By Will Teach Yu
Special report: April 1, 2019 (El Cajon) – Promising a platform of transparency, accountability and better test scores, a trio of candidates has announced plans to challenge incumbents on the Cajon Valley Union school District board. See their statements below:
Mark Robak, a parent who has testified in public meetings voicing concerns over numerous district schools failing to meet state standards, states, “I’m running to protect the best interests of our children. The district’s World of Work program and technology advances aren’t enough. When our students are flunking English and math proficiency exams, it’s time to get back to basics. Our Superintendent’s claim that the state is measuring the `wrong metrics’ is a head-in-the-sand ostrich approach that will end once our slate wins.”
Award-winning journalist Paul Kruze’s reporting has exposed flagrant district violations of the California Public Records Act, including willful destruction of audio recordings from public meetings. A letter from attorney Terry Francke at Californians Aware (CalAware) recently put the district on legal notice to comply with the law or face costly consequences. Only then did the board vote 3-2 to retain meeting recordings for a year and make copies available on CDs, but the board majority still refuses to put audios online or to live-stream meetings.
“My commitment to truth, integrity and open government have led me to realize that I can best serve our community as a member of the Cajon Valley Union school board,” says Kruze. “While I will miss my career in journalism, I will apply the same dogged determination to exposing wrongdoing by representatives of this district that I have long applied to my investigative reporting.”
Kruze’s candidacy has drawn a surprising early endorsement from former El Cajon Councilman Ben Kalasho, who voiced support for Kruze to investigate “someone other than me.”
Other endorsements for the slate including embattled board member Jill Barto, prominent area journalists, and Rainbow Dance Party participants who recently staged a counter-protest against a hate group at El Cajon Valley High School. Organizers pledged to hold precinct walks in El Cajon.
The third candidate running on the slate is Donna Frye, past president of CalAware, long-time open government advocate and former San Diego Councilwoman. Frye, in an earlier interview with Kruze, called Cajon Valley’s destruction of records and past refusal to turn over copies of public meeting recordings on request “morally repugnant.”
In a press conference today, Frye announced, “To shine some sunshine into the shadows and restore transparency to the Cajon Valley Union School District—not to mention enjoying the sunny climate in this inland area--I have moved to El Cajon and am running for this school board.”
A long-time surf shop owner, Frye said she’s also in favor of boosting reading and math skills, as well as adding surf lessons to the curriculum.
“Remember to fill in the bubble on your ballot for Donna Frye,” she added. “Hang ten!”
Happy April Fool’s Day!
Read more 2019 April Fool's Day reports: https://www.eastcountymagazine.org/april-1-2019-special-edition