Company and DOES
Case Number: 3:2010cv01137
Filed: May 26, 2010
Court: California Southern District Court
Office: San Diego Office [ Court Info ]
County: San Diego
Nature of Suit: Contract - Insurance
Jury Demanded By: None
5. Risk Management Department
List of school districts and people from
various districts who are on JPA
oversight committee--even if they don't
know they are on those committess and
don't know when the meetings are held.
Silvia Peters Uniform
Complaint against Vista
Unified School District
August 24, 2010
re Policy No. 3530
In the policy VUSD states, "the Board
of Trustees strongly supports a risk
management program that protects
District resources and promotes safety
of students, staff and public."
VUSD further pledges that they are
going to, "keep its liability at a minimum
and its insurance premiums as low as
possible while maintaining adequate
...VUSD has the highest premiums in
San Diego County and Riverside along
with Poway Unified School District.
While other school districts pay .19
cents per student DA in premiums.
Both VUSD and PUSD pay over .29
cents DA per student in premiums per
Joint Power of Authority "JPA."
The more lawsuits and violations the
higher the insurance premiums.
What this means is that VUSD spends
almost the entire budget in employee
salaries and insurance companies
[JPA's]! A perfect example of legal
advice which VUSD has had for
decades is Thursday August 19, 2010
closed session item
37-2009-00057592. VUSD voted to
appeal this case.
The case is a simple $ 6, 412.07
dollars which Superior Court
Judge Nugent entered judgment
against VUSD in favor of California
School Employees Association and
its Vista Chapter 389. Instead of
paying the $ 6, 412.07 Court
[The case concerns a bus driver
who was injured in a minor
accident. Why not just pay the
victim? The judge did not even
order the district to pay attorney
VUSD on advice from attorney of
record Daniel Shinoff and Lee
Patajo advised VUSD to appeal the
judgment to the California Fourth
Appellate. Churning and
churning the billable hours and
higher insurance premiums in the
Southern Golden State.
SDCOE contract atty. Dan Shinoff took SDCOE employees to this restaurant for lunch.
SDCOE-JPA and Diane Crosier have made clear once again that they think their job is
to help school districts violate the law:
What are the hidden costs of hiring lawyers to oppose
Why did school administrators in the Coach Carter case allow a coach to harm a
child's health? Why did they fire a good employee who blew the whistle? Why did
school board members in Escondido prefer to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to
lawyers when James Carter would almost certainly have been willing to settle for an
amount similar to, or, more likely, less than, what the lawyers were paid in this case?
Now the taxpayers pay the full cost of Crosier's salary, but the private insurance
companies still seem to get all the advantages they used to pay for.
Could a new director lower SDCOE JPA's costs and increase student safety? One can
Diane Crosier chooses the attorneys that will handle cases covered by SDCOE-JPA.
The usual question school districts use when hiring lawyers is, "Which one is
Sometimes you save money in the long run by investing more in the short run. If a
public entity pays half price, but its lawyers take more than twice as long to do a job,
then the public entity has wasted taxpayer money. If the cheap lawyer violates the
law in the process, taxpayers may lose huge amounts of money. Public officials who
pay lawyers to violate laws should be thrown out of office.
In the public interest,
a new director should be chosen to take Diane Crosier's
The SDCOE JPA needs a new director who will not hire lawyers like Daniel Shinoff
who intimidate victims and witnesses, make false statements to the court during
litigation, and teach clients how to get away with wrongdoing.
Instead, he or she would contract with lawyers who would advise districts on how to
The SDCOE Joint Powers Authority (JPA) is run much
like any other insurance company (such as AIG) even
though it is a public entity
which is to say, with very little concern for those who pay premiums, and for
those who are injured by unlawful actions of those who pay premiums.
In fact, SDCOE contracts with AIG.
The Joint Powers Authority appears to be run for the benefit of lawyers. Diane
Crosier, who is a lawyer, provides a steady flow of tax dollars to her lawyer
associates. How much? The public has a right to know this.
Diane Crosier tries to make sure that little or nothing is provided to employees
who teach children or serve children in classified or administrative positions. In
fact, she goes around campaigning for limits on payments to those injured when
school districts break the law--but no limits on amounts paid to lawyers!
In 2005, a federal judge reprimanded Lozano, Smith, a big California education
law firm, for their illegal tactics, but most education lawyers have continued to
play from the same (illegal) playbook.
As can be seen from the recent revelations regarding the enormous--and, in
some cases, illegal--pension promises and payouts at the City and County of San
Diego, many San Diego officials are happy to give away outrageous amounts of
public money in order to accomplish personal goals.
Yet these same individuals refuse to pay up when a court tells them that the law
requires it. Apparently, they hate to waste money on people who haven't done
them favors, or causes that won't benefit them personally in some way.
Dan Shinoff's "Gentlemen's Agreement"
Jim Kelly and Terry Ryan kept urging the board to hire lawyers approved by the
San Diego County Office of Education Legal Services Council. Well, that doesn’t
seem to include Daniel Shinoff. Why? Because SDCOE has a "gentlemen's
agreement" with Shinoff.
SDCOE’s website lists only the following approved firms:
1. Atkinson, Andelson, Loya
2. Best, Best & Krieger
3. Lozano Smith (A federal judge ordered all 80 lawyers in this firm to take an
4. Parham & Rajcic
LAWYERS WHO CONCEAL PROBLEMS COST MORE THAN
THEIR HOURLY RATES INDICATE
How much do lawyers cost? They cost a lot more than their hourly rate would
indicate. Some lawyers intentionally prolong problems in order to make more money.
They end up charging millions of dollars for cases that would never have arisen if
schools were given legal advice to correct improprieties, or had been advised to
settle early. Instead of agreeing to do give reparation to students and teachers who
have been wrongfully damaged, some lawyers cover-up documents and witnesses,
clog up the courts with cases that should have been settled, and clog up schools with
Attorney Diane Crosier, Director of SDCOE-JPA, collected pay
from a private insurance company at the same time she
INSURANCE COMPANY LAWYERS AND SDCOE-JPA
SDCOE and AIG
AIG getting tax dollars from schools as well as from congress
SDCOE chose AIG to work with teachers on retirement as well as to provide
The Hunter Group
... In 2001 she joined a boutique office of Sentra Securites that would later be
purchased by SunAmerica to become what is now AIG Financial Advisors. For the
last three years the La Jolla office was sanctioned by The San Diego County
Office of Education in assisting local teachers to save in their 403(b), Roth 403(b),
and 457 Plans. Edwina held weekly educational seminars and assisted in navigating the
red tape of their retirement programs.
Edwina graduated from the University of California San Diego with a BA in Chemistry.
She holds FINRA Series 7 and 66 securities registrations and a California Insurance
Daniel Lee Puplava, Registered Principal of Escondido, California
Misappropriated signature guarantees on client's forms
Puplava’s non-registered assistant had access to his signature guarantee stamp... to approve
securities business-related transactions and paperwork that required a signature guarantee
stamp...Puplava did not take back his signature guarantee stamp or take steps to otherwise
secure the stamp to prevent its misuse. ..
The findings also stated that Puplava had customers sign blank securities business-
related forms, including non-brokerage change request forms, mutual fund transfer
forms and securities account forms, and retained these forms in his customer files
contrary to his member firm’s prohibition against this practice.
Ironically, SDCOE attorney Dan Shinoff sued Barry Alred and Scott Dauenhauer on
behalf of Diane Crosier and Dan Puplava for defamation for exposing Puplava's
dealings, and extracted settlements without the truth ever coming out in a trial.
Also, Diane Crosier refused to produce public records to a local reporter.
Did SDCOE board members Mark Anderson, Susan Hartley, Lyn Neylong, Gregg Robinson and Sharon
Jones suddenly become interested in ethics? No. They still clearly believe that their job is to protect
the individuals in power in the education establishment, even at the expense of the students they
claim to serve, the public that they claim to represent. Transparency? Forget about it.
SDCOE says the public has no right to an explanation--even after the San Diego Union-Tribune exposed
the $355,000 in checks Dan Puplava received from financial companies--of the trips taken by Diane
Crosier, executive director of the risk management department, to visit the companies she deals with.
Are San Diego JPAs being investigated?
"...Several publicly owned insurance companies have since reported
receiving subpoenas from San Diego investigators..."
--San Diego Union Tribune
June 25, 2008
San Diego Union Tribune's Jonathan Sidener reports that the US Attorney has fined
an insurance company for paying a San Diego insurance broker "millions of dollars
in kickbacks disguised as items such as requests for proposals,
communications and enrollment fees. Those fees were passed along to
Sharon Jones won
59% of the vote in her
June 6, 2006 race
against Rick Winet.
...No competitive process has been used by officials to select the law firm
panel, because state law doesn’t require it, officials said.
Written policies for the legal unit say the work will go to the attorney “most qualified to handle and
advise on the specific case” and give the agency “absolute authority to direct selection of the
Music Watson, spokeswoman for the County Office of Education, said member districts can
express a preference for any firm they want to use.
At least one district official told U-T Watchdog she was
unaware that she had a choice of which law firm to use.
“The Rancho Santa Fe School District does not choose the attorney(s) for
JPA,” superintendent Lindy Delaney wrote in an email. “If I had a choice, I
would request JPA use Currier and Hudson. Currier and Hudson has
represented the Rancho Santa Fe School District very well in the past 25+
If districts don’t choose, Watson said, the agency assigns work to the three contractors on a
rotating basis. The rotation is not spelled out in the written policy, but Watson said on
Wednesday that it will be added in response to the U-T’s questions.
The JPA has an annual budget of $42 million and has collected reserves of about $92 million. It
functions somewhat like a liability insurance pool for the districts that join.
Schools pay into the fund in return for defense work in liability and property cases and workers’
compensation claims. Member districts and charter schools also receive training to prevent legal
issues from arising...
Secrecy at SDCOE-JPA
SDCOE provides legal services for school districts--but keeps districts
in the dark about what's going on
Oversight meetings occur rarely, without contacting all members
Legal agency says cases are rotated
By Ashly McGlone
UT San Diego
Jan. 30, 2015
...Although school districts are entitled to a representative on the
governing board of the agency, some don’t take advantage of it.
Several members of the board contacted by the U-T were unaware they
were on it, including the superintendents for the Coronado, La Mesa-
Spring Valley, San Pasqual, Vallecitos and Jamul-Dulzura districts, and
the associate superintendent at Encinitas Union.
Coronado Superintendent Jeffrey Felix said he was unaware the board held
one of its rare meetings last month.
And Frank Gomez of San Pasqual Union School District was listed on the agency’s web site as of
Friday as an alternate board member even though he died in 2009.
Districts also don’t possess or track legal bills for work on their behalf by the JPA, instead delegating
bill oversight to the agency’s staff...
Susan Hartley (2002-2014)
Dan Shinoff suspended from new cases at SDCOE Risk Management
I can't believe that SDCOE-JPA executive director Diane Croiser has suspended attorney Dan Shinoff
Officials at SDCOE-JPA have worked closely--and almost exclusively--with attorney Dan Shinoff for
decades, but have now cut him off from new case assignments! What??? SDCOE itself should be
investigated if Dan Shinoff should be investigated.
Dan Shinoff always had SDCOE officials looking over his shoulder as he conducted cases.
SDCOE administrators sat in the courtroom during trials, made decisions with Mr. Shinoff. SDCOE-JPA
executive director Diane Crosier, Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Lora Duzyk,
and Superintendent Randy Ward are responsible for Shinoff's actions. They oversee him.
Who is going to investigate them?
Schools office suspends law firm
U~T San Diego
A law firm that does legal work for school districts across San Diego County has been suspended from
new assignments by the agency at the Office of Education that taps attorneys for certain liability cases....
[Diane] Crosier wrote to [Dan] Shinoff...
"Due to the severity of the allegations [by San Ysidro School District] we feel it is in the best
interest of our members to suspend any new assignments until the lawsuit and bar complaint are
resolved. We appreciate your many years of dedicated work for the JPA membership."
...Shinoff told the U-T on Friday that the San Ysidro actions were baseless. He issued this statement
today, in response to the JPA reaction:
The JPA felt it was in everyone’s best interest to suspend new assignments to the firm until all issues
have been resolved. We certainly understand why the JPA feels this is necessary, given the misguided
action of one of its school district members. We have had a long and successful relationship with the JPA
members. We expect a speedy resolution to these issues and look forward to our continued relationship
with its members.
In comments on the Watchdog’s story about how the legal work is distributed, personal injury attorney
Daniel Gilleon spoke up for Shinoff and attorney Randy Winet, who receives the second largest helping
of legal work from the JPA.
“Randy Winet and Dan Shinoff represent the school districts for a simple reason,” Gilleon said, “they are
two of the best attorneys in San Diego, and their ethics are beyond reproach.”
Maura Larkins note:
The San Diego Union Tribune reports in the above article that the SDCOE-JPA is now "known
as the San Diego County Schools Risk Management JPA." It sounds to me like SDCOE is trying
to distance itself from the SDCOE-Joint Powers Authority run by SDCOE. A few short years ago
it was easy to find documentation about the JPA on the SDCOE website, but the whole
operation has become very secretive.
The UT also says the JPA "is governed by a board of administrators from
the school districts that use its services.
The truth is that SDCOE gives orders to the school administrators, not the
other way around. For example, it has directed them to "deny all claims"!!!!!
Also, as the UT itself reported recently (see following story), sometimes
the "board members" don't even know that they're on the board, and they
don't know when the (rare) meetings are held.
Soon after Diane Crosier suspended attorney Dan Shinoff from being
assigned SDCOE cases, she and her cronies at SDCOE quietly reinstated
SDCOE didn't want to wait for the outcome of the San Ysidro lawsuit--or for a full
The lawsuit was finally settled with Dan Shinoff and Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz agreeing
to pay $2 million to settle the malpractice suit by their former client San Ysidro School
March 17, 2015
Going off the rails on a gravy train?
Alleged conflicts of interest within county office of education
By Dorian Hargrove
April 20, 2015
...For more than 12 years, nearly $100,000 has been paid to private investigators from ESI
International Incorporated, run by Robert Price. Much of that money has been paid to
investigator Chris Jensen for surveillance and research on claims made to the agency.
Since 2003, Jensen's wife Lisa Jensen has worked as senior claims representative for the
San Diego County Office of Education. One of Jensen's tasks was to write checks to outside
firms, including ESI International.
According to public records obtained by the Reader, Jensen and her colleagues wrote checks to ESI for
surveillance work in cases throughout the county, including investigation work in the lawsuit filed by the
parents of Scott Eveland, a student and football player at Mission Hills High School in San Marcos who
suffered a traumatic brain injury during a game. Eveland's family later settled the lawsuit for $4.375
million in 2012.
Other documents show Chris Jensen, through ESI, charging the office of education and National City
School District nearly $1200 to travel to the downtown Superior Court building to obtain copies of
criminal files in an unrelated case. Jensen was also reimbursed for mileage driven and for photocopies
In September 2013, as reported by the Reader, Sweetwater Unified School District's then-superintendant
Ed Brand, who has since been accused of collecting thousands in pension benefits while simultaneously
collecting a salary, asked his colleagues to pay ESI International over $65,000 to investigate employees.
That request was later scrapped.
A spokeswoman for the office of education says much of the time Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz had
already hired ESI before the county agency's joint powers authority made any payments on certain
The office of education has since suspended future hiring in order to avoid
any future potential conflicts.
“[The San Diego County Office of Education] has directed [Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz] to refrain from
subcontracting to ESI on any and all [joint powers authority]-related cases in order to avoid even the
appearance of a conflict of interest," writes spokesperson Music Watson. "The [joint powers authority] is
reviewing all cases being handled by the firm to make sure no conflicts exist."
County Board of
Education appoints new
By Christine Huard
Aug. 12, 2015
Guadalupe Gonzalez, a San Diego
Mesa College teacher and
counselor, was appointed to the
County Board of Education with a
unanimous vote Wednesday night.
She fills the seat vacated June 30 by
She joins a board whose majority of
members are also community
college educators: Alicia Munoz
teaches at Cuyamaca College, Mark
Anderson teaches at San Diego
Miramar College, and board
President Gregg Robinson is an
instructor at Grossmont College...
Doug Perkins (2014-June 2015)
Note: (The Ph.D. degrees mentioned
above are happily not in the field of
education. Advanced degrees in
education are not usually achieved
through academic rigor. Mr. Robinson has
a degree in sociology, and Ms. Neylong has
a degree in literature.)
|San Diego Education Report
|San Diego Education Report
Lyn Neylong, Ph.D.(2012-June 30, 2015)
County Superintendent Randy Ward, left, with Board of Education members Mark Anderson,
Guadalupe Gonzalez, Gregg Robinson, Alicia Munoz and Richard Shea updated July 2016
Conflicts of interest at SDCOE? The board appointed
Randy Ward's former Special Assistant to oversee
Superintendent Ward's actions
Choosing former employees to oversee their former bosses is
starting to look like a pattern at SDCOE.
by Maura Larkins
Voice of San Diego noticed in 2009 that Executive Director of Risk Management Diane
Crosier, who steers millions of dollars of legal work to Dan Shinoff of Stutz Artiano Shinoff &
Holtz law firm, had been an employee of Mr. Shinoff. In the past three fiscal years, Stutz got
$4.6 million of the $6.6 million of work handed out.
Earlier this year, San Ysidro School District sued Mr. Shinoff and Stutz law firm for
malpractice. The school district also filed a complaint against Mr. Shinoff with the State Bar
Despite the seriousness of the allegations, I was shocked when the very loyal Crosier
suspended Mr. Shinoff. Crosier wrote to Shinoff on March 16, 2015, "Due to the severity of
the allegations we feel it is in the best interest of our members to suspend any new
assignments until the lawsuit and bar complaint are resolved."
I should have guessed that the suspension wouldn't last long. SDCOE did
NOT wait until the lawsuit and bar complaint were resolved before it
reinstated Mr. Shinoff.
La Prensa reports:
"Only a few weeks after the suspension, the Stutz Artiano firm was
reassigned to cases from the Office of Education even though the San Ysidro
malpractice case and the State Bar complaint were still pending.
The County claimed it had investigated the allegations and felt comfortable returning
the firm to work, however, no member of the San Ysidro School Board nor
the Superintendent was
ever contacted by the County in connection with that
Perhaps SDCOE knew that Mr. Shinoff and Stutz law firm would not prevail, so they
reinstated him before the malpractice case was settled. It certainly wouldn't have looked good
for SDCOE to reinstate Mr. Shinoff after he and his law firm agreed to pay $2 million before
any depositions were taken.
La Prensa reports:
"The law firm settled the case for $2 million at the first mediation
between the parties, before any depositions were taken or binding
arbitration sessions started. The District received a net payout of over $1.8 million
after paying outside legal fees...
"Many critics have long complained about the cozy relationship between Daniel
Shinoff and Diane Crosier. In the 1970s, both Mr. Shinoff and Ms. Crosier worked
for an outside insurance company that handled school district claims. Mr. Shinoff
later became a lawyer and joined what would become the Stutz Artiano firm, and he
continued to receive school district cases from Ms. Crosier.
"A few years later, Ms. Crosier herself became a lawyer and joined the Stutz firm.
"In 1996, when the County Office of Education created the Risk Management Joint
Powers Authority (JPA), Mr. Shinoff was instrumental in Diane Crosier’s hiring as the
JPA’s Executive Director. Ms. Crosier administers over $42 million per year in
insurance claims. Over the past few years, the Stutz firm has received over 70% of the
legal work even though the agency claims cases are assigned on a rotating basis..."
San Diego County Office of Education has a hiring freeze in place after widespread
complaints about conflicts of interest at SDCOE. But that hasn't stopped the board
from making questionable appointments.
Update on suspension of Dan Shinoff from being given new cases by
SDCOE Risk Department:
Rick Shea [Randy Ward's
appointed to county Board
July 9, 2015
by Maggie Avants
Encinitas resident Rick Shea was
appointed Wednesday to the San
Diego County Board of Education.
Shea — a former Encinitas mayor
and Councilman — will serve as the
board representative for District 5,
which runs along the coast from Del
Mar to Camp Pendleton and includes
some inland North County areas,
according to a news release.
He fills the seat vacated by Doug
Perkins, who stepped down June 8
for health reasons, including
suffering a stroke. Perkins had been
elected to the county board in
November 2014, after serving seven
years as a trustee for the Del Mar
Union School District...
Grand Jury Report Eviscerates San
Ysidro School Bond Program
By Ashly McGlone
Voice of San Diego
May 25, 2016
While criminal charges against former San Ysidro school
officials focused on gifts from contractors, the Grand Jury
report highlights lapses in San Ysidro’s bond spending
The San Diego County Grand Jury lobbed
criticism at County Office of Education staff
brought in to oversee the beleaguered border
district after it earned a negative budget rating in
The jury concluded officials – like fiscal
adviser Lora Duzyk – “did not take an
aggressive enough role in correcting
problems” while fending off a state takeover. Duzyk
declined to comment
Maura Larkins' note: Lora Duzyk is also a voting member
of the San Diego County Treasurer-Tax Collector's
Treasury Oversight Committee:
"The County of San Diego Board of Supervisors
enacted a Resolution adopting Government Code
section 27131, creating the County Treasury
Oversight Committee. Its purpose is to "promote
public interest by involving depositors in the
management of their funds and by enhancing the
security and investment return on their funds by
providing a more stable and predictable balance for
investment by establishing criteria for the withdrawal
|Grand Jury says Lora Duzyk failed to
clean up worrisome lapses in San
Ysidro where hundreds of thousands of
dollars went missing
San Diego County School Superintendent
Accused of Abusing District Finances
By Wendy Fry
NBC San Diego News
July 14, 2016
Dr. Randy Ward, Superintendent of the San Diego County
Office of Education, will be placed on paid administrative leave
after teachers, community leaders and parents demanded he be
NBC 7 has confirmed that Ward will be put on the paid leave pending
a forensic audit. The County Office of Education has not officially
announced information on Ward's current employment status.
Protesters say Ward was dishonest and abused district finances for
Ward has oversight over budgets and some legal matters for all 42
school district in the county.
San Ysidro teachers say because of Ward, they didn’t get the pay
raises in 2014.
At the time, the San Ysidro School District gave itself a negative
certification – meaning it couldn’t pay its bills. The County Office of
Education agreed with the district's assessment.
The teachers union now says the County Office of Education had it
all wrong. They say there was plenty of money.
So now, the teachers union is filing a lawsuit against the
County Office of Education. The suit names Ward and Chief
Finance Officer Laura Duzyk.
Another lawsuit filed by a taxpayers group represented
by attorney Cory Briggs alleges Ward and Duzyk gave
themselves unauthorized raises.
The County Office of Education is not commenting on pending
Follow us: @nbcsandiego on Twitter | NBCSanDiego on Facebook
Update January 2018
Diane Crosier is still director of risk
management at SDCOE.
She still "oversees" her former boss.
|News, information and ideas about our
by Maura Larkins
Did SDCOE Superintendent Randy Ward (who
has been placed on leave) and Lora Duzyk give
$100 public money to each SDCOE employee
(totaling $25,000) to cut short a workplace
Unusual County Office of Ed Giveaway
Sparked Internal Probe
VOSD Ashly McGlone July 26, 2016
County Office of Education employees who came to a gathering to
air workplace grievances were given vouchers to buy books and
school supplies. The catch: They were urged to leave the meeting
to spend them. The giveaway – which cost $25,0000 – raised
concerns internally that it could be seen as an illegal gift of public
On March 10, nearly 250 teachers and staff who serve the county’s
most troubled students gathered for a town hall meeting inside a
movie theater at the Mission Valley Hazard Center. They were
prepared to air their workplace grievances and get answers, but
what came to pass instead was a party.
Employees of the San Diego County Office of Education in
attendance all received $100 vouchers for use at the nearby
Barnes & Noble or Lakeshore Learning stores. The catch: The
money had to be spent on the spot, that same day, before 8 p.m.
Several teachers who were present said they were told they could
stay for the planned question and answer session or “vote with your
feet,” take the vouchers and go shopping. The vouchers could be
used for items that support employee or student learning.
The offer caused an exodus. Nearly everyone left the gathering and
filled the aisles of the two bookstores...
Paulette Donnellon (2016-)
Donnellon served on the Escondido
Union School District Board of Education
Mark Powell (2016-)
vice principal, and dean of students
Richard Shea (appointed
July 8, 2015)
Shea's personal history:
Special Assistant to the County
Superintendent of Schools (ret.)
[He was appointed by the
board in 2015 to "oversee"
his former boss!?]
(appointed Aug 2015)
Update: Most information about lawyers and members of committees has been
removed from SDCOE's website.
Two groups suing SDCOE
County superintendent to be placed
Officials accused of taking illegal
raises, mismangement, hit with lawsuit
By Maureen Magee and Christine Huard
July 14, 2016
Attorney Cory Briggs, who is suing Ward and Assistant
Superintendent of Business Services Lora Duzyk for the
California Taxpayers Action Network, said an audit and
paid leave for Ward would be appropriate.
“It protects the taxpayers, it protects the agency, and it
protects the accused,” Briggs said. “You want a financial
expert in there to trace the money — how was it supposed
to be spent and how was it actually spent. You don’t want
the evidence compromised, especially when you have
high-level people who are in charge. They are the
caretakers of the documents, they are the ones who can
In the lawsuit, Briggs alleges the superintendent paid
himself illegal retroactive increases without going to the
board, and accuses him of conflict of interest, self-dealing
and abuse of public office. A least $100,000 should be
paid back to taxpayers, Briggs said.
According to the lawsuit, Ward illegally
authorized salary boosts
for senior managers,
including Duzyk. Duzyk is
accused of acting
improperly in her role as
chief financial officer.
Ward was hired as county superintendent in 2006 and
signed a $265,000 contract, which has been amended
over the years with retroactive salary increases that
raised his base compensation to $331,736. In 2010, he
took a 3.8 percent increase that the board had approved
two years earlier but he opted to postpone.
Briggs said the lawsuit also takes aim at the structure and
governance of county offices of education, which he said
give superintendents too much authority.
A separate claim filed July 1 by attorney Michael Aguirre
seeks wages and benefits San Ysidro employees allege
they lost from 2013 to 2015 when the county office had
financial oversight of the district while it was on the brink
At the time, Duzyk had been appointed by Ward to serve
as San Ysidro’s fiscal adviser and was working with school
officials to balance the district’s budget.
A precursor to a lawsuit, the claim accuses Ward and
Duzyk of hiding money from the district to cover up its true
fiscal condition. Members of the San Ysidro Education
Association and California School Employees Association
allege the two were intent on taking over the district.
San Diego County Superintendent of
Schools To Retire Amid Investigation
BREAKING: The county Board of Education
announced it reached a settlement Tuesday night with
Superintendent Randy Ward.
By Southern California Patch (Patch Staff)
September 14, 2016
SAN DIEGO, CA — San Diego County Superintendent
of Schools Randy Ward, who has been on paid
administrative leave pending an investigation into his
compensation, will retire in November, according to a
statement by the County Board of Education.
"The Board and Superintendent Ward have reached a
settlement, under the terms of which Dr. Ward will
advance his retirement date to November 15, 2016,
from what was scheduled to be June 30, 2017. Dr.
Ward and the Board have agreed that it would be in
the best interests of all involved to reach an amicable
separation at this point in time," the statement said.
"We want to thank Dr. Ward for his 10 years of service
as County Superintendent. We also wish to reiterate
that the placement of Dr. Ward on leave was not, nor
was it intended to be, any kind of assertion that the
allegations of the California Taxpayers Action Network
lawsuit have any merit."
The statement was released Tuesday night after a
special meeting of the board.
The Taxpayers Action Network sued Ward in July,
claiming he illegally awarded himself undue
compensation. That led the board to place Ward on
paid administrative leave pending an audit.
Get free real-time news alerts from the La Mesa-Mount
Ward reportedly will receive $35,000 for legal
expenses as part of the settlement.
Schools run by the county include those for
incarcerated youngsters, foster kids and homeless
children. The County Office of Education also
oversees the budgets of 42 school districts in San
— City News Service
Update September 2016
With Randy Ward being investigated, is something finally going
to be done about conflicts of interest at SDCOE?
I wouldn't hold my breath. SDCOE has successfully protecting its
corrupt culture since long before Randy Ward came to town.
The SDCOE board is a joke. These people were chosen because
they are rubber stamps. The lawyers and administrators run the
show, plus the heirarchy of powerful players in insurance
companies, state commissions, and political players.
Gregg Robinson, Ph.D. (2012-2016)
Mark Anderson (2008-2016)
Dr. Paul Gothold
San Diego County
Superintendent of Schools
Business as usual at SDCOE. When will they investigate gifts to SDCOE administrators?
Alicia Muñoz District 3, Guadalupe González District 2, Rick Shea District 5, Mark Powell
District 1, Paulette Donnellon District 4
Edward Velasquez retired as the
County Superintendent in June 2017
Poway Unified is the extremely disreputable school district that saddled
future citizens with a billion dollars in interest to pay for a $105 million in
Capital Appreciation (CAB) bonds.
Shame on SDCOE board member Rick Shea for calling Poway "an exemplary
school district" and voting to keep corrupt Poway board members in office with a
gerrymandered voting map. Shame on Mark Powell and Paulette Donnellon for
also supporting the Poway board majority instead of the public.
SDCOE does not work to make our schools better. It works to protect people who
are in power.