Joyce Abrams, CVE and PERB: an Odd
School Board Primary Held on March 26

Three of the five seats on the San Diego Unified School District Board will be
up for election this year. Two of these seats are being vacated by current
board members Ann Armstrong and Shirley Weber. The third seat is held by
Ron Ottinger, current board President, who is running for re-election. Seats for
Districts B and C, held by Sue Braun and John de Beck, are not up for election
this year. San Diego has a somewhat unusual style of school board election in
which the primary election for each seat is limited to the specific district while
the final election is held on a city wide basis. Thus, citizens from throughout the
city need to be aware of the contests in all districts and can substantially affect
the content of the board.

The material below is largely derived from an article by Sharon L. Jones of the
San Diego Union-Tribune, January 3, 1995, page B4.

District A
Clairemont, La Jolla, University City

Joyce Singer Abrams - Elementary school teacher in Chula Vista. Former
Grand Jury member, favors a shift of authority to individual campuses.
P.O. Box 786
La Jolla, CA 92038

[Requested that the Board Delay Math Adoptions on 3/28]
March 1996
Primary election results
BARBARA CARPENTER                          8,960     24.50      
FRANCES O'NEILL ZIMMERMAN             7,988     21.85      
JOYCE SINGER ABRAMS                        7,529     20.59      
DEBRA PATTERSON                            6,615     18.09      
ELAINE G. SPRINGER                         5,474     14.97      
November 1996
FRANCES O'NEILL ZIMMERMAN                171,413     
BARBARA CARPENTER                         74,344     30.25      

JOHN M. (RAGIC) RAJCIC                     1,847     
Joyce Abrams, a member of the Board of Directors of Chula Vista
Educators, violated  the rights of another teacher--but went ballistic
when union leaders left her out of the inner circle.
Imagine her surprise when her loyalty to a corrupt union couldn't buy her
a seat on her pet committee!

Ironically, Joyce Abrams complained to PERB that her rights under
EERA had been violated!

Unfortunately for Joyce, there is no California law that says that Joyce
Abrams has to be on the CVESD PAR committee.
Joyce ran for San Diego Unified School District
Board in 1996
2003 PERB decision regarding Joyce Abrams
Maura Larkin's
San Diego Education
Report Blog

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Silence is Golden

Schools and Violence

Office Admin Hearings

Larkins OAH Hearing
2010 press release re Joyce Abrams
New Joyce Abrams PERB case in 2011

"In addition to all of the above circumstantial
evidence of unlawful motive, there is also
evidence of unlawful motive in the
statements made by
[Larry] Cunningham...If
Cunningham had been misquoted or
misunderstood, the District could have
called him to testify; indeed, the record was
left open for that very purpose. But the
District did nothing."

--from the Joyce Abrams' decision November 23, 2011

2011 PERB decision against Chula Vista
Elementary School District:

PERB Decision No. 2221
Charging Party,  Case No. LA-CE-5289-E
November 23, 2011
Appearances: California Teachers Association
by Brenda B. Sutton-Wills, Attorney, for Joyce
Singer Abrams; Fagen Friedman & Fuifrost by
Susan B. Winkelman, Attorney, for Chula Vista
Elementary School District.
Before Martinez, Chair; McKeag and Dowdin
Calvillo, Members

...Accordingly, the Board adopts the proposed
decision as the decision of the Board itself, as
supplemented by the following discussion of the
District’s exceptions.

For reasons explained below, however, the
Board does not adopt the AL’s proposed order
and notice...

At all relevant times here, members of the BTSA
Board were: (1) Lebron; (2) CVE President Peg
Myers (Myers); (3) Katy Croy, a Point Loma
Nazarene University representative; and (4)
Principal Tom Glover.
In another part of the record the composition of
the BTSA Advisory Board is
described as including Kathleen Fernandez, a

Abrams’ 2007-2008 Term and Reapplication for
the 2008-2009 Term

Abrams served as a BTSA Induction Program
SP for the eighth consecutive school year
during the 2007-2008 term  She entered into an
SP agreement for that term on or about
September  10, 2007, agreeing to  adhere to
the SP agreement  and the BTSA SP Guidelines.

The BTSA Advisory Board met on July 16,
2008. The Advisory Board reviewed the
reapplications and the logs kept by the SP’s
documenting how often they met with their PT’s.
The Advisory Board determined that 14 of the
SP re-applicants, including Abrams, had not met
the one-hour per week meeting requirement...

Lebron testified about the August 11, 2008,
meeting with Abrams as follows:
Q  Did you tell her that the logs were incorrect
and that you
would fix them?
A  Not that I would fix them. I told her that, yes,
they were

Sometime thereafter,
Lebron met with Cruz for approximately 45
minutes to review the logs of these re-
Lebron testified that after reviewing the logs
with Cruz, she continued to believe that the
Advisory Board’s original determination was
correct. The Cabinet, however,
reinstated all but two  of the 14 re-
applicants who initially had been told by
the Advisory
Board that they had not been renewed for
the 2008-2009 term.  
Cruz testified that Dennis
Gascon (Gascon) was the only other SP
besides Abrams
who was not reinstated by the Cabinet.

The fifth qualification listed in the BTSA SP
Guidelines, which requires the SP to be
either a
permanent or retired teacher in the
District, was omitted from the Notice.

By letter dated September 17, 2008, Cruz
informed Abrams that she was not selected
for the 2008-2009 school year. The letter
contained no explanation of the basis for the

Abrams filed level I and level II grievances on
October 3, 2008, and a second level II
grievance on October 14, 2008. By letter dated
October 16, 2008,
Cruz dismissed Abrams’
grievances on the ground that, as a retired
teacher, Abrams was no longer covered by
the CBA.

Myers had earlier decided not to file a
grievance on behalf of the 14 BTSA SPs whose
reapplications had been denied because it was
her understanding that the District was going to
follow through with her recommendation that
they all be reinstated.

On November 10, 2008, at 9:41 a.m.,
Cunningham left the following telephone
on Abrams’ answering machine:

Joyce, this is Larry again. I’ve been in LA for the
last five days,
but give me a, give me a call on my cell phone. It’
s probably the
easiest place to get a hold of me, [phone
number omitted]. I
talked to Lowell [Billings] and Tom [Cruz], and it
really comes
down to the point that they just wanted to go in
a different
I mean, they felt that, you know,
you’ve always been very negative about
what the District did and where they were
going and what direction they were going in, so
they just felt  they wanted to go in a different
direction. And so that’s what they told me about
it. So, if you want to discuss it further, give me a
call, but that’s what I got from it. Talk to you
later. Bye.

On November 12, 2008, Abrams spoke to
Cunningham by  telephone.  Admitted into
evidence at the hearing was  a note Abrams
made memorializing their  conversation:

I stated that I had given my heart and soul to
the CVESD for 39
years. That, in all of those years of employment,
not once was
there a reference to my negativity in any
evaluation that I had
received. He said he thought that it was in
reference to my
association and activism in the union, CVE.

I stated I thought there were laws against being
retaliated against
because of my union participation.

I have been singled out and discriminated

...At the hearing, Cruz testified that the Cabinet
did not renew Abrams’ SP position solely
because of her interpersonal skills. In response
to a question from the  ATJ inquiring into the
nature of the Cabinet’s concern about Abrams’
interpersonal skills, Cruz testified in pertinent

So the five executive directors and the
superintendent are actually
in those classrooms on a regular basis. And it
was from, many of
those folks had brought up  concerns about  
her positive nature  on
matters, how she, her outlook and support of
the District. And
there  were concerns that  she may not be
conveying the kinds of
messages to our new teachers that we would
prefer,  because  her interpersonal skills were
abrasive and short whenever  others had
interaction with her

During the 2007-2008 school year, however, no
individuals at the Cabinet level had
observed Abrams in either her teaching or
SP role
Prior to the 2007-2008 school year, two of
these individuals had observed Abrams in
her classroom on occasion. As there is no
dispute that Abrams was renewed for the 2007-
school year, it must be concluded that whatever
classroom observations there might have been
prior to the 2007-2008 school year, none were
found to be disqualifying.

When asked to elaborate on Abrams’
interpersonal skills during cross-examination,
Cruz further testified:

As far as, and I’m using global generalizations,
she didn’t seem
to be happy or content with the School
District, critical about the District about
management this, or principal this, or
teachers this.

It just seemed that Joyce was not a happy
positive person in her interactions with the

In contrast to Cruz’s testimony that Abrams "was
not a happy positive person in her interactions
with adults," the
direct documentary and
testimonial evidence on this point
supports the opposite conclusion
as a
factual matter. Performance evaluations date-
stamped in
Human Resources on January  5,  2006,
September 21, 2004, June 24, 2002,
September  5,
2000, May 20, 1998, and June 1, 1994 were
received into evidence...

Emily Claypool (Claypool) was Abrams’ PT in
2000. Claypool testified that Abrams
was friendly, supportive, knowledgeable and
available. She considered Abrams to be her
mentor, and a strong advocate for teachers.

The ALJ concluded that the preponderance of
the evidence showed that the District had an
unlawful motive in denying Abrams' SP
reapplication for the 2008-2009 school year
the meaning of EERA section  3543.5,
subdivision (a).   In its exceptions, the District
contends  that Abrams did not meet her prima
facie burden; that the AL’s proposed decision is
supported by the evidentiary record; and that
the ALJ’s proposed remedy is not appropriate.

Here, as the ALJ found,
there is ample
circumstantial evidence of unlawful motive.

Regarding the timing of the adverse action, the
District is correct that Abrams had been
involved in her union for a long time without
incident. There may not have been a single
triggering event.  As the ALJ observed, Abrams
continued to serve as a member of CVE’s board
of directors until just prior to the denial of her
reapplication. It is worth noting that the first time
the District denied a reapplication of Abrams
was immediately upon Abrams’ retirement and
loss of active union membership and
membership on the CVE board of directors.

In addition to all of the above circumstantial
evidence of unlawful motive, there is also
direct evidence of unlawful motive in the
statements made by Cunningham...

On top of all this, Abrams testified without
contradiction that District board member
Cunningham, explaining the District’s denial of
her reapplication, told her that the District found
her "very negative," and he thought "it was in
reference to [her] association and [her] activism
with the Union." If Cunningham had been
misquoted or misunderstood, the District could
have called him to testify; indeed, the record
was left open for that very purpose. But the
District did nothing.

Even as hearsay, Cunningham’s statements to
Abrams were admissible to corroborate
the other evidence of retaliation. (PERB Reg.

Furthermore, as admissions of a party, the
statements are also admissible as independent
evidence of retaliation. (Evidence Code, §
In short, the preponderance of evidence shows
that the District denied Abrams’
reapplication to be a support provider because
of her union activity, and for no other reason.

The District is therefore found to have retaliated
against Abrams in violation of EERA section 3
543.5(a), as alleged in the PERB complaint
Group again seeks to nix ‘Christmas’ from La Jolla
parade name

A marching band contingent traverses down Girard Avenue during last
year's La Jolla Christmas Parade. File

56th annual La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival
When: 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8
Where: Girard Avenue

By Pat Sherman
La Jolla Patch
Oct. 22, 2013

For the second time in a decade, a small but vociferous group is working
to remove the word “Christmas” from the title of the annual La Jolla
Christmas Parade and (subsequently added) Holiday Festival.

Debbie Allen, whose family once operated a Christmas business on
Prospect Street, believes the name of the La Jolla Christmas Parade
should be changed to be more sensitive to non-Christians.

The group voiced its concern during the public comment period of San
Diego’s Human Relations Commission (HRC) in September, and was
placed on the HRC’s Oct. 16 meeting agenda.

Led by La Jolla Town Council trustee Howard Singer, the group told the
commission it feels the word “Christmas” references the Dec. 25
celebration observing the birth of Jesus Christ and could cause Jews,
Muslims and people of other faiths (as well as atheists and agnostics), to
feel excluded from the nonprofit community event (formerly under the
auspices of the La Jolla Town Council).

The 15-member HRC was formed to “conduct and promote activities that
foster mutual respect and understanding; protect basic human and civil
rights; and create an atmosphere that promotes amicable relations
among all members of the community.”

Chief Deputy City Attorney Karen Li began the meeting by offering an
overview of the city’s special event permit regulations.

Li said the special events ordinance is largely geared toward assuring
public safety and health and that “everyone can participate.”

Singer noted that the names of most local events that formerly included
the word “Christmas” have since been changed, including “holiday”
parades in Encinitas, Pacific Beach and Ocean Beach (formerly dubbed
“Christmas” parades) and December Nights in Balboa Park (formerly
known as “Christmas on the Prado”).

HRC Executive Director Danell Scarborough referenced this “evolution in
the community.”

Though there are clear laws and guidelines about what is permissible in
schools and the workplace when it comes to religious observances, she
said when it comes to community events it is still a “gray area.”

“The balancing act between respecting First Amendment rights and …
freedom of religion … and evolving toward respect, inclusion and
inclusive activities for our community (is) still unfolding — and we’re
participating in the unfolding of that,” Scarborough said. “Sometimes they
seem mutually exclusive. That is our great joy, and our great challenge.”

The event, including required city permits and police presence, is paid for
by private citizens, noted Debbie Allen, a name-change proponent and
president of the San Diego Chapter of Americans United for the
Separation of Church and State.

La Jolla Town Council trustee Howard Singer makes his case to the
Human Relations Commission for why he believes the name of the La
Jolla Christmas Parade should be changed.

“There is nothing illegal about the La Jolla Christmas Parade. This is no
longer a government sponsored event; expenses are covered by donors,
rather than taxpayer dollars,” she said.

“However, I do think it naïve to think that taxpayers do not contribute to
the infrastructure within the community that allows the event to take

Allen underscored how she feels use of “Christmas” in the event name —
as well as this year’s theme, “Christmas in the Surf and Sand” — can
cause people to feel excluded.

“It can be problematic for some non-Christians to expose children to the
magic of Christmas when they wish for them to focus on their own
heritage, and celebrate their own religious holidays,” Allen said, noting
that for years her parents operated a Christmas gift shop on Prospect
Street called, “All About Christmas.”

“At some point in my life, I came to realize that Christmas is not universally
celebrated by everyone,” she said.

“Some in La Jolla will feel that an important tradition is being lost by
changing the parade’s name, but I think it is more important to celebrate
what we have gained since the parade’s inception — a true appreciation
and respect for our multicultural community.”

San Diego Human Relations Commission members discuss the La Jolla
Christmas Parade name dispute.

Name change proponent and attorney Bill Addams said that in reviewing
the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in the Mt. Soledad cross case,
Jewish War Veterans v. City of San Diego, it appears that there may be
some precedent for a name change. According to organizers, the parade
draws more than 20,000 people.

“I’m not convinced necessarily that it (the name) is legal, because of the
factors that the court looked at,” Addams said. “When something gets to
a certain size it goes beyond just being a small, private parade. It takes
on an official status, and I think this is clearly the community’s holiday

Singer again raised the specter of La Jolla’s anti-Semitic past, which
included housing prohibitions from 1926 through the early 1960s meant
to keep Jews and other minority groups out of La Jolla. Today, Allen
noted, it is estimated that Jewish residents comprise more than 30
percent of La Jolla’s population.

Though HRC Chair Mark Dillon said he invited parade chair and La Jolla
Town Council trustee Ann Kerr Bache to attend the HRC’s Oct. 16
meeting, she did not attend.

Responding via e-mail to a La Jolla Light request for comment, Kerr
Bache said she heard about the HRC meeting “informally.”

“The chairman of the HRC did call my home and spoke to my husband,
Tom,” Kerr Bache stated. “Tom told him to contact me if he wished to
invite me to attend. I am not aware of any further attempts to contact me. I
don’t know anything about the HRC.  If I knew more about them and their
meeting (time? place? purpose?) I might have attended — or maybe I

When asked to elaborate on the La Jolla Parade Foundation’s reason for
retaining “Christmas” in the event’s name, Kerr Bache responded, “I have
nothing new to say about it, but I often reiterate the well-known facts to
those who aren’t already familiar with them.”

Singer said he feels parade organizers view themselves as “above
discussing this with other people.

San Diego Human Relations Commission members listen as Howard
Singer makes his case for the name change.

“Therein lies the problem and that’s why we’re here,” he told the HRC.
“We know you’re not miracle workers. We just want to get the ball rolling
with them.”

HRC member and La Jolla resident Joyce Abrams said local leaders and
police and fire safety personnel offer the city’s tacit endorsement of the
parade, and thus its name, by participating in it each year.

“I know from living in the community,” Abrams said, “that what is being
said here is very accurate. It does seem ridiculous that at least a
conversation isn’t held. If the two parties can’t get together on their own, I
feel the city could have some part in getting them together.”

While Chair Dillon noted that the group could issue an opinion on a name
change, he said, “At this point, we feel the problem is the communication

Noting that the HRC cannot demand that the name be changed, the
commission unanimously voted to draft letters to the offices of San Diego
City Council members and Interim Mayor Todd Gloria recommending that
the city help facilitate mediation that would bring parade organizers and
name-change proponents together to work toward a resolution.

“If we recommend mediation it makes it more onerous on the party that
doesn’t participate,” HRC member emeritus Bruce Abrams said, adding, “I’
d be willing to (offer) my office to Sherri Lighter and to Mayor Todd Gloria
for the parties to speak with these individuals.”

HRC member Lorena Slomanson said that if parade organizers decline
mediation, “it might be prudent to consider revisiting the issue.”
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