Valley Center High School in Valley Center on Aug. 1, 2023.
Valley Center High School in Valley Center on Aug. 1, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

The Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District has more indigenous students than any other district in San Diego County, and it’s also suspending them the most.

The district has a roughly 14 percent suspension rate for indigenous students, which is more than double its suspension rate for Latino children and nearly three times the suspension rate for White children.

Education reporter Jakob McWhinney found that the district is essentially suspending so many indigenous students that it has inflated the suspension rate of the entire county.

Around 15 percent of all indigenous students in county schools attend Valley Center-Pauma Unified, but the district accounts for around 38 percent of Indigenous student suspensions and around 42.5 percent of the total suspensions issued.

It’s not the only one: There are three other school districts that suspend indigenous students at unprecedented rates, and they’re all in North County.

Bonsall Unified, San Dieguito Unified and Carlsbad Unified also have high suspension rates for indigenous students.

Long-term impacts: McWhinney spoke to tribal members and experts about the treatment of indigenous students in schools and how suspensions can impact children in the long run, making them less likely to succeed academically, more likely to get in trouble with the law and, among indigenous communities especially, more likely to fall into substance abuse.

Read the full story here. 

Environment Report: Why Small Water Districts Want More Voting Power

San Diego County Water Authority meeting in Kearny Mesa on July 27, 2023.

Small and rural water districts want more power when it comes to water decisions, and they may be willing to sacrifice their local control to get it.

Some Background: After two small rural farming communities attempted to divorce from the San Diego County Water Authority, Assemblymember Tasha Boerner, a Democrat from Encinitas, created a bill that would require voters to approve an agency’s bid to leave. 

The bill is backed by the city of San Diego, but it may not have the votes to pass.

The offer: That’s where Gary Arant, general manager of the Valley Center Municipal Water District, comes in. He convinced his board to make an offer to Boerner: we’ll support your bill that hurts our local control, if you give small water districts more voting power over the Water Authority.

How it works now: The biggest water buyers (aka the biggest cities) currently get the most votes or most appointed directors to the Water Authority’s 36-member board. The city of San Diego gets 10 board members, representing nearly 40 percent of the vote, and therefore has the most say on water decisions.

What this would mean: Right now, there’s a serious financial problem at the Water Authority. It’s selling way less water than it was 10 years ago, and its expenses are significantly outweighing its revenues. Not to mention the $2 billion in debt the Water Authority is still paying off.

Larger water districts like the city of San Diego plan to start recycling and drinking their own wastewater by 2035, but that’s not an option for water districts with smaller populations. These smaller districts will always be fully dependent on the Water Authority.

That’s why they want more voting power – if things keep going the way they are, small water districts want to make sure San Diego continues to help pay off the Water Authority’s debt.

Read the Environment Report here. 

In Other News

  • County officials have now paid out $10 million in cash settlements to 21 victims of a former sheriff’s deputy convicted for a series of on-duty sexual assaults. That means San Diego taxpayers have paid more than $11 million for Richard Fischer’s sexual misconduct, including the more than $1 million the county paid for his private attorney. Fischer was released from the county jail last week months earlier than his original release date. (Union-Tribune)
  • Recent reports, including one by the California State Auditor, found the Cal State University system lacks a reliable way to collect data on unwanted sexual conduct incidents by Cal State employees. Cal State’s 23 campuses don’t accurately track the volume of sexual harassment, and they can’t pinpoint trends in specific academic programs, locations or even specific employees, the reports said. (CalMatters)
  • The North County Transit District Executive Director Matthew O. Tucker announced Monday he will retire Sept. 1 after nearly 15 years with the agency and 30 years in public transit. (Union-Tribune)
  • A portion of the old San Diego-Tijuana border fence near Friendship Park is being demolished to make way for a new barrier. It’s the final piece of a years-long effort to replace aging border structures. (Union-Tribune)

The Morning Report was written by Tigist Layne. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.

Join the Conversation


  1. I missed the explanation in the article on Suspension Rates of Indigenous Students. Why are these students being suspended?

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