Editor: The following is from an Explorer Elementary Charter School parent who is remaining anonymous because their children are part of the High Tech system and there is a concern about retaliation from the administration and the Board. This is the third post about this controversy, as we published our original and the follow-up reprint of Jill Green’s statement she made last month.
By Explorer Parent
The OB Rag had it right when publishing the article on September 1st, “Is former principal of Point Loma charter school being hounded by U-T Watchdog?” Indeed, Jill Green was being targeted by the Union Tribune Watchdog with erroneous and misleading information.
Compounding the damage to Jill Green, the U-T editorial board jumped on the bandwagon after their original article and published on September 1st its editorial entitled “Charter Scandal Downright Exasperating.” In it, they state:
“Public tolerance for dubious uses of taxpayer funds is at an all-time low. How could Green possibly think it was OK to spend $19,000-plus on business meals, gift, wine and treats for her dog from April 2009 through March 2011?”
Since the OB Rag published its September 1st article, the U-T has done the following:
- On September 6th, in the Watchdog Response Section, page A-2, they published an article making clarifications, entitled, “Funding source for principal’s expenses revisited,” in which they state in the second paragraph: “The headline and story may have left the impression that the expenses were entirely covered by taxpayers. Because of the way charter school funding works, that’s not true.”
- This second U-T article was in response to the U-T editor being inundated with emails and letters to the editor from outraged Explorer parents and Jill Green’s pro bono attorney attesting that the premise of the article was false and misleading. Jill Green’s attorney challenged the U-T to support their statements that “taxpayers were on the hook” and that public funds had been used to pay for gifts, wine and dog treats. The U-T could not support these claims either by source or expert. Ms. Green’s attorney also challenged the reporter’s accounting in the U-T created spreadsheet, as the accounting proved to be inaccurate and grossly misleading.
- On September 9th, the U-T “amended” the original story title online, so that it now reads, “Principal spent school money on wine, dog treats” (changing the word “tax” to “school”). Also, the U-T posted a clarification online to the right of the top of the article.
- After Jill Green’s attorney’s formal request, on September 10th, the U-T took down from their internet site the Channel 10 video report of the original story in which the U-T reporter, Ashley McGlone, appeared.
- On September 11th, in the “Correction” space on page A-2, the U-T published the same correction language they posted online.
- Jill Green’s attorney has been notified that as of September 12th, all online reader comments under the original U-T story will be deleted from the website.
So indeed, the OB Rag got it right. The funds were not public funds. The funds used to pay for these “questionable” expenditures were not taxpayer money. Further, the U-T’s accounting was inaccurate and grossly misleading, as was pointed out by multiple readers in their emails and postings and by Jill Green’s attorney.
One of the more troubling aspects of this story is that the Explorer Board of Trustees, knowing what the premise of the article would be (that Jill Green misused taxpayer funds), refused to set the record straight when contacted by the reporter before the article ran. If the Board had simply told the U-T reporter that public/taxpayer funds were not used, there would have been no story.
The Board also didn’t tell the reporter that the vast majority of the “questionable” expenditures were undeniably school related and not in question. So the question remains: Why did the Board want to embarrass Jill Green and harm Jill Green’s reputation? If there were any validity to the assertion that Jill Green misspent school funds, the appropriate remedy, as outlined in the High Tech High Cardholder User Agreement, would have been for Jill Green to simply reimburse the school.
Finally, it should be noted that prior to the U-T article, parents who questioned the Board’s actions and Jill’s departure had been told by people close to the Board that if they continued to challenge the Board, the story would be “leaked” to the press and Jill’s reputation would be ruined.