Keashonna Christopher, a counselor at Porter Elementary School, shows the school’s mission for each student. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz
Keashonna Christopher, a counselor at Porter Elementary School, shows the school’s mission for each student. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Porter Elementary School in southeastern San Diego is quickly becoming another symbol for the San Diego Unified School District’s inability to provide students with a safe and equitable education.

Will Huntsberry writes about efforts to help the school, which is on the state’s list of lowest-performing schools, because of its high absenteeism, high suspension rate and abysmal test scores. Eight other traditional public schools in San Diego Unified School District are also on the list.

At a recent meeting, district staff brought up strategies they are using to improve school safety, but never addressed the charge they are denying special education services. A 25-minute presentation, full of buzzwords and synergy-infused jargon, was more often unintelligible than enlightening.

Porter Principal Graciela Chavez and Area Superintendent Bruce Bivens continually referred back to a new mantra for the school: “Porter is a safe, collaborative and inclusive culture.” Several community speakers, after the presentation, savaged the idea that this was the true reality of Porter’s campus.

But the presentation suggested Bivens and Chavez have no plans for new strategies, at the moment. They implemented reforms at the beginning of the school year, they said, and plan to see them through.

Opinion: San Diego Is Ignoring Fire Risk

Tiffany Yap, a scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental nonprofit, argues that San Diego officials who have approved housing projects in fire-prone areas are recklessly short sighted.

California can’t solve its housing shortages with homes that are essentially built to burn,” she writes.

As we’ve reported, county officials have approved or are in the process of considering thousands of new homes to be built in high risk areas. In many cases, developers argue that putting more modern homes in these areas can actually reduce fire risk.

Our Water Department Coverage Made a Splash

Our joint investigation with NBC San Diego of the city’s water department won the annual media watchdog award from the San Diego County Taxpayers Association Thursday night.

The investigation started way back in 2017 when customers began getting unreasonably high water bills from the city. At first, city officials said nothing unusual was going on and, at one point, even blamed people for using more water than normal because they had guests over for the holidays.

But by February 2018, city officials had begun to admit to errors, indicating the city was no longer able to perform basic functions, like selling water and charging customers for it. They said a meter reader had made up hundreds of meter readings. Then officials began to confess that they had more problems than just one rogue employee. At least 2,750 customers had received erroneous bills because of mistakes by city staff – roughly the same number of erroneous readings VOSD and NBC had estimated officials would uncover.

In the course of that reporting, we uncovered that the city’s ambitious plan to replace every water meter in the city with a new “smart” meter had fundamental flaws. Namely, one of the manufacturers had admitted their product had a defect. San Diego water officials had been aware of problems with its meters but lied to cover up the problems. By contrast, water officials in a nearby city had run into similar problems, admitted their mistake and started replacing malfunctioning meters.

Since then, several people have left or been asked to leave the city water department and officials have paused the smart meter program, though it’s unclear if they have any plan to deal with the unknown number of faulty meters that may be in the ground.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Ry Rivard, and edited by Sara Libby.

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