Abraham Lincoln High School / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

A forum about the future of Lincoln High School this week didn’t go as planned.

A couple whose sons previously attended Lincoln became so disruptive that the event shut down early and panelists were shuttled out to their cars.

That’s not just a shame because it shortchanged the community members looking for answers from the school and community leaders there. It’s also disappointing because the outburst seems to have overshadowed some truly troubling perspective that school leaders did provide before the disruption.

The Union-Tribune’s coverage of the event is centered on the couple’s outburst. But farther down, reporter Kristen Taketa describes some deeply paternalistic lecturing from school board president Richard Barrera:

“Barrera said much of a student’s success comes from parents, and if active and involved parents choose to have their kids attend neighborhood schools like Lincoln, rather than leaving for other schools, they can bring a lot of investment and influence to benefit Lincoln,” Taketa wrote.

Video of the event also shows Barrera – speaking at an event meant to illuminate how the district would answer for Lincoln’s ongoing struggles instead placing the blame and the burden on parents, who he suggests need to become more involved and invested in their kids’ educations.

Imagine telling a group of people who proactively demanded a meeting, and who took time from their day to trudge to a community center in a pandemic, that their involvement was the issue.

Barrera’s comments are even more insulting when you remember how he and other members of the school board reacted to Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe’s initial letter outlining concerns about the school – concerns brought to her by the community – by telling her that she was the problem. They also insisted a community meeting wasn’t necessary.

Trustee Sharon Whitehurst Payne wrote to Montgomery Steppe: “Finally, we will not respond to your suggestion that we hold a meeting to ‘potentially choose the next principal of LHS,’ as we find the quality of the current leader to be exceptional.”

San Diego Unified apparently hired another co-principal for Lincoln after this letter was published, despite the current leader being so exceptional as to override any potential discussion. The Union-Tribune casually included the fact that new co-principal Melissa Agudelo was in attendance at the meeting – and yet the leadership shakeup that led to her hiring is precisely what led to the latest round of infighting over Lincoln to begin with.

After the last year and a half, in which parents have been the primary custodians of their kids’ education – forced to be surrogate educators, tech support, PE teachers and more – telling parents that they should just try a little harder is perhaps the worst, most dismissive insult I can think of.

What VOSD Learned This Week

The Coronado High basketball team came under fire when supporters threw tortillas at an opposing team, but several former CHS athletes and even a coach said they experienced racist behavior from their own teammates, classmates and Coronado community members.

In other education news, we created an incredibly useful new metric for understanding test scores in the region – and it shows some high-poverty schools are doing much better than you’d expect.


The lenders for Civic Center Plaza, which houses hundreds of city employees, have moved to evict the city after it stopped paying rent. A scathing audit this week concluded City Attorney Mara Elliott and her predecessor didn’t sufficiently communicate the risks involved in the 101 Ash St. and other recent real estate debacles – and she responded by suggesting she should have more power. Meanwhile, another bad real estate is still costing the city millions, and the city still can’t use the space the way it was intended.


Former Mayor Kevin Faulconer will be listed as a “businessman” on the recall ballot. Andrew Keatts figured out what his business is, but it’s still not clearly what he’s actually doing, or how often he’s doing it. His changes of ousting Gov. Gavin Newsom might be bolstered if COVID-19 continues surging. The city and county are now pursuing vaccine mandates or regular testing for employees as a result.

Over in Chula Vista, pols are fighting over … gift bags for seniors, and birthday email messages.

What I’m Reading

Line of the Week

“Call it ‘Final Destination’ Syndrome. Like the premise of that 2000 horror flick, there’s a pernicious belief that there’s no cheating death when it’s your time. If you don’t die of COVID, it could be a heart attack, or if not a heart attack then a freak accident. It’s a defeatist belief masquerading as faith. It pretends to be a sort of spiritual surrender but really, it’s Russian Roulette. It’s recklessness dressing up as religion.” – Preach.

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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