Laura Santos is promoting a deal between her two districts

By Jason Henry, Staff Writer

Less than a week after her fellow Mt. San Antonio College trustees condemned her for holding two overlapping offices, Laura Santos appeared before a Baldwin Park committee to convince them to back a Mt. SAC satellite campus on a property owned by the second board she sits on.

The proposal removes all doubt about incompatibility between her dual elected positions on Bassett Unified and Mt. SAC boards, said Doug Johnson, a fellow at Claremont McKenna College’s Rose Institute of State and Local Government.

“It makes it very concrete that there is a shared interest in the decision,” Johnson said. “She’s actually convicted herself.”

In California, an official may not hold two elected positions if there exists even a potential for a “significant clash of duties.”

“By promoting that agreement between these two districts, she has removed any question,” Johnson said.

Santos previously received legal opinions from both of her districts telling her she must resign from Bassett, but has refused to resign before June 30. The former lawyer receives monthly stipends from both organizations.

At the meeting of Baldwin Park’s 2+2+2 Committee, Santos handed out bullet-pointed documents listing the benefits of the Florence Flanner School, an under-used property Santos want to use to generate revenue for the small Bassett school district. Santos also shared building diagrams with the public committee, which includes members of the Baldwin Park City Council, Baldwin Park Unified School District and the Valley County Water District.

Mt SAC Flying Team wins top community college trophy in Ohio

The Mt. San Antonio College Flying Team won the Top Community College Trophy at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association’s national competition held May 12-17 at Ohio State University. The win marks the sixth time since 2000 that Mt. SAC has won the national award.

“It’s been a phenomenal run this year, and this is a great team that has put in a lot of hard work to achieve this,” said Mt. SAC Flying Team Advisor and Aeronautics Professor Robert Rogus.

With 76 points, Mt. SAC topped second-place Colorado Northwestern Community College with 27 points and third-place Central Texas College with 14 points to win the two-year college trophy. Mt. SAC’s Josh Spolar (West Covina) won second place in the instrumental flight event, and Evelyn Marquez (Pomona) and Spolar placed fifth in message drop event. Manutea Maurin (Diamond Bar) was Mt. SAC top scoring contestant with 32 points.

The airmeet included over 275 competitors from 27 teams that included Southern Illinois University, Ohio State, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and the U.S. Air Force Academy. Overall, Mt. SAC placed 14th overall against both university and two-year colleges. 

Over the years, the Mt. SAC Flying Team has consistently earned top honors as one of the best collegiate flying teams in the country. The team has won the Top Community College trophy at the regional competition every year since 1991. Mt. SAC has won the Top U. S.  Community College award at the national airmeet in 1984, 1985, 1995, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, and 2007.

Walnut Valley staff attends mini university

By Walnut Valley Unified

The first Walnut Valley Unified School District Mini University was held in April 18. More than 1,000 certificated and classified employees attended the conference held at Walnut High School.

“There’s a million people to thank – this has been a big team effort during the past several weeks,” said Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Matthew Witmer. “And here we are, I’m very happy to see everyone today!”

Staff members gathered in the gymnasium for the welcome and keynote address.

“I know today will be a great day,” said Superintendent Robert Taylor. “I hope you’re going to learn a lot. I hope you’re going to enjoy it.”

Taylor said the professional development day would also provide the opportunity for employees to reconnect with friends they don’t get a chance to see every day.  The morning kicked off with keynote speaker Dr. Greg Washington, Dean of the UC Irvine Henry Samueli School of Engineering.

Over 75 breakout sessions followed with a wide-variety of offerings focusing on Common Core State Standards, technology, college and career readiness, and more.  A large percentage of the presenters were WVUSD staff members.

Employees around the District gave the professional development day a resounding “thumbs up.”

“It was great to be able to spend the day reconnecting with our colleagues from other schools and learning from our peers,” said Helen Papadopoulos, Suzanne Middle School Math and Drama Teacher.

“I thought it was a great day to learn so some new skills and tools to take back to my school.  It was extremely well organized and I thought the keynote speaker was very engaging,” said Peggy Laine, Maple Hill Elementary Library Media Technician.

Diamond Bar and Walnut Highs ranked by US New & World Report

-U.S. News & World Report ranked Diamond Bar and Walnut High Schools among the best in the nation in its 2014 Best High Schools report.  Both schools earned gold medals in the report issued on April 21. Only 500 public high schools in the nation achieved the top award.

Nearly 600 schools in California are ranked Best High Schools. Diamond Bar High ranked 40th in the state and 230th in the nation.  Walnut High ranked 84th in the state and 418th in the nation.  According to the report, the publication collected data from more than 19,400 public high schools in 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Schools are awarded gold, silver or bronze medals based on the performance on state assessments and how well they prepare students for college. In the 2014 national rankings, 1,519 public high schools received silver medals and 2,688 schools received bronze medals.

A three-step process determined the Best High Schools. The first two steps ensured that the schools serve all of their students well, using performance on state proficiency tests as the benchmarks.

For those schools that made it past the first two steps, a third step assessed the degree to which schools prepare students for college-level work.

For a full report, please visit www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools.

Diamond Ranch coach resigns amid hacking accusations in Diamond Bar

Roddy Layton resigned late last week as Diamond Ranch High School varsity football head coach as accusations swirl that the Panthers coaching staff hacked into rival Diamond Bar’s Hudl account to obtain important scouting information during the week of their game on Oct. 18, 2013.

Layton said his resignation is not related to a letter obtained by this publication and sent to the CIF-Southern Section last week by Diamond Bar that alleges Diamond Ranch coaches obtained Diamond Bar’s account information on Hudl and used video archives and notes to help prepare for the game.

Diamond Ranch won the game 34-20, but the night was marred by a benches-clearing brawl that led to the suspensions of several players from both teams. Diamond Bar forfeited its following game because it could not field a team. Diamond Ranch went on to win the league with a 6-0 record.

CIF-SS informed Diamond Bar the hacking accusations are a league matter. Hacienda League principals are expected to discuss the situation in a regularly scheduled meeting this week.

In the letter, Diamond Bar documents a steep rise in clicks or hits on its Hudl page the week of the game. Hudl.com has become a popular resource for coaches who can store game video, practice video and notes for game preparation. According to the letter, a former Diamond Ranch coach came forward to Ryan Maine, Diamond Bar’s head coach at the time, about the hacking.

Read more in Aram Tolegian’s story RESIGN.

Los Altos High students perform transplants for final in Hacienda Heights

Forget Doogie Howser, these real-life teens were transplanting organs in preserved pigs as part of their final exam in anatomy and physiology at Los Altos High School.

The pressure was on as six surgical teams took turns performing kidney, heart and lung transplants. They only had 90 minutes to save their patients on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, a second surgical team was experiencing a rapid rise in their pig’s heart rate. Once again, the young surgeons had to decide which drug to administer.

“We have a special program for their tablets that allows me to introduce emergency situations during their operations,” explained teacher Sean Kane, chairman of the science department.

The tablets simulated the EKG and other medical monitors found in a real hospital. But any mistakes the young doctors made wouldn’t be fatal.

The ROP medical academy at Los Altos High began four years ago. This year, the academy offered eight sections, serving hundreds of Hacienda La Puente Unified students.

For more, read Rich Irwin’s story TRANSPLANT.

Diamond Bar freshman selected for Math Olympiad program.

Diamond Bar Freshman Benjamin Chen is among a very small group of about 53 students (from the original pool of over 210,000 American Mathematics Competition participants) invited to take part in the 2014 Mathematical Olympiad Summer Program.  This year’s program will be held on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The purpose of the program is to broaden the participants’ view of mathematics and foster their excitement toward further study.  It will better prepares students for possible future participation on our International Mathematical Olympiad team as well as for possible careers involving mathematics.

Rowland Unified superintendent resigns

Rowland Unified School District Superintendent Ruben Frutos resigned his position Tuesday night, hours after the board fired Ajay Mohindra, the interim assistant superintendent of business who was hired by Frutos.

Frutos will end a 20-month term in the top spot on June 30, according to district board members. Mohindra also will leave at that time.

His tenure as interim superintendent and then as superintendent was marked with tension that included hundreds of people regularly attending board meetings and picketing of district headquarters by teachers and classified workers demanding his resignation.

In March, the board initiated a search for a new superintendent. But in attempt to keep him on, the board amended his contract to allow him to become deputy superintendent of administrative services. However, last month, the board pulled an item that would’ve approved the down-ladder move.

Some say the resignation was a way for Frutos to bow out gracefully after new board members Lynne Ebenkamp and Angelena Pride pushed for him to leave. Both were elected in November with teacher support on a platform to consider a new superintendent and increase board transparency.

“We finally have closure on the whole issue of Ruben. Now we also have the challenge of finding the right person to lead the district,” said John Petersen, president of the Association of Rowland Educators.

Frutos, in a summarized statement released by Gina Ward, district spokesperson, said he assured the board he was not interested in applying for the superintendent position but did say he hoped to serve RUSD in another capacity. He declined to be interviewed Wednesday.

Read more in Steve Scauzillo’s story FRUTOS.