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School Board Considers Football Player Expulsion; Resolution May Lead to 32 Pink Slips

School Board Members held a special meeting Tuesday to consider potential teacher layoffs and student expulsion cases.

School board members have approved a service reduction resolution that may lead to 32 layoff notices for teachers and other certificated staff members. They also took up a student expulsion case that prompted a dozen parents and coaches to attend the special Tuesday night in support of a football player.

Resolution 1847, approved unanimously by the four board members present, calls for reducing some services and programs for the 2011-2012 school year. (School Board President Charlie Mensinger was delayed in travel and not present.) It clears the way for 32 layoffs in those programs.

Programs facing cuts include elementary science, junior high math, culture and community, high school math, high school English, chemistry and biological sciences. You may read the complete resolution here.

“Once I have identified the credential area, then by California Education Code I must find the least senior employee who possess that credential to determine who will actually receive a preliminary lay off notice,” Human Resource Director Timothy Erwin said in an e-mail message to Newark Patch. "By law these preliminary notices must be given to the employee no later than March 15.  With retirements and resignations we will issue a total of 32 preliminary notices.”

Newark Teachers Association President Chris Baugh says his constituents disagree with the service reduction resolution.

“The Newark Teachers Association is upset over the number of certificated employees the District is looking to decrease,” Baugh said in an e-mail message. “We do not understand how, when classes are already capped at 34, the school district plans to eliminate this number of services. The district's enrollment data that they use to calculate the number of fulltime employees (FTE) has been wrong the past three years, and we question whether the data used this time is inaccurate as well.” 

Also at Tuesday night’s meeting, coaches and parents protested the proposed expulsion of a Newark Memorial junior who may have been connected to a shouting match over the fatal stabbing of NMHS student Justice Afoa last year.

Board members voted to approve student expulsion case no. e1011-11 with the modification that the student may continue this education through independent study at his home.

About a dozen parents and football coach Rich Swift say they disagreed with a panel’s recommendation to expel football player and Newark Memorial junior Osana Futi.

“I believe this young man deserved our ‘A’ game,” Swift said during a public comment period before board members discussed the case in a closed meeting. “I don’t believe we gave it to him.”

According to Swift, Futi was in a world of hurt over the death of his best friend, Justice Afoa, when he got into an argument with other students on campus.

On March 15, it will be three months since Afoa, , died from multiple stab wounds on a sidewalk near Cedar Boulevard and Birch Street. Futi joined football players in carrying Afoa’s casket and sharing his last memories of his friend during a Dec. 26 service. The next day, Futi helped bury Afoa.

So far, no arrests have been made in this case.

Newark Booster President Stacy Kelly asked board members to reconsider the recommendation to expel Futi.

“The information provided to the administrative panel to the Newark Unified School District is incomplete, exaggerated and contains irrelevant information that portrays Osana as a violent monster that does not deserve to be educated by NUSD,” Kelly said in a prepared statement delivered during the public comment period.

According to Kelly, records show Futi was accused of threatening another student’s life during the verbal exchange. Kelly said that Futi was responding to the other student’s alleged remarks that Afoa deserved to be killed.

Swift agreed with Kelly, saying he couldn’t imagine how he would have dealt with that situation.

“I’m 58 years old. I don’t think I could have handled that type of remark,” Swift said.

During the meeting, Board Vice President Ray Rodriguez said the independent study recommendation was for the sake of safety.

“Safety is a very strong issue, especially at the high school,” Rodriguez said during the meeting. “We want to let parents know, from the time they drop off their kids at school to when they pick them up, that their kids are safe.”

Expulsion should be the last resort for any student, said Swift.

“I’ve never had a kid expelled who was a football player,” Swift said. “I understand expelling a kid for guns or drugs. This was a screaming offense. It’s not the same.”

Swift and parents disagreed with other records in the expulsion packet that labeled Futi as an alleged gang member.

“Osana is not a gang member. I’ve known kids who were gang members in my class,” Swift said. “They were always respectful. I didn’t have a negative experience with them in my 33 years of teaching.”

Kelly said she helped Futi’s family file the paperwork to appeal his expulsion with the Alameda County Office of Education Wednesday.

To review Tuesday's meeting agenda, go here.

Albert Rubio March 17, 2011 at 06:46 AM
Thank you for your answer Chris. I have a few points to make: 1. Prop 98 requires a minimum PERCENTAGE of the state budget for K-14. What do you mean a "suspension" of prop 98? Do you literally mean THE LAW (prop 98) has been suspended? or are you describing the declining tax base? (Which I would not call a suspension of prop 98). 2. Are you able to determine what an absolute ceiling would be? What is the maximum percentage of the national product that should go to government schools? 3. Why from 48th to the top in spending? This is not an objective measure. It makes a constant argument for all other 49 states to take up the same argument in a revolving upward spiral. >> "The richest 10% of citizens control over 70% of the wealth. We don't think that's right. We believe the collective corporate tax should exceed or at least be equal to the amount collected through personal income tax." Are your opinions amendable by economic reasoning? If at all, I want to share with you the best single book I know: http://www.fee.org/pdf/books/Economics_in_one_lesson.pdf If you browse it and wish to discuss it, feel free to contact me. Regards
Nadja Adolf March 17, 2011 at 07:35 AM
I would be more inclined to support a bond measure if the Newark School District did the following: -released a complete line item budget from the finance office -released a complete line item budget and expenditures from last year -quit providing free housing to non-profits which is likely a violation of state law -quit endorsing every tax measure offered by other agencies. In my area many people voted for Measure U because the literature misled the public into believing that passing the measure would somehow help schools. It seems some people feel duped - which is their own problem since it isn't like the No on U group didn't tell them to read the actual measure in depth.
Chris Baugh March 17, 2011 at 02:37 PM
For more on the official teacher union stance on this issue I would recommend going to www.cta.org and on the main page click on "Restore Tax Fairness, Restore Schools".
Chris Baugh March 17, 2011 at 02:45 PM
Prop 98 being suspended means that the legislature by a 2/3 vote can suspend the percentage guaranteed to local school districts and universities. What is particularly devastating is that the legislature has applied several one-time ADA cuts under the guise that "it's not a suspension of Prop 98". However, when education is cut by $18 billion in three years TO the minimum amount guaranteed, I believe there is no argument that this is crushing California schools. Also, they apply a deficit factor to the amount financed. Currently, the deficit factor is 19.608%. What that means is while the Prop 98 guarantee is 100%, they are actually funding 81 cents on every dollar with the promise "to pay it back later". On average, the state spends less than 47 other states. To me, that signals that education is not a budget priority in Sacramento. It's like they are saying, well we used to give you what you needed to survive, now we cannot. California's tax structure and school finance structures are broken, and do require an immediate fix, otherwise we are looking at the eventual privatization of all California public schools.
Bob Marshall March 17, 2011 at 02:59 PM
I would be more inclined to support a bond measure if the Newark School District did the following first: -form a Landscaping and Lighting District (maybe along with the City of Newark) to pay for school grounds maintenance and lighting (along with parks, medians, sound walls, etc.). This would free up a good amount of money for the general funds of both entities. -closed the two schools that are not needed (Lincoln and one of three others) -sell all the surplus school property (Ruschi, Sam Scott Field, etc.) -reopen negotiations with the unions to try to get them to help out by forestalling any raises; and assuming a larger share of health and retirement costs. -reconsider current upper management positions and get people with vision and an ability to manage. Furloughs are not the answer (hurts the kids); less instructional days is not the answer (hurts the kids); higher class sizes are not the answer (hurts the kids); fewer teachers, councilors, site administrators are not the answer (hurts the kids); taxes are not the answer (hurts everybody else).
Albert Rubio March 17, 2011 at 03:48 PM
>> To me, that signals that education is not a budget priority in Sacramento. It's like they are saying, well we used to give you what you needed to survive, now we cannot. If you live by the political sword, you die by the political sword. Politics can never override the limits of economic law or reality. We have seen this in all socialist states and will see them again in time. >>California's tax structure and school finance structures are broken, and do require an immediate fix, otherwise we are looking at the eventual privatization of all California public schools. Why do you favor socialized schools over voluntary schools? If you refer to the book I shared, any "immediate fix" you refer to will do no good but create more harm. I believe in politically free schools and free and open society. Your suggestions are antithetical to this. I know we differ and we don't need to carry a debate here.
Chris Baugh March 17, 2011 at 04:18 PM
Voluntary schools, school vouchers, and charter schools are not the answer. "Waiting for Superman" fixes are not the answer. All research suggests that the best public schools far outshine the best private schools. I guess it depends on what lens you look through. Do we need reform? Undoubtedly so. But reform at the expense of public education is not something I'm prepared to let happen. If we disagree, so be it. If you want to label me a "socialist", so be it.
Mona Taplin March 17, 2011 at 04:34 PM
I did read the provisions of Measure U, and I was 100% sure it was a City of Newrk issue and NOT a school district matter. I didn't see anything on there that suggested it would be a help to the school district. I wasn't duped, and I did vote YES on U in the hope that we would be able to bring our Police Force back up to full strength, and I am happy I did. If you are referring to School Crossing Guards,- they never were paid by the school district. I was a crossing guard for several years. My husband is one of the crossing guards who lost his job in the economic crunch. Our pay came from the City budget,- NOT the school disrict's. Not understanding what one votes for is NOT being duped. The literature for Yes on U was NOT misleading.
Mona Taplin March 17, 2011 at 04:40 PM
Which already crowded school would you put the students in if we closed two schools? You are talking about moving at least 1,000 kids. Allowing free rent is a kick in the butt to tax payers.
Nadja Adolf March 17, 2011 at 05:19 PM
OK, but here's the problem, Chris. Perhaps the "best public schools outshine the best private schools" is true in your mind - but the admissions offices at the Ivy League and the top tier public universities disagree with that opinion. The real issue here in Newark has nothing to do with the "best public schools." It has to do with the fact that we have two schools on Open Enrollment status - if the state did not cap the number of schools per district on OE we would have more - two schools that had no or partial heat, which Ms. Thomas assures me wasn't really a problem; a high school with toxic chemicals which Mr. Mensinger assured me wasn't a problem; a board and administration that do special favors for some residents while treating others, such as Osana's parents with complete contempt (I have the utmost respect for Mr. Rodriguez and little or none for the superintendent and the administration) - this tactic is generally referred to as bribery in most areas; we had potentially deadly boilers up and running at MacGregor; and we have an assortment of non-profits in Ruschin School, at least some of which aren't paying their rent - and the Board is more concerned about whether or not the non-profits go out of business than the maximizing of facilities for the benefit of the school children by moving those from unheated schools to Ruschin.
Nadja Adolf March 17, 2011 at 05:21 PM
Mona, for the last several years the Crossing Guards were paid for by the city, as is the common practice in California. California law actually stipulates that fines and traffic offense fees are to be used for traffic control measures, including school crossing guards. I wonder where all of the red light camera moneys went?
Nadja Adolf March 17, 2011 at 05:24 PM
Bob, teachers already pay about $1,000 per month for their healthcare costs. I'd look at the classified employees and the administrators. I also find it fascinating that the schoolboard receives free medical, dental, and vision; a $242/month salary; and retirement benefits based on that salary. It seems like public service has become self service.
Mona Taplin March 17, 2011 at 05:52 PM
I am very well aware of those facts Nadja. You said that Measure U literature misled people into believing that the schools would benefit from it's passing. The only thing I saw in that literature was about School Crossing Guards. Nothing misleading there. No reason anyone should feel "duped" if they look at what they are voting for. The red light cameras? There has been a lot in the news about the money collected from them going to pay the companies that install those cameras. What are you implying? Maybe someone from the City staff will enlighten us on this subject rather than have people automatically think someone is misusing that money. Kris Vera Phillips,- this subject has come up a couple of times. Can you provide an article on this subject which seems to have a bit of interest for the folks writing here?Red light cameras, their use and effectiveness and where the money collected in fines goes?
Mona Taplin March 17, 2011 at 05:56 PM
$242 a month with free medical, dental and vision would be a bargain cost for a good School Board. Again,- look at qualifications before you vote! Know who you are voting for.
Chris Baugh March 17, 2011 at 05:58 PM
You speak of issues on which I completely agree Nadja. I'm sorry for the short-toned attitude I've been taking. Dealing with the fallout of 45 (not 32) pinkslips going out has weighed on my conscience, my sleep, and in turn my communication with people. Sorry to you all. We can disagree professionally and have candid debate. It's just so hard when I've seen good teachers leave the District because the District wasn't quick enough or unable to bring them back, and for me, while all these other problems do exist and are valid, it's a pure California funding flaw in my eyes as the reason we are in this predicament.
Mona Taplin March 17, 2011 at 06:06 PM
Whar were the favors that the board and administration granted to some residents? Nadja, you have mentioned this a couple times, but have not explained what you mean. Enlighten us please.
Mona Taplin March 17, 2011 at 06:21 PM
Chris, proper funding will never come about until California has a separate tax for schools free of loop holes that the state can not dip into for any other purpose. I hate to see good teachers lost to Newark too, but I am in favor of getting rid of tenure and keeping teachers on a merit basis. One year in a poor techers classroom can be a devastating eductional loss for students.
Albert Rubio March 17, 2011 at 09:15 PM
>>If we disagree, so be it. If you want to label me a "socialist", so be it. please don't misunderstand me. I am not using labels or slurs of any kind. I am using the dictionary definition of the term to describe accurately my question regarding the political-social organization of public schooling. You may or may not own the name of "socialist" but the public schools are clearly socialized by definition.
Bob Marshall March 17, 2011 at 10:41 PM
My wife will skewer me but, Mona: Per the NUSD web site, Lincoln has 380 students, and several other schools have less than 400 students. Where do you come up with 1,000 students for two schools? Add that to the fact that many of our sites will accommodate enrollments twice this size, where's the problem? Per the web site, we have 568 kids at Bunker, one of the two highest rated schools in our District. Having more than 400 kids doesn't seem to hurt this site too much.
Mona Taplin March 18, 2011 at 12:16 AM
I was under the impression that Graham had more students than that. That still would mean transferring at least 700 kids if we close two schools. There have been efforts to close Graham for many years. The question still remains where would we put that many kids? The way I understand it, the reason Bunker gets such a high raating is because it has had a great Principal and teaching staff with a lot of stress on motivating children to working hard. Why don't we have the same in every school in Newark???
Bob Marshall March 18, 2011 at 12:40 AM
O.K. let's do the math...close Lincoln and Musick (770 kids); you put 193 at Snow, which increases them to 594 (one more class than Bunker); 193 at Milanie which increases them to 577 (less than one more class than Bunker); 193 at Kennedy which increases them to 575 (again less than one more class than Bunker); 97 at Graham which puts them a 578 (again less than one more class than Bunker; and the rest (99) will be lost to declining enrollment.
Mona Taplin March 18, 2011 at 02:24 AM
I misspoke before. It's Lincoln that they have attempted to close so many times for years. I don't think the transfer would go anywhere near as smoothly as your figures indicate and it would send too many of our young children too far out of their home area,as well as some being sent to schools that are already failing miserably. I would strongly consider homeschooling before I'd permit one of my children to be juggled around like that.
Nadja Adolf March 18, 2011 at 04:34 AM
I think we should close Snow or Bunker - those are the schools without heat. Better to be transferred than to be too cold to study. The reality is that almost all Newark schools are failing miserably - which is why I don't think the school board should be getting free medical, dental, vision, etc. They don't produce. Special favors? Keeping kids in school whom the teachers think belong in the special inter-district program for the emotionally disturbed; getting kids into special programs who really don't belong there; letting parents from some neighborhoods find it easier to get an inter or intra district transfer; not suspending or penalizing violent or disruptive children when the parents complain loudly enough if they come from certain neighborhoods. Or how about the "special favor" done for L.O.V. Newark - they don't have to pay the rent they owe the district and they get one of the buildings in better condition while students at MacGregor were in a school with boilers that could have taken out the whole block.
Nadja Adolf March 18, 2011 at 04:39 AM
Here is more on how our School Board fails. We have two schools on OE; two schools that lacked heat; toxic chemicals in the high school so what does our board do? They create a dramatic, likely expensive, and meaningless push to have a "mandatory" A-G curriculum that will require all high school students to complete the four year university requirements. But there is one problem with this; most Newark students are so ill-prepared for high school that actually enforcing a mandatory, required A-G curriculum would mean that the drop out rate would go from the current somewhere between 17% - 19% up to closer to 30%. So, the real proposed policy "mandates" the A-G curriculum until the Junior year - at which point students may "opt-out" and complete a non-college preparatory curriculum in order to graduate. What does this mean? Nothing. What does this change? Nothing. The high school already offers the A-G curriculum with several pathways for those whose preparation is shaky, if they are so inclined. What does it do? It gives the School Board public positive attention for making the non-existent big change. What is the school board's justification for the policy when these questions are raised? Well, the school board assumes that if something isn't required that the students' and their families are too stupid to know it exists and to enroll in it. All it will do is nothing other than cost money and make noise.
Nadja Adolf March 18, 2011 at 06:40 AM
Well, Measure U was misleading - after the legislation was passed, the city government proceeded to announce that they were not going to reinstitute crossing guards while hiring assorted consultants related to the development games at City Hall. The last thing Newark needs is the liability associated with allowing construction on the the soils adjacent to the Bay with their extreme risk of liquefaction and flooding; Newark officials falsely claim that they can sign an agreement with the developer to remove liability - not so under California law. The idea is that a golf development would attract executives to Newark. The problem is that the Newark schools stink; and if anyone in the city actually read the weekend real estate pages instead of only listening to developer sales pitches, they'd find that advertising designed to attract executives and professionals focuses on school quality, not golf. Executives might play golf; but they join private clubs for business reasons and very few public courses attract the higher income brackets. In Palo Alto, the main discovery of one of their course surveys was that most of their public course players were from out of town because golf is declining in Palo Alto and affluent serious golfers preferred private clubs. Newark has no suitable land to build a Desert Willow Golf Resort grade public course - nor would we tend to have $16 million lying around to improve it every few years like Palm Desert.
Nadja Adolf March 18, 2011 at 06:50 AM
And it gets sillier than that - according to the Pennell Center for Real Estate Development at Clemson University, golf is no longer an upper class sport and is now middle class. The primary author is a past President and CEO of the National Golf Foundation who has been a high level executive with the Ben Hogan Company and Ben Hogan Properties, the owners of Pebble Beach. See http://www.costar.com/josre/pdfs/JOSREMay2010SustainableGolfCourses.pdf
Nadja Adolf March 18, 2011 at 07:15 AM
Actually, according to the article that I posted above, golf is going the way of hoop skirts and bell line petticoats. http://www.costar.com/josre/pdfs/JOSREMay2010SustainableGolfCourses.pdf The author has spent 25 years in the golf industry, and he doesn't think that there is the public interest in "world class" golfing facilities that civic boosters claim. In fact, he thinks that golf has serious problems. In any event, Newark has no suitable location for a decent golf course, let alone a world class golf course. Saline infiltration, the Newark winds, and many other site related issues make it unlikely that a Newark course could compete even with Palo Alto, or the one up at the Marina on the West side.
Bob Marshall March 18, 2011 at 02:53 PM
I read the article...it seems to be more of a case for environmentally safe golf courses, than an indictment of golf courses in general. I can surmise by your comments that you are NOT a golfer. But how does golf courses relate to a discussion about schools?
Mona Taplin March 18, 2011 at 04:34 PM
Like I said,- pros and cons only. You just stated some very good cons. That's all that was needed, without the articles and comments about hoop skirts and bell line petticoats to cloud the issue.
Adil Khan June 07, 2011 at 08:09 PM
His friend gets stabbed and he gets expelled? Where are the counselors and school psychiatrist? Is he really getting the mental support he needs from the football team? I doubt they can guarantee his safety on campus if he's gotten into arguments with people, thats just not right to expel him for it, kids nowadays are dealing with extreme circumstances, and need proper resources..

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