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Tue Feb 24, 2015 at 07:06 AM PST

"We'll Get Your Baby Out of Jail"

by dsnodgrass

The fences surrounding the baseball field at Chaparral High School contain several banners that advertise area businesses, a practice that is not unusual throughout the country. However, the following ads  are curious when taken in context that this is the site of Operation Glass House, the now infamous 21 Jump Street type operation that ended in the entrapment of 22 children, 9 who were special education students, including our son, Jesse.

We have no issue with the staff at Chaparral High School. From all that we have learned, our belief is that nobody at the school was aware the undercover sting - Operation Glass House - while it was ongoing.

We would have to assume that any sponsorship decisions are made at a District level, where there are people who have the blood on their hands...the blood of all the children entrapped in Operation Glass House.

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TVUSD punished again for financial improprieties

A year-long investigation by the California Department of Education (CDE) into the Temecula Valley Unified School District's (TVUSD) special education department found a multitude of violations, including the following examples of improper use of funds designated for TVUSD's special education students:
- 40 school district staff members,  who were not assigned to teach Special Education students, received a portion of their salaries from special education funds during the 2013-2014 school year.

- A Temecula charter school to which TVUSD was required to provide Special Education funds received only 54.3% of the funds during the 2013-2014 school year.

In total, the CDE issued 226 corrective actions and has given TVUSD a deadline of April 15, 2015 to provide evidence that all corrective actions have been completed, including repayment of the misappropriated funds.
Timothy Ritter
This is the second time in three months that the State of California has handed down punishments to TVUSD for financial improprieties. Last Fall, Superintendent Timothy Ritter was fined by the State of California Fair Political Practices Commission as part of a large-scale investigation that found he did not disclose gifts he received from Stone & Youngberg LLC, an investment banking company who was fined for its involvement in the Bernie Madoff scandal. Stone & Youngberg were eventually hired by TVUSD to underwrite $40 million worth of Measure Y general obligation bonds.

TVUSD's misuse of Special Education funds occurred immediately after TVUSD took financial decision making responsibility out of the hands of Riverside County, and into their own, putting them in control of tens of millions of dollars.

This change had one more implication,  and it's a big one. It allowed TVUSD to become its own regulatory watchdog. Fox, meet henhouse.

Kimberly Velez
In a special meeting Friday morning, the governing board of the Temecula Valley Unified School District approved a Special Education Local Plan Area that will allow local administrators to directly oversee the programs it offers its special education students.

“Better service for our kids,” said Kimberly Velez, the district’s special education director. “I think that’s the driving force behind all of this -- really looking at our population of our kids and making the best decision based on our population with our money.”

Lori Ordway-Peck
The decision to depart Riverside County’s SELPA to start one specifically designed for Temecula’s needs comes with an annual budget that calls for $38.9 million in 2013-14 -- which includes about $25.1 million in state and federal money -- for about 3,500 special needs students in one of the county’s largest districts. That cost is about $800,000 more than what the district paid last year, said Lori Ordway-Peck, assistant superintendent of business support services.

“When a district becomes large enough, it begins to have its own unique needs that aren’t usually addressed well within the larger pool of districts that ... form a SELPA,” Lori Ordway-Peck said. “That’s really what it comes down to. … When you’re part of a pool of 22 or 23 districts, you can imagine the politics of 22 districts getting together and deciding what programs get funded and what don’t.”

San Diego Union Tribune, March 29, 2013

A history of abuse

TVUSD administrators already have a tenuous relationship with Temecula's special needs community, a dysfunctional relationship of mistrust that finally exploded on December 11, 2012, when police were allowed to come into classrooms in three high schools, handcuffing, arresting, and incarcerating 22 children, 9 who were special education students. Of course, one of those children was our son Jesse, and the incident sparked a national outrage.

The CDE findings raise numerous serious questions regarding the use of taxpayers' money. For starters, if the special education funds supplanted portions of 40 non-special ed employee salaries, where did the supplanted funds go? And if TVUSD only gave the identified charter school 54% of the required taxpayer funds, what happened to the other 46%?

The 323 page CDE report, which can be read and/or downloaded in its entirety at this link, paints a picture of out-of-control school administrators who treated their own special needs children as little more than ATMs, while routinely failing to provide them with many basic services, and in multiple instances adding student assessments to IEP documents days after parents reviewed and signed them.

Where does the responsibility fall?

Jodi McClay
TVUSD's 2013-2014 SELPA governing document defines responsible parties, and the problems found by the CDE point squarely to failures by Assistant Superintendent of Educational Support Services Jodi McClay, and Director - Special Education (SELPA) Kimberly Velez. But on a higher level view, McClay and Velez ultimately report to Superintendent Timothy Ritter, who reports to the Board of Education.

And the Board of Education is designated for ultimate responsibility to ensure compliance. In November, 2014, three of five school board members were up for reelection, and the voters replaced all three members with the three candidates we publicly endorsed. So while the violations occurred under the old board, the current board has the authority to respond as needed.

Where there's smoke there's fire, and there's no shortage of smoke here, in a way that's eerily reminiscent of the genesis of the Bell City Council scandal.

The responsibilities of the Assistant Superintendent of Educational Support Services Jodi McClay:

The Assistant Superintendent of Educational Support Services is responsible for monitoring on an annual basis the appropriate use of all funds allocated for special education programs. Final determination and action regarding the appropriate use of special education funds shall be made through the Annual Budget Plan process.

Funds allocated for special education programs shall be used for services and placement for students with disabilities, in order to provide them with a FAPE. Federal funds under Part B of IDEA may be used for the following activities:

     1. For the costs of special education and related services and supplementary aids
and services provided in a general education class or other education-related
setting to a child with a disability in accordance with the IEP for the child, even if
one or more nondisabled children benefit from these services.

     2. To develop and implement a fully integrated and coordinated services system.

The responsibilities of the Kimberly Velez, Director - Special Education (SELPA):
- Develop the annual budget and service plan
- Allocate resources, monitor the use of state, federal and local funds for special
education programs
- Develop policies, procedures and guidelines for the implementation of state and
federal statute special education requirements
- Coordinate the development and implementation of the special education
program and student outcomes, and the annual accountability procedures.
- Serve as liaison to the Community Advisory Committee
- Monitor compliance with state and federal laws
- Prepare and submit any and all State waiver requests that are needed to allow
for the provision of appropriate programs and services to students with
disabilities within the SELPA
- Prepare and submit all program and fiscal reports for the SELPA and manage
CASEMIS data system to comply with all state requirements
- Ensure the provision of services of students with disabilities in charter schools
and other alternative programs
- Assume oversight for the implementation, revisions of all Interagency
Agreements, and memorandums of Understanding operated by the District
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Meltdown in Temecula as State Investigation Finds Massive Non-Compliance in TVUSD Special Education

Temecula, CA is home to the most famous special education department in the United States. However, it's a distinction that Temecula Valley Unified School District (TVUSD) brass would likely not want, because it was earned after TVUSD allowed undercover cops onto their campuses, resulting in the entrapment of nine special education students, who were handcuffed in front of their classmates and hauled off to jail.

And now, TVUSD's reputation is about to get even worse.

We are the first to report that last week, TVUSD superintendent Timothy Ritter received the results of the California Department of Education's (CDE) year-long investigation into TVUSD's special education department. The State's investigation of TVUSD is something we had previously reported.

Some Key Takeaways from the CDE Report

- Under the current TVUSD administration, the number of TVUSD's special education students that went on to higher education, some other post-secondary education or training program, or were employed at any level was found to be 8.3%. This falls pathetically short of the state's target of 69%.

- The four year graduation rate of special education students in TVUSD was 76.4% percent, far short of the state's target of 90%.

- 20% of parents who requested interpretation services at IEP meetings were not provided with an interpreter.

- Non-compliance items that were discovered in 2009-2010 by a mandatory Riverside County review have not been corrected. It was during the 2009-2010 school year that TVUSD's current Director of Special Education, Kimberly Velez, was promoted to lead the Special Education Department.

The CDE report only reinforces the nation's dismal perception of the treatment of Special Education children in Temecula. At best, it suggests that the administration is incompetent in the area of Special Education. At worst though, they appear to be hostile to the most vulnerable of their students. This is unfortunate because there are many gifted and caring Special Education teachers and service providers within the district, including those who have expressed feelings of frustration with the TVUSD administrative leadership.

TVUSD Responds by Patting Self on Back

And how did TVUSD respond to the CDE's report? There's no evidence or mention of it anywhere on their website, but the day after the CDE report was received, TVUSD sent an email to all parents in the district asking them to complete a survey that's posted on their website. Here are some of the questions included in the survey, which is linked here:

- TVUSD has an exceptionally high graduation rate. How can we continue and improve upon students graduating from high school?

- How can TVUSD create an even more positive and supporting school climate to ensure students attend school regularly?

-The strengths of TVUSD include:

(Note: while survey respondees were encouraged to itemize TVUSD's "strengths", there was no option to indicate negatives.)

This reaction should not come as a surprise, because Superintendent Ritter has an established pattern of attempting to create an alternate reality while the school district he oversees has become known as a national laughing stock.

For example, when the CDE initiated its investigation, it required the district to notify parents and guardians of Special Education students of the investigation, and to invite their participation in the investigation. So on December 20, 2013 and Feb 12, 2014, communications were sent by TVUSD, and each communication contained the following identical explanation, emphasis added:

The California Department of Education (CDE) Special Education Division Verification Review is a process in which randomly selected school districts are asked to provide input from parents through a survey that is sent directly to CDE.

-- TVUSD communication to parents

This starkly contrasts the explanation listed in last week's CDE report:
The District was selected for VR (Verification Review) because of the number of noncompliant findings resulting from state complaint investigations and due process hearing decisions.

-- CDE investigation summary letter to TVUSD

The lone question that remains is how long can Superintendent Timothy Ritter and Special Education Director Kimberly Velez continue to keep their heads buried in the sand as their organization collapses around them?

Timothy Ritter, TVUSD Superintendent
Telephone: (951) 506-7904 (This is the phone number for his executive assistant.)

Kimberly Velez, Director - Special Education
Telephone: (951) 506-7981

Governing Board Members

Allen Pulsipher, President (long-time board member, up for re-election in 2016)

Kristi Rutz-Robbins, Clerk (long-time board member, up for re-election in 2016)

Julie Farnbach (new board member who we endorsed in 2014 election)

Kevin Hill (new board member who we endorsed in 2014 election)

Sandy Hinkson (new board member who we endorsed in 2014 election)

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The Riverside Press Enterprise recently asked us to comment for an article they were preparing, and is out now, Schools get reprieve from undercover drug busts. We provided the following written statement:

It is fantastic news that there have been no schools in the Southern California region that participated in undercover school drug stings. We find these practices to be extremely abusive and pointless as they ultimately destroy the lives of so many students, do not make them any safer, and violate their civil rights. Hopefully, these shameful acts will be banned in every school district. We expect our schools to protect our children and not teach them how to buy drugs.
For the foreseeable future, we will release public statements here on Daily Kos, and on our newly created Twitter account, @TemeculaPost.

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On the morning of December 13, 2012, the earth and the sky moved at a furious pace while my wife and I were putting on clothes we would normally reserve for funerals or weddings, all in what felt like slow motion. Earlier, when we dropped our younger children off for school, we hugged each of them a little bit longer than normal, and watched with eyes swollen from consecutive tearful and sleepless nights as they walked toward their school security gates.

Later that morning, as we sat in the car outside of the Murrieta Southwest Justice Center, I turned to Catherine and told her, "Let's go get our son back."

"You know, Mama, the kids here love it," a female officer told Catherine when she called the juvenile hall that first evening to make arrangements to drop off Jesse's meds. "They get three square meals and a bed. They love it here, and they keep coming back." The implication stung Catherine: that the kids locked inside – including her son – were already criminals, headed for a life of incarceration.

That was also the message of the district attorney's office in the courthouse two days later. According to Doug and Catherine, as all of the families somberly gathered to see their children for the first time since the arrest, Senior Deputy District Attorney Blaine Hopp strode into the center of the crowd. "This should be a wake-up call to all of you. Your children are drug dealers," he announced. "But this is an opportunity to save them," he added, inviting parents to speak with him before the proceedings began. To the Snodgrasses' surprise, many did. That didn't stop Hopp from arguing to the judge that each child posed a danger to the community and should therefore stay in custody longer – a frightening prospect to parents and kids alike.

When Jesse's turn came, he was charged with two felonies, one for each marijuana sale. Hopp argued that Jesse should remain locked up for an additional month, until his next court date – even though the probation department, having reviewed his history, had recommended his release. From their seats, the Snodgrasses listened aghast as Hopp lambasted their son as a menace to society, and got their first glimpse of Jesse in his prison­issued orange jumpsuit. He didn't return their gaze. Jesse had regressed after spending three days and two nights in the juvenile prison system. And while incarcerated, he'd struggled to process Daniel's betrayal. "I thought we were really good friends," he kept mumbling to his fellow inmates, who had to explain the situation to him. When Jesse had finally been escorted into court, his expression was blank. Although desperate to see his parents, his eyes skipped right over them without recognition, a behavior they hadn't seen since his childhood. When the judge announced his immediate release, Jesse showed no sign that he had heard or understood.

Rolling Stone: The Entrapment of Jesse Snodgrass

This is the scene that has been played out every December for several years now in Riverside County, California. Each year the Riverside Sheriff's Department makes a huge public spectacle of the latest "drug ring" they broke up in yet another school district, usually involving about two dozen kids. And like Jesse, a high number of those kids arrested are kids who are classified as disabled, and unlike Jesse, the majority of the kids are minorities.

And in Jesse's case, they made sure they were able to get a made-for-tv picture of him being frog marched to jail.

And writing that last sentence makes my eyes sting with tears from a combination of sadness and outrage.

With many of these children, the District Attorney's office has successfully argued to judges that the kids are a menace to society, and must be locked up for extended periods of time. These children spent the holidays behind bars.

Now here's the good news. And it's very good news.

The Riverside Sheriff's Department's annual high school undercover drug sting program has finally been stopped in its tracks. They found no school district that was willing to participate.

Last year, San Diego's similar undercover sting operation went away, and the Los Angeles Unified School District banned these operations before Jesse's arrest, so enormous progress is being made.

The Riverside and San Diego Jump Street programs were halted because what happened in Temecula became a national story, and it happened through Daily Kos. We asked for an army, and the army showed up in orange.

And they showed up in the form of the Drug Policy Alliance, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, the American Civil Liberties Union, and too many others to list here.

The day will come when undercover drug stings in schools are finally a shameful thing of the past. They will be banned in every school district, in every state, because it is child abuse. And you will be able to say that you ended this child abuse.

But in the meantime, on behalf of our family, the two dozen children who won't be entrapped and locked up, and their families who won't be thrown into a season of hell, thank you, and happy holidays.

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As we recently reported, the voters of Temecula replaced all three incumbent school board members with the candidates we endorsed.

On November 18, two weeks after election night, the school board held its final meeting with the three lame duck members. A piece of business they unanimously approved was a (roughly) one million dollar contract extension for Superintendent Timothy Ritter, even though nearly two years remained on the current contract, along with contract extensions for his two assistant superintendents, Jodi McClay and Lori Ordway-Peck, (who has been accused of misrepresenting budget projections by the Temecula Valley Educators Association). The combined compensation packages that were approved total nearly two and a half million dollars, paid by the same citizens who voted the board members out of office.

(Pictured left to right)  Bob Brown,
Vince O'Neal, Kristi Rutz-Robbins,
Allen Pulsipher, Richard Shafer, (center) Tim Ritter (yup, crown was Photoshopped)
This appears to be a curious overreach. The voting public demanded that each board member whose terms were expiring stop working with the children in Temecula's public schools, including two board members who first came to their positions two decades ago. Yet they, along with board members Kristi Rutz-Robbins and Allen Pulsipher (who will have their chance to hear from the voters in 2016) ignored the clear message that the voters expected major change, starting at the top. Instead, they decided to spend millions of our tax dollars to reward poor performance and bad behavior, flipping off the voters.

Ritter's Reign

July 2012

Ritter authorized Operation Glass House, which placed undercover police officers on three TVUSD high school campuses.

November 2012

Voters approved Measure Y, giving permission for TVUSD to spend up to $165 million for various projects.

December 2013

Police raided three TVUSD campuses, as part of Operation Glass House, arresting 22 students, including our son, Jesse, who has autism. Nine of the entrapped students were special education students, and the majority were minorities, from a population that is nearly two-thirds caucasian.

January 2013

Ritter received gifts from Stone & Youngberg LLC, an investment banking company who was fined for its involvement in the Bernie Madoff scandal. Ritter failed to disclose these gifts, as required by law.

Stone & Youngberg LLC was hired by TVUSD to handle the sale of $40 million in Measure Y general obligation bonds. Stone & Youngberg LLC received a 1.1 percent fee as underwriter.

January 2013

A criminal judge threw out the criminal charges against Jesse, but TVUSD decided to move forward with his expulsion. We filed for a due process hearing to stop the expulsion.

March 8, 2013

Judge Marian S. Tulley issued a scathing decision against TVUSD, ordering Jesse's immediate return to school.

March 13, 2013

48 hours before Jesse's return to school, Ritter attended a 7:00 a.m. emergency school board session behind closed doors, in which they voted to file an appeal of Judge Tulley's ruling, which would end up costing thousands of taxpayer dollars. The remedy sought in the appeal was to expel Jesse. However, the appeal process is such that it would not have even been heard by a judge until well after Jesse was set to graduate.

August 2013

Members of the Temecula City Council received a strongly worded letter from an attorney representing TVUSD. At issue was a regularly scheduled event by a special education parent support group which would give free advice to parents. The organizers, who were independent of the city council, wanted parents to be able to speak freely without TVUSD administrators listening in to their conversations.
The letter said Superintendent Tim Ritter had asked City Manager Aaron Adams if district officials could participate in the event and was told they could not. Sutherland urged city officials to reverse their decision "€œsuch that further legal action will be unnecessary."

The city did not respond to the letter and the May 29 event went on as planned. Adams said that any member of the public, including district officials, were welcome to attend.

Julia Rogoff, the director and founder of Lilly'€™s House, said district officials did attend the May workshop, but it was awkward because there was nothing for them to do. Their presence made some of the parents uncomfortable, she said.

"€œThey felt like they were being watched,"€ she said.

August 2013

Ritter has consistently refused to publicly answer questions from parents over the undercover operation, dismissing them as "the autism group, and the IEP group." reinforcing his local reputation among many who see him as antagonistic towards the special education community. In August of 2013, we organized a public forum, which was demanded in a petition that obtained 7,670 signatures. We sent courteous invitations to Ritter, every member of the school board, plus other TVUSD administrators. We offered them an equal block of time to discuss any topic of their choice. We did not hear any response until the day before the hearing though, in a personal email from Ritter, a portion of which is reprinted below.

Poster from "Accountability in our Schools: A Public Hearing"

Dear Mr. Snodgrass

The District is dedicated to the success of all of its students and is interested in participating in forums that promote quality educational programs and services within the District, as well as a mutual understanding between District staff/administration, parents and students about them.  The forum you have created and advertised does not appear to be designed for that purpose, or likely to promote better educational programs and mutual understandings between stakeholders. The information provided to the District, including your email below, suggests the forum is designed to criticize the District and chastise administration with inaccurate information, and create further division and disputes.  Also, the issues to be addressed are already being addressed in another, more appropriate forum for disputes like this. For all these reasons, the District is declining your invitation to participate in this forum.

We find a few things odd about his response.
- His decision was based, at least in part, on his belief that - if he were to attend - he might receive criticism.
- The superintendent appears to be deciding that nobody from the district will attend, including the school board members, to whom he reports.
- We are still standing by for the "more appropriate forum" that he referenced.

Photo from "Accountability in our Schools: A Public Hearing". The empty seats are for the TVUSD officials, who decided not to attend.

October 2013

We filed a lawsuit, on Jesse's behalf, against TVUSD.

February 2014

Rolling Stone magazine published an expose on Operation Glass House titled, "The Entrapment of Jesse Snodgrass".

April 2014

Los Angeles Times published an Op-Ed titled, "Drug enforcement gone wrong", which was critical of Operation Glass House.

July 2014

VICE released a documentary about Operation Glass house titled, "The War on Kids". Afterward, they posted it on YouTube, and it received 1 million views in the first three weeks.

September 2014

At a school board candidates forum, Ritter was sitting directly in front of us, our attorney and some other parents. We were discussing something privately with each other, not speaking to or about Ritter, and Ritter turned to us, and angrily attempted to shut us up.
Temecula Valley Unified School District Superintendent Timothy Ritter at the School Board Candidates Forum on Sept 18, 2014.
Tim Ritter, after angrily attempting to shut us up.

October 2014

Ritter was fined by the State of California Fair Political Practices Commission as part of a large-scale investigation that found he did not disclose gifts he received from Stone & Youngberg LLC, the underwriter of the $40 million Measure Y general obligation bonds.
The old board, they won't be missed.
Click to view Timothy Ritter's contract
Click to view Jodi McClay's contract
Click to view Lori Ordway-Peck's contract
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The Riverside County Registrar of Voters has certified the ballots for the 2014 Temecula School Board election, and the results are now official. Huge congratulations are in order for our newest board members, Julie Farnbach, Kevin S. Hill and Sandy Hinkson. These are the three candidates we publicly endorsed and they come to the five member board as an immediate majority. History will show that this election was an important moment in a burgeoning civil rights movement. Children are often the forgotten victims of civil rights violations, and we maintain that every undercover drug sting in schools is a violation of children's civil rights.

The outcome of this election is a direct result of Operation Glass House, the abusive debacle in which undercover officers from the Riverside County Sheriffs Department entrapped twenty two of Temecula's children in a fabricated drug sting, nine who were Special Education students, including our autistic son, Jesse Snodgrass. This is precisely the result we worked for, on behalf of Jesse, and all other children who we believe were abused under the watch of TVUSD administrators.

After Operation Glass House, members of TVUSD's brass responded with behaviors toward its victims that we consider to be inappropriate and offensive. And after Operation Glass House was exposed as a sham in numerous media sources, most notably Rolling Stone (The Entrapment of Jesse Snodgrass) and VICE (The War on Kids), along with the tireless efforts of our partners, including the Drug Policy Alliance, and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, TVUSD did little more in response than to stick its head in the sand. This stands in stark contrast to the response from the powers that be at the University of Virginia following last week's Rolling Stone exposé involving abuses of students on their campus - penned by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, also the author of The Entrapment of Jesse Snodgrass.

But since the people who are supposed to be in charge of Temecula's school children refused to act, the citizens of Temecula forced action upon them from the voting booths on November 4.

In Temecula, school board incumbents have historically gotten a free ride with the voters. Two of the incumbents, Richard Shafer and Robert Brown, first became board members in 1994 and 1995, respectively, and had never been seriously challenged at the polls. The third incumbent, Vincent O'Neal, announced in August that he would not seek reelection, which was a wise move because had O'Neal run, he would have suffered the same fate as Brown and Shafer.

Here is the final vote total:

We have a few thoughts about the election:

  • The only memorable accomplishment of Robert Brown's tenure on the board is that he was one of only three people who were aware that adult undercover cops, Yesenia Hernandez and Daniel Zipperstein, were masquerading as students on Temecula's high school campuses with no accountability, and entrapping the most vulnerable children. Not only did Brown pre-bless the operation, he sung its praises in the immediate aftermath. "I thought it was great,” he said. “I was glad to see it was happening...I’m sure this sent a message to the rest of the kids." Unfortunately, part of what Brown was cheerleading included reports of inappropriate undercover officer conduct on campus.
But although (undercover cop) Daniel was in a relationship, that didn't stop him from admiring other girls, like when, during one lunch period with a view into the dance room, Daniel exhorted about a 15-year-old in spandex, "Dang, look at the ass on that one!"


Daniel informed Perry and Sebastian he didn't swallow Vicodin, he smoked it. The boys were dubious, so Daniel described how he'd rub off the pill's coating, grind it to powder, then freebase it off tinfoil. To demonstrate, Daniel popped the pill into his mouth and sucked it, then spat it out and rubbed it on his shirt, explaining that it was now ready for crushing and smoking. "I heard you can do the same thing with heroin," Daniel said, dropping a hint about his next drug target. The boys didn't pick up on the bait; they were agog, having learned a new drug-taking technique.

  • Julie Farnbach and Sandy Hinkson actively campaigned, and received some endorsements. The largest endorsement, which included heavy advertising and press, came from the Temecula Valley Educators Association (TVEA), who endorsed Hinkson and Cherlyl Eckard. As you see though, Eckard - who also had the heaviest advertising in this election - only finished 5th in this race, so the TVEA endorsement appears to have had little positive impact.


  • Kevin Hill did no real campaigning. He was the only challenger who had no campaign yard signs, and he didn't even have a website. The only endorsement he appears to have received was from us. But his message resonated strongly with us. And with Hill (a teacher with solid special ed experience), retired teacher Hinkson, and zero-tolerance policy critic Farnbach, our endorsement was based not primarily on non-incumbent status, but on the fact that we strongly believe them to be the right people for the job.


  • Shafer, O'Neal and the rest of the board members, (Allen Pulsipher and Kristi Rutz-Robbins) have blood from Operation Glass House on their hands too, as they rubber stamped the expulsions of all students entrapped in Operation Glass House. And in Jesse's case, even though a criminal judge threw out the charges against Jesse, TVUSD decided to move forward with his expulsion. We filed for a due process hearing to stop the expulsion, which resulted in Judge Marian S. Tulley issuing a scathing decision against TVUSD, and ordering Jesse's immediate return to school. At 7:00 a.m. on March 13, 2013, only three business days after Judge Tulley issued her ruling, and only 48 hours before Jesse's return to school, the school board held an emergency session behind closed doors, in which they voted to file an appeal of the ruling. There are many levels on which this appears vindictive and irrational, but here is the most glaring example: The remedy sought in the appeal was to expel Jesse. However, the appeal process is such that it would not have even been heard by a judge until well after Jesse was set to graduate. So the bottom line is that the board voted - in secret - to authorize the use of thousands of taxpayer dollars to try to expel a student that had already graduated.

The local message of the 2014 Temecula School Board election is this: TVUSD is broken, and the citizens have forced action upon the administration.

The national message of the 2014 Temecula School Board election is this: Any school administration that allows undercover drug stings on their campuses puts their students, their school district, and their own jobs at risk.

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History is filled with those who have placed themselves squarely on the wrong side of civil rights issues, and history is never kind to them. Meet one of the newest members of this exclusive club, Perris Union High School District Superintendent Jonathan Greenberg.

Greenberg's legacy is the authorization of a 2013 undercover operation in his Perris and Menifee, CA schools, approximately 20 miles from Temecula. The operation was nearly identical to the 2012 Temecula fiasco that entrapped 9 special education students, including our son, Jesse, who has autism.

In the Perris/Menifee sting, one of the entrapped students was a 15-year-old special education student, who read at third grade level. According to sources with first-hand knowledge, after being relentlessly hounded by an adult cop in disguise, the child finally caved under the pressure. He got a vicodin pill that had been prescribed to him and sold it to the cop for $3. For this, the child was charged with a felony and did time.

At the time, Greenberg was kind enough to publicly lecture parents like my wife and me with this gem:

"Some parents will excuse their children's behavior all the way to state prison."
Greenberg has not hesitated from piling on these kids since the arrest, seemingly bragging about his role in this round of institutionalized child abuse to anyone who will listen. Not sure what he was thinking, but for some reason he figured that the readers of Teen Vogue were clamoring to hear from the mind of Jonathan Greenburg. So he used the opportunity to get one more kick in the teeth of his students who spent the holidays in lockup, while he was likely celebrating with loved ones.
"We hope for them that this is the worst day of their lives."
Stay classy John.

Telephone:(951) 943-6369 x80102 or x80103

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For background, read the Rolling Stone magazine article, The Entrapment of Jesse Snodgrass.

As we're preparing for the upcoming lawsuit, (trial  likely be scheduled for June or July of 2015), I realize that it's been nearly six months since I last provided an update. Much has happened during that time, and more details will be coming. We have some great news to report (further down the page), but first, here's something we'd like to bring to bring to your attention that you may or may not have already seen.


VICE releeased a 24 minute documentary about Jesse, titled, "The War on Kids".
This is the story of Jesse Snodgrass, a kid with Asperger's syndrome who was arrested by an undercover cop posing as a student at Jesse's high school. This is the story of how the war on drugs preys on the most vulnerable.
A short while after VICE published it on their site, they posted it on YouTube (embedded below), and it went past the million views mark after about three weeks. We feel that VICE did a good job with this, and it's a great companion piece to the Rolling Stone article.

Here are some personal bullet points.

- Footage of the Jesse's interrogation is included. The interrogation video is something that has always been very difficult for us to watch, but it's important for the public to know the truth about what happened.

- Nine Inch'll understand once you watch the video.

- Other students who were arrested in the sting are interviewed here. They have our heartfelt thanks for agreeing to go public.

- We were able to reveal that 9 of the 22 students arrested in the sting were special education students.

- VICE follows the money, and shows how lucrative these stings can be for law enforcement.

- This is something we've been sitting on for some time. When we first went public about this, we did it initially here on Daily Kos (Our Autistic Son was Handcuffed and Arrested in School, We Were Not Notified), and that was immediately followed with an interview in the Press Enterprise newspaper. The day after the Press Enterprise interview appeared, we received a voicemail on our home phone from Blaine Hopp, Riverside County Senior Deputy District Attorney, who was directly involved in the sting. The voicemail is aired in the documentary.  Here's the transcript of his voicemail:

Yes, this message is for Mr and Mrs. Snodgrass. This is Senior Deputy District Attorney Blaine Hopp, Riverside County DA’s office calling. Mr and Mrs. Snodgrass, I read what it is you had to say about Operation Glasshouse to the newspaper Press Enterprise, Sarah Burge reporting, and I’m just contacting you to make sure that the information you provided her was true and accurate and correct, because I think it will affect the way the District Attorney’s Office deals with your son’s return date to court.

If there are anything that you were misquoted, I would truly appreciate a phone call back, otherwise I look forward to seeing you and your son on July 16th, 2003 in court. Thank you.

If you prefer, you can read the transcript of this documentary here.

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As reported by the Press Enterprise and the Associated Press, this story has taken another strange and unexpected twist. Our son, Jesse, filed a lawsuit against Temecula Valley Unified School District (TVUSD) about six months ago. Now, TVUSD has filed a cross complaint against Riverside County, and the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

The rationale is striking and best summarized in paragraph 7 of the Cross Complaint (which can be viewed here).

If it should be found that cross-complainants are liable under the allegations contained in the complaint (which allegations cross-complainants have denied and continue to deny), then cross-complainants are informed and believe, and upon such information and belief allege that the negligent, unlawful and tortious conduct of cross-defendants, and each of them, including any alleged unconstitutional entrapment, search, and seizure, was active, primary and affirmative, and that the conduct of cross-complainants, if any, was passive, secondary and derivative only.

(Emphasis added)

So TVUSD is claiming that if they are found liable, the county and the police should be responsible for paying all of the damages, (as well as TVUSD's attorney fees), because of the sheriff's department's "negligent, unlawful and tortious conduct" and their "unconstitutional entrapment, search, and seizure" of Jesse.

At the same time, their response to Jesse's lawsuit continues to be that he is a drug dealer.

It appears that a few of Riverside's law enforcement community have aired their opinions in the Press Enterprise comment section (which is a common occurrence when the PE reports on this story). Here's the link, feel free to make your voice heard if you wish.

For background, read the Rolling Stone magazine article, The Entrapment of Jesse Snodgrass.
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Just ahead of Tuesday's scheduled deposition of officer Daniel Zipperstein, a/k/a Daniel Briggs, a/k/a Deputy Dan, a/k/a the undercover police officer who targeted our son, Jesse, this appeared in the Sunday edition of the LA Times.

Jesse Snodgrass had recently transferred to Chaparral High School in Temecula and was feeling out of place and alone in 2012 when a boy named Dan, another newcomer, befriended him. Jesse, a 17-year-old autistic student, wasn't good at making friends and he was pleased by the overture. But there was something he didn't know about Dan: He was an undercover narcotics officer attending class at Chaparral hoping to bust student drug dealers.

Dan quickly began exerting pressure on Jesse to sneak a pill from his parent's medicine cabinet or buy him some marijuana. Jesse, whose demeanor and speech clearly signal his autism, was at first at a loss for how to meet his friend's request. But he finally sought out a homeless man near a dispensary and traded a $20 bill Dan had given him for a plastic bag containing less than a gram of marijuana leaves. A few months after the two young men met, Jesse was arrested and found himself alone and bewildered in juvenile detention.


The Riverside County Sheriff's Department regularly targets high school students, sometimes, as in this case, inspiring crime where it otherwise would not have existed. In the last four years, the department has staged four undercover sting operations in which adult officers, masquerading as high school students, repeatedly pressured students to obtain illegal substances for them. Over the last four years, nearly 100 students, a number of whom were special-needs students, have been arrested.


But we as a society still have some soul-searching to do. Should we really allow adults to dress up as kids, embed themselves in school classrooms and trick children into breaking the law?


Children should receive honest drug education from their schools, not face deception and betrayal by people they think are their peers. Inevitably, as in the case of Jesse Snodgrass, high school drug stings will ensnare some students who would never have been involved in obtaining or selling drugs without being manipulated by undercover officers. Is pushing students into illicit activities really the best use of scant law enforcement resources?

The piece was written by Theshia Naidoo and Lynne Lyman, senior staff attorney and California state director, respectively, for our an organization that we partner with, the Drug Policy Alliance.
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This week, our partners, the Drug Policy Alliance, have mailed a letter to the Superintendents of 20 Riverside County school districts, along with a copy of the recent Rolling Stone investigative piece about our son, The Entrapment of Jesse Snodgrass.

We are certain that the Riverside County Sheriff's Department's annual 21 Jump Street style dog and pony show, which accomplishes nothing more than destroying lives, will now be dead in the water.

We are asking you to download the letter - click here to do so - and share it everywhere. Share it with your school district's superintendent. Share it with your school board members. Share it with your principals. Share it with your PTA. Share it with your city officials. And when you do so, share the Rolling Stone article as well.

The day is coming where legislation will permanently end undercover drug stings in schools, but until then, this is how we can make them stop immediately. Any administrator who reads the letter will understand the risks to their students, and the potential liability to their school districts and to themselves.

Click the image below to enlarge page 1 of the letter. Click here to view the entire letter.

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