As published in The Mustang, San Dieguito Academy’s school newspaper—my response to SDFA president, Mr. Tim Staycer:

September 27, 2018

Taylor Rudman
Editor in Chief,
The Mustang

Dear Ms. Rudman,

Thanks for reaching out to me.  I read with amusement the comments about me by Mr. Tim Staycer, President of the teacher’s union (SDFA), specifically:

“Lea Wolf who is running in zone 5 prides herself as whistleblower…and regularly asks questions from the audience without regard for decorum of school board protocol…she is not a legitimate candidate, SDFA has no respect for her ignorance of governance and would consider it criminal to see her as a Trustee.”

I am, in fact, not offended but flattered by Mr. Staycer’s comments because I had not considered myself a “whistleblower” until reading his comments.  As an outspoken voice in support of student’s interests, the title is perhaps befitting.  Mr. Staycer is right to be concerned because I dare to ask the tough questions.  His organization’s “special relationship” with the school Board majority has led to deplorable decisions made at the expense of students.  Over the years, their actions have continued to undermine the safety and well-being of students in our District.

Unfortunately, many parents are largely unaware of the many issues that plague our District—the same issues that Mr. Staycer would rather I didn’t question.

Here are just a few:

  • For 7-years, former teachers’ union president, Bob Croft, did not teach in the classroom and yet was paid a full teacher’s salary from school funds to the extent of nearly $1M. Meanwhile, our students struggle for access to overwhelmed school counselors, whereby a single counselor is expected to serve 450+ students.  I find this outrageous.
  • Parents and teachers continue to voice concerns about the 2015 increase in high school class sizes from a strict limit of 32 to potentially 45 or more. This decision has overburdened teachers and compromised the quality of education provided to our students.  You need not look further than to the steep decline in school rankings in the 2018 US News and World Report:  In California, CCA dropped from #5 to #14; TPHS from #25 to #48; SDA from #52 to #110; and LCC, once #99 is no longer ranked.  In a word, Shameful.
  • Despite 14 student complaints filed against District teacher, Donn Boyd, for “unwanted touching and other behavior,” the District effectively told Boyd to learn from his experience and welcomed him back into the classroom. It wasn’t too long before Boyd resumed his predatory pattern and the District was finally forced to see him out.  For the District to brush over the initial allegations and compromise the very safety of our students is nothing short of despicable.
  • Suspension and expulsion rates are on the rise in our district. The Board, however, has paid little attention to establishing restorative justice programs that have seen significant reductions in suspensions and expulsions in California schools.  The lack of seriousness about improving the health and well-being of students is evident.
  • We have fabulous teachers in our District deserving of generous compensation. With salaries averaging over $100,000 compared with around $80,000 at other San Diego districts, they rank among the highest in the nation.

Unfortunately, our financial promise to teachers just isn’t sustainable.  The District faces a $16M deficit over the next 3 years—the result of a massive 12.5% pay raise approved by the school Board.  Administrators’ and top employees’ salaries saw even larger increases to the extent of 20-35%.  Altogether, $6.5M is spent annually on these increases.  At this rate, once reserves run out, the District could face bankruptcy.  Meanwhile, our schools’ Foundations desperately seek donations from parents for curriculum programs, science equipment, basic school materials and supplies.  The Board’s disregard for fiscal prudence is beyond irresponsible.

I will continue to question these and all those issues that jeopardize the education and well-being of our student community.  Mr. Staycer seems more concerned about following meeting protocol than about the issues that impact students.  He considers it “criminal” for his organization to see me as Trustee because, if granted this privilege, I will seek to put students’ interests first and ahead of any union agenda.

Meanwhile, outgoing Trustee, John Salazar, a frequent dissenter, strong student advocate and the only voice for reason on the Board has fully endorsed me as the only candidate having “the courage, commitment and integrity to be a student-centered Trustee.”

My campaign message to Empower Students translates into “putting students first”—and implies reducing class sizes, increasing the number of counselors and teachers, protecting the safety of students, and establishing a culture of fiscal prudence and plain common sense.

Mr. Staycer and I clearly have very different value systems.  One thing is certain—students are not his priority and not even teachers.  It’s time for a change.

With sincerity,

Lea Wolf

“ Taxpayers and students need an independent representative who will look out for their interests…
a parent of a district student…with fresh ideas.
Lea is an outspoken voice for students and their parents… one of the few that dares to speak out.
Lea has the courage, commitment, and integrity to be a student-centered trustee.”

 John Salazar, SDUHSD Board Trustee

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