Alpine High School

SCHREIBER, BARNETT RESPOND TO ALPINE GAG ORDER REPORTS

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 22, 2018 (Alpine) — Recently, East County Magazine published an article revealing that a gag order in a legal settlement with the Grossmont Union-High School district prevents Alpine education leaders from speaking out in political discussions on the Alpine High School. The nondisclosure clause may also have had a chilling effect that prevented Alpine candidates from challenging GUHSD trustee Jim Kelly, an opponent of the Alpine High School who is running unopposed.

GAG ORDER STIFLES EDUCATION LEADERS FROM POLITICAL DISCUSSIONS OVER ALPINE HIGH SCHOOL, CANDIDATES OR BOND MEASURES

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 8, 2018 (Alpine) –The legal settlement between the Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD) and the Alpine Union High School District (AUSD) contained a non-disparagement clause that has effectively muzzled Alpine education leaders and concerned parents from criticizing the GUHSD board.

ALPINE AND GROSSMONT AGREE TO END LITIGATION OVER HIGH SCHOOL

 

By Miriam Raftery

File photo: Students testified to GUHSD board on behalf of an Alpine High School, before board reversed its decision to build the school.

March 2, 2018 (Alpine) – In a joint press release, the Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD), Alpine Union High School District (AUSD) and Alpine Taxpayers for Bound Accountability (ATBA) announced a resolution to end the prolonged legal battle over the never-built Alpine High School.

The AUSD and ATBA have agreed not to appeal to the state Supreme Court, after an appeals court ruled on behalf of Grossmont that an enrollment requirement to build the school had not been met and that therefore, Grossmont is not obligated to build the school.  In exchange, the GUHSD has agreed not to seek recovery of its court costs from the Alpine district or the Alpine taxpayers group.

DOUBLE BLOW: COURT RULING ON BOND FUNDS AND STATE DECISION AGAINST UNIFICATION KNOCK DOWN HOPES FOR ALPINE HIGH SCHOOL

 

 

By Paul Kruze; Miriam Raftery also contributed to this report

Hear court audio

Read appellate decision

January 21, 2018 (Alpine) -- Just as students returned to school after winter break last week, lawyers for the Alpine Union School District (AUSD), Alpine Taxpayers for Bond Accountability and Grossmont Union High School District returned to court in front of a three-judge tribunal headed by Associate Justice Patricia D. Benke of the 4th District California Superior Court of Appeals.  

But a week later, the court panel upheld an earlier ruling by Judge Pressman against Alpine, agreeing that the GUHSD need not keep millions of dollars set aside for an Alpine High School that now may never be built, despite previous bond measures approved by voters that included funds for the school. Then on Friday, the State Board of Education denied Alpine's unification petition that would have enabled the AUSD to build the high school. The double losses may prove to be knock-out blows for the hard-fought effort to bring a high school to Alpine.

HEARINGS ON ALPINE HIGH SCHOOL AND UNIFICATION

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

January 9, 2018 (Alpine) – Two key hearings that could determine the future of students in Alpine are coming up: a court appeal and a State Board of Education hearing  January 19 at which the Board will consider a recommendation by the Department of Education to deny a unification petition, and a January 11 appeal of a lawsuit over funds to build the long promised Alpine High School.

ALPINE SCHOOL DISTRICT, TAXPAYERS FILE APPEALS

 

By Julie Pendray

May 15, 2017 (Alpine) -- In the latest move to get Grossmont Unified High School District (GUHSD) to build a high school in Alpine, appeals have been filed in the Fourth Appellate Court in San Diego, with oral arguments expected late summer to early next year.

Alpine Union School District (AUSD) and Alpine Taxpayers for Bond Accountability (ATBA) are disputing a 2016 decision by a trial judge who found that Grossmont is not mandated to construct the Alpine school because an enrollment trigger of 23,245 students in the Grossmont district had not been reached “at the time of release of request for construction bids.”

UNIFICATION PROCESS FOR ALPINE TO SPLIT FROM GROSSMONT SCHOOL DISTRICT DRAGS ON; FUTURE OF HIGH SCHOOL HANGS IN THE BALANCE

 

By Julie Pendray 

May 15, 2017 (Alpine) -- When construction of a high school in Alpine was delayed indefinitely following passage of bond measures in 2004 and 2008, Alpine Union School District (AUSD) decided to seek unification. Reorganizing the district would enable it to operate K-12 schools and build the high school without waiting on Grossmont Unified High School District (GUSD), which is responsible for the school’s construction under Props. H and U. Alpine’s proposal was given the green light by the County Office of Education, which forwarded its recommendation to the state Board of Education (Board) in 2014.

GROSSMONT BOARD APPROVES MORE MONEY TO FIGHT LAWSUIT OVER ALPINE HIGH SCHOOL

 

East County News Service

September 14, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – The Grossmont Union High School District’s board voted 3-2 to approve more funds for legal defense in a lawsuit filed by Alpine taxpayers and parents. The lawsuit and a Grand Jury report both contended that the district misappropriated bond funds approved by voters for an Alpine High School.

ALPINE’S SCHOOL DISTRICT TO JOIN APPEAL OF CASE AGAINST GROSSMONT

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 9,2016 (Alpine) –The Alpine Union School District’s board has voted unanimously to file an appeal of a decision by Superior Court Judge Joel Pressman, who ruled against the AUSD and Alpine Taxpayers for Bond Accountability in their case against the Grossmont Union High School District. The taxpayers group has previously announced that it will also appeal the ruling.

The groups argue that Grossmont should turn over Prop H bond money that voters approved with the intent to build a high school in Alpine. Judge Pressman sided with Grossmont, finding that the bond measure allowed but did not require construction of the school.

COUNTY TAXPAYERS ASSOCIATION TAKES STAND IN ALPINE HIGH SCHOOL ISSUES

 

“Save Alpine High” GoFundMe site launched to pay for legal appeal

By Miriam Raftery

May 30, 2016 (Alpine) — The San Diego County Taxpayers Association is speaking out against the Grossmont Union-High School District for failing to honor the intent of voters who supported Proposition U.  The group’s new leader, Haney Hong, has also sharply criticized the GUHSD for spending taxpayer money on legal action while refusing to fund construction of an Alpine high school.

JUDGE RULES FOR GROSSMONT DISTRICT OVER ALPINE

 

Updated May 11: Plaintiffs issue statement saying they will appeal the ruling.

By Miriam Raftery

May 6, 2016 (Alpine) – A preliminary ruling by Superior Court Judge Joel Pressman would set aside a preliminary injunction against the Grossmont District. If the ruling stands, it will allow Grossmont to keep $42 million that had been set aside for an Alpine High School that the district never built. The money is a portion of bond measure funds approved by voters in part for the long-promised school.

The suit was filed by the Alpine Union School District and Alpine Taxpayers for Bond Accountability. The groups have 15 days to file an appeal.

ALPINE HIGH SCHOOL CASE HEADS TO TRIAL: CASE HINGES ON WHETHER OR NOT ENROLLMENT TRIGGER WAS MET

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 23, 2015 (Alpine) – Just in time for Christmas,  Judge Joel Pressman issued a decision in the Alpine high school case that gives neither side what it wanted. 

The Judge denied the Grossmont Union High School District’s motions to dismiss the case but also denied a request from Alpine Union School District and Alpine Taxpayers to issue a summary judgment in their favor.

Judge Pressman did determine that the Appeals Court found Grossmont made a promise to build a high school that is binding. However, that promise hinges on whether or not the enrollment trigger was met or not.

GUHSD BOARD VOTES THURSDAY ON MORE MONEY FOR ALPINE HIGH SCHOOL LAWSUIT: CASE HEADS TO COURT DEC. 17

 

Board to vote Nov. 19 on whether to incur $550,000 in new debt to fund continuing legal battle

By Miriam Raftery

November 16, 2015 (Alpine)— Superior Court Judge Joel Pressman  has set a December 17th hearing date for a trial filed against the Grossmont Union High School District by supporters of an Alpine High School. The suit seeks to assure that a fair share of bond money approved by voters will be used to build the long-promised school.  

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Judge Pressman urged both sides to settle and even offered to help—after an appeals court ruled that Grossmont violated an obligation to voters by failing to build the Alpine high school and upheld Pressman’s decision to order funds set aside.

But far from seeking to settle, the GUHSD this week will be considering approval of $550,000 in additional legal fees to continue the battle. The GUHSD already has authorization to spend $1.8 million and had spent $1.4 million as of June on the case, board documents reveal.

DEC. 17 HEARING DATE SET ON ALPINE SCHOOL LAWSUIT

 

East County News Service

November 9, 2016 (Alpine) – In the latest turn-around involving a suit filed against the Grossmont Union High School District over construction of an Alpine High School, Superior Court Judge Joel Pressman has set a new hearing date for December 17th at 9:30 a.m.

ALPINE’S CASE AGAINST GROSSMONT REVIVED: JUDGE PRESSMAN RESCINDS DISMISSAL OF CASE

 

East County News Service

November 4, 2015 (Alpine)—Superior Court Joel Pressman today announced he will vacate his dismissal of a case filed by the Alpine  Union School District and Alpine Taxpayers for Bond Accountability and set a status conference with counsel November 6th. 

The move comes on the heels of an appellate court ruling yesterday which found the Grossmont Union High School District violated its promise to build an Alpine High School and affirmed Pressman’s earlier order for the Grossmont district to set aside $42 million bond money sufficient to build the school, pending full adjudication of the claim’s merits at trial, as ECM reported.

Judge Pressman issued the following statement today, though his court reporter:

“SHOCKER”: JUDGE ISSUES TENTATIVE RULING TO DISMISS LAWSUIT AGAINST GROSSMONT DISTRICT OVER ALPINE HIGH SCHOOL

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 29, 2015 (Alpine) – For Alpine parents, it sounds like a Halloween horror story.  But it's an unexpected treat for the board majority at the Grossmont Union High School District.  Today, Superior Court Judge Joel Pressman (photo) issued a tentative ruling granting Grossmont 's motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Alpine parents and taxpayers. 

The suit sought to  force the district to turn over funds to build an Alpine high school, which voters twice voted to approve in Propositions H and U. The board's action drew scrutiny from the County Grand Jury, which issued a scathing report titled "Fool us once, fool us twice?"

The tentative ruling comes as a shock since Judge Pressman  previously denied an attempt by Grossmont to dismiss the case and set a trial date for early December, as ECM reported. In his earlier ruling, the judge rejected Grossmont’s arguments that it did not have a contract commitment with Alpine to build a high school and that the text of Prop U did not compel the district to build the long-promised school.

READER’S EDITORIAL: VALHALLA HIGH SCHOOL HAS WAITED 40 YEARS FOR CLASSROOM IMPROVEMENTS

Alpine lawsuit unsuccessful in attempting to block needed upgrades at Valhalla

By Mary Beth Kastan

September 2, 2015 (Rancho San Diego)--Students returning to Valhalla High School in Rancho San Diego will be joined on campus by some unusual guests: construction crews with heavy equipment.

Despite the noise and dust, we’re excited to see a long-awaited campus modernization project finally underway. Thanks to bond funding provided by East County voters through Proposition U, the 49 classrooms in our 155,000-square-foot main building will be fully renovated for the first time since the school opened more than 40 years ago.

JUDGE SETS TRIAL DATE FOR DEC. 4 ON ALPINE SUIT AGAINST GROSSMONT OVER HIGH SCHOOL

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 11, 2015 (Alpine) – Alpine residents seeking to force the Grossmont Union High School District to turn over $70 million in bond funds and land acquired for construction of an Alpine High School will finally have their day in court.  Judge Joel Pressman ruled against Grossmont on Friday, refusing to dismiss the case and requiring that the money be set aside pending outcome of the trial.

The proceeding will be an administrative trial before Judge Pressman set for December 4th with the Alpine Union School District and the Alpine Taxpayers for Bond Accountability squaring off against the GUHSD. A 3-judge appellate court panel previously denied Grossmont’s request for a stay to stop the proceedings, a move affirmed Friday by Pressman. The County Grand Jury also found that the district did not live up to its obligation to Alpine taxpayers and recommended that the district build the high school or turn over the money to the Alpine Union High School District to build the school.  The district's board majority defied the Grand Jury and did neither.

The plaintiffs contend that Grossmont misallocated millions of dollars from Propositions U and H,  spending much of the $700 million measures approved by voters for projects not listed in the bond while refusing to build the Alpine High School that was a priority project in the bond measures.

GUHSD BOARD VOTES TO APPEAL ALPINE HIGH SCHOOL RULING; LEGAL BILLS COULD COST TAXPAYERS A QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLARS

By Paul Kruze

February 19, 2015 (San Diego’s East County)--In a 3-2 vote which was preceded by rancorous accusations, sniping, sharp retorts and loud outbursts between board member Priscilla Schreiber and board chairman Robert Shield, the Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD) approved a measure to appeal an court injunction forcing it to set aside $42 million towards building a disputed high school in Alpine at its regularly scheduled February 11th meeting. Schreiber and board member Jim Stieringer voted against the resolution.

Several times during the meeting, Schreiber expressed concern that the board had voted twice to set money aside for the project and that it was acting in “bad faith." Stieringer said he opposed an appeal because the decision to set aside $42 million for the high school “is well reasoned.”

SHOULD CRIMINAL CHARGES BE FILED AGAINST THE GUHSD?

 

By Miriam Raftery, Editor

East County Magazine

February 10, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) --The scandal over Grossmont Union High School District’s misuse of bond funds has now made national news. Recently a Superior Court Judge issued an injunction requiring the district to set aside money from a portion of bonds and state funds to build the long-promised Alpine High School, after a Grand Jury previously found that the District spent money from voter-approved bond measures on unauthorized projects, while failing to build the promised Alpine High School.

Now a Forbes magazine article titled Regulators Way to Easy on Muni Bond Investors  is calling the District’s actions a “classic bait and switch scheme.” Author Marilyn Cohen, one of the nation’s top bond managers,  asks, “Why aren’t the people involved sent to jail?”

JUDGE DENIES GROSSMONT DISTRICT REQUEST TO HALT INJUNCTION

 

By Miriam Raftery

January 31, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – Superior Court Judge Joel Pressman this week denied a request by the Grossmont Union High School District, which sought a stay to halt a preliminary injunction issued to protect bond funds for construction of an Alpine high school.

JUDGE RULES IN ALPINE’S FAVOR ON HIGH SCHOOL FUNDING

 

By Miriam Raftery

January 23, 2015 (Alpine) – The Grossmont Union High School District must set aside $14 million in bond money immediately and another $28 million by January 2016 to fund building a high school in Alpine. Superior Court Judge Joel Pressman issued the ruling Thursday, granting an injunction sought by Alpine Taxpayers for Bond Accountability.

Priscilla Schreiber, the only member of the Grossmont Board who has consistently supported building the high school in Alpine, told East County Magazine, “I’m thrilled.” 

But a statement from the district claims that other schools in the district will not get needed improvements due to the court’s decision.  The district indicates it will be back in court January 28 filing for a stay in hopes of halting the injunction.

TENTATIVE VICTORY FOR ALPINE IN LAWSUIT OVER FUNDS FOR HIGH SCHOOL

 

East County News Service

January 21, 2015 (Alpine)—Superior Court Judge Joel Pressman has submitted a preliminary ruling ordering the Grossmont Union High School District to set aside bond funds for construction of a new high school in Alpine. 

The judge sent his ruling to attorneys for the district and to Alpine Taxpayers for Bond Accountability, which sought the injunction to protect taxpayer money approved for the high school.

LAWSUIT AGAINST GUHSD OVER FUNDS FOR ALPINE HIGH SCHOOL TO BE HEARD IN COURT DEC. 5

 

East County News Service

November 22, 2014 Alpine) – Alpine Union School District (AUSD) and the Alpine Taxpayers for Bond Accountability are seeking an injunction to stop the Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD) from spending money that plaintiffs contend should be set aside to build a high school in Alpine.  The case will be heard on December 5 at 1:30 p.m. in San Diego Superior Court, Dept. C-66 by Judge Joel Pressman.   View the lawsuit here.

The suit contends that the Grossmont district is “unlawfully wasting school bond revenues approved by the voters for an Alpine high school” by spending the money from Prop H or U on other unauthorized projects.  However the Alpine plaintiffs seek only to block bond fund use on any new or future construction projects – not interrupt any pending or contracted for construction projects.

ALPINE TAXPAYERS AND ALPINE SCHOOL DISTRICT SUE GROSSMONT HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT

 

Forum on unification of Alpine, Grossmont districts set for Oct. 20 in Alpine

 

East County News Service

October 17, 2014 (Alpine) – Two lawsuits have been filed against the Grossmont Union High School District this week over its failure to fund construction of an Alpine High School. The litigation was filed by Alpine Taxpayers for Bond Accountability (ATBA) along with individual Alpine taxpayer plaintiffs who allege waste and misuse of Propositions H and U bond funds under the California Code of Civil Procedure. The ATBA law suit was filed simultaneously with an action by the Alpine Union School District (AUSD). Both suits seekan injunction to prevent the further expenditure of Prop H and Prop U bond funds until a decision is rendered by the State Board of Education in the coming months on how GUHSD assets will be allocated with regard to Alpine’s proposed unification of its school district. 

Amid the controversy, a forum on the proposed unification of the GUHSD and Alpine Union School District organized by supporters of unification is scheduled for Monday, October 20th at 6:30 p.m. at Alpine Elementary School’s auditorium, 1950 Alpine Blvd. in Alpine.

GUHSD SUPERINTENDENT ISSUES STATEMENT ON UNIFICATION; ALPINE EDUCATION LEADER RESPONDS WITH REBUTTAL

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: GUHSD Superintendent Ralf Swenson

September 18, 2014 (Alpine)—The Grossmont Union High School District Board (GUHSD) has passed a resolution opposing the proposed Alpine unification initiative.  Now, Superintendent Ralf Swenson has issued a statement to media voicing disappointment that a County committee has approved the unification measure and sent it on to the State Board of Education to take action. He wants to see all voters in the district have a say on unification, not just voters in Alpine. 

In his letter, Swenson claims a unified Alpine district won’t be able to afford to build and operate a high school offering programs comparable to those in the Grossmont district but insists that the GUHSD can’t afford to build the school, either.  Moreover, he  claims that the GUHSD remains 2,400 students below the “trigger” that the district has set for enrollment and that further declines are projected, making the likelihood that the district would ever build the promised 12th high school for Alpine appear to be virtually zero.

His letter has sparked a heated response, including a rebuttal from education leader Bill Weaver debunking dubious claims made by the Superintendent. Weaver has previously co-chaired education and business commitees for both the East County and Mountain Empire Chambers of Commerce.

DID THE GUHSD PUSH OUT A MEMBER OF ITS BOND OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE TO SILENCE TOUGH QUESTIONS?

Grossmont CBOC Member Nick Marinovich Resigns After Pressure From Asking Tough Questions

By Sharon Penny

July 13, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)--The Grossmont Union High School District’s (GUHSD) Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee (CBOC) serves on behalf of  San Diego County taxpayers to  “independently review the planning and execution of the Proposition H and Proposition U bond programs to validate to the public and the Governing Board that bond funds are spent within the intent of the bond measure.” East County Magazine has raised questions over problems with the CBOC’s watchdog role in a radio interview a few months ago.

Since his appointment to CBOC in June 2013, Nick Marinovich has a history of questioning the GUHSD Board about what many view as its inadequate responses for plans for an Alpine High School (funded by Proposition U) and for not properly addressing the Grand Jury’s report criticizing the Boardm as ECM has reported.

Effective June 19, Marinovich “resigned” from the CBOC. GUHSD Board member Priscilla Schreiber has told East County Magazine that she believes Marinovich was ”indirectly forced” to resign due to his probing questions and failure of the board to respond to his follow-up efforts.

GROSSMONT SCHOOL DISTRICT IGNORES GRAND JURY, VOTES TO OPPOSE UNIFICATION FOR ALPINE FAMILIES

 

 

 

By Nadin Abbott

April 10, 2014 (El Cajon) --Think of it as a contested divorce.

With a vote of four to one, the Grossmont Unified High School District (GUHSD) board made its intent clear. The majority does not wish to allow Alpine parents and students to leave the GUHSD and join forces with the Alpine Union School District. Board Members Robert Shield, Richard Hoy, Jim Kelly and Jim Stieringer voted against unification, while Board Member Priscilla Schreiber cast the lone vote in favor. 

Unification would allow the Alpine district to become a K-12 district, adding high school students so that the AUSD could build the long-promised high school that Grossmont has failed to build.  Not even a scathing Grand Jury report has been able to prod GUHSD members into taking action. The Grand Jury admonished the board to either agree to build the high school by the end of last year, or cooperate with unification efforts. Instead, the board has done neither.

KUMEYAAY CHARTER HIGH TO RISE IN ALPINE

 

By Jack Pott

April 1, 2014 (Alpine) –Alpine parents have finally found a way to build the long-promised high school. 

“The odds of counting on the Grossmont Union High School District were just unwinnable,” said Sal Casamassimo, Chair, Alpine High School Citizens Committee.  “We twice voted for bond measures to build the school, and both times they spent all the money on other projects not even listed in the bond.”

Parents got signatures to divorce from the district and unify with the Alpine Union School District.  But after learning that this process would take several more years, Alpine parents decided to pool their resources and take a gamble—literally. (click "read more" below for full story)

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