One thing that’s become clear as Voice of San Diego has spent more than a year investigating cases of teacher misconduct in local public schools: School officials’ handling of these cases can sometimes cause as much anger and chaos as the misconduct itself.
That seems to be the case at Westview High School in Poway, where the family of a girl who received inappropriate text messages over two years from a teacher is continuing to press the case and demand the teacher face more serious discipline.
School officials told the family they disciplined the teacher but declined to say what the discipline was. Records recently released to VOSD show the discipline was a letter warning the teacher not to re-offend.
The teacher, and the district, defended the punishment and said it’s appropriate given that he wasn’t found to have committed any inappropriate touching, just texts.
The family says it’s especially angered that the slap on the wrist means the teacher won’t be reported to the state agency that handles teacher credentialing.
Which brings us to …
That agency, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing, is in its own type of crisis as it juggles a staggering number of cases and other challenges.
The attorney general’s office spelled out a number of concerns with how the agency handles cases, and is proposing steps it can take to lighten the load. VOSD’s Kayla Jimenez breaks down the problems the AG identified, as well as the steps the agency says it’s taking to right the ship.
Environmental Fights Over the Border Barrier Are Going Strong
San Diego’s strange role as host to several border wall prototypes — a wall being such a vague concept to grasp we needed multiple physical representations to wrap our minds around it — is over. The wall prototypes are gone, and now construction of a secondary border barrier is underway.
Fights over that barrier, particularly its impact on the environment, are going strong, Maya Srikrishnan writes in this week’s Border Report.
A court has previously OK’d the government’s decision to waive environmental laws to speed up border construction. But one environmental attorney said he still believes opponents have a strong case: “It is clear to us that this waiver authority wasn’t supposed to be in perpetuity. It would mean DHS has the authority to waive any laws it wants along the border forever — which is crazy — so we certainly hope for a better outcome in the other cases.”
City Ends Requirement That New Apartments Near Transit Provide Parking
New apartment and condo buildings near transit stations will no longer be forced to provide parking in their projects, after the City Council voted Monday to do away with city development rules.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer proposed the changes after city staff conducted a study that said the rules discouraged housing production and made units more expensive while making it harder for the city to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets.
Late last year, Voice’s Lisa Halverstadt covered the proposal, which later became a key cog in the mayor branding himself a YIMBY – for “yes in my backyard” – to dramatically encourage more home-building citywide.
Councilwoman Jen Campbell was the only member to vote against the measure, arguing the city shouldn’t make driving less attractive until it has already improved its public transit system.
The city’s new rules still allow developers to build parking, they just wouldn’t require it at the current rate. And any parking that is included in developments would be “unbundled,” meaning renters who don’t have a car could opt not to rent a parking space, rather than having a parking space included as a required part of their apartment lease.
Controversial Water Project Is Back in the Spotlight
The Washington Post looks into Cadiz, a controversial project to bring water into Southern California from the Mojave Desert.
The story has some good info about why the project is newly relevant. But it doesn’t get into perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the project, which is its strong ties to a law firm that has for years advised the San Diego County Water Authority. In 2009, Scott Slater, an attorney at the firm who is now Cadiz’s CEO and has been a long-time adviser to the Water Authority, gave the Water Authority a chance to buy water from Cadiz. The deal never happened. In an unrelated move, the Water Authority voted last week to pay $850,000 more to Brownstein for ongoing legal work. The firm has received over $25 million from the Water Authority over the past quarter-century.
AOC Calls Out Vargas on Twitter
San Diego’s Congressional Rep. Juan Vargas tweeted about how disturbing he found one of his colleagues’ comments about Israel, which he called anti-Semitic misrepresentations. Then he wrote “Additionally, questioning support for the U.S.-Israel relationship is unacceptable.” That triggered a hostile query from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has 3.4 million followers (compared to Vargas’ 20,000). She wanted to know what he meant. “I remember a time when it was ‘unacceptable’ to question the Iraq War,” she wrote.
In Other News
- Jason Roe, the Republican political consultant who’s worked with Mayor Kevin Faulconer and District Attorney Summer Stephan, is “all but leaving politics.” He said the only 2020 campaign he’ll work on is for Kristin Gaspar, though it’s not clear yet what race she’ll join. (Independent Voter Network)
- Councilman Chris Ward plans to propose a “cannabis equity” program that would help low-income residents open marijuana businesses. (Union-Tribune)
- The silver lining to lots of rain, most residents seem to reason, is that the storms replenish the county’s water supply. The truth is, though, that San Diego County is limited in how much rainwater it can capture, one official told KPBS.
Our story on an internal Democratic Party fight over several South Bay clubs mischaracterized the rules regarding academic clubs. They are not required to meet on their respective campuses.
The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby, and edited by Scott Lewis.