Tag Archives: Baldwin Park

BPUSD’s Rubio Accused of Violating Board Policies, Recall Suggested

By D. Radillo

Photo courtesy: Blancarubio.com Blanca Rubio, a Baldwin Park Unified School District board member, was recently accused of violating board policies at a BPUSD board meeting.

Photo courtesy: Blancarubio.com
Blanca Rubio, a Baldwin Park Unified School District board member, was recently accused of violating board policies at a BPUSD board meeting.

Baldwin Park – During a February school board meeting, Baldwin Park Unified School District (BPUSD) board member, Blanca Rubio, was accused by a 33-year employee of violating school board policies and a laundry list of wrongdoings, which include: her husband was given a job and promotion; for allegedly covering up his arrest for being under the influence and possession of a narcotic; replacing the district’s law firm with another who had given her campaign donations, and for soliciting donations to current school board vendors for her Assembly seat campaign, according to a youtube video of the board meeting: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCrzY5YwMeQ&feature=youtu.be&app=desktop)

Mike Orona, who served as an employee for the BPUSD for over 33 years, accused Rubio of violating school board policies and questioned her “personal ethics” when she allegedly solicited campaign funds for her Assembly election, which is this Tuesday, June 7, 2016. The solicitation was to a current BPSUD school vendor. “I was contacted by some contractors who perform services for the Baldwin Park School District. Blanca Rubio personally solicited them for money. Board policy strictly prohibits them from this type of activity. So again, you talk about unethical practices and conflict of interest,” Orona added at the meeting.

“I am personally questioning her ethics and personal judgment regarding her husband John Lopez,” Orona stated at the board meeting. He was referring to the rehiring of Lopez while Rubio was a school board member.

Orona goes on to accuse Rubio of violating educational code 1090. “This action may be punishable as a crime,” Orona added. “GOVERNMENT CODE SECTION 1090 1090.(a) Members of the Legislature, state, county, district, judicial district, and city officers or employees shall not be financially interested in any contract made by them in their official capacity, or by anybody or board of which they are members. Nor shall state, county, district, judicial district, and city officers or employees be purchasers at any sale or vendors at any purchase made by them in their official capacity.” Orona was referring to this code as a conflict of interest and violation of the Government Ed Code as Ms. Rubio was a board member during her husband’s rehire and soon after promotion.

Orona goes on to point out John Lopez’ arrest for a controlled substance.

“This individual, John Lopez (Rubio’s husband), was recently arrested at Margaret Heath Elementary for being under the influence and in possession of dangerous and narcotic drugs,” Orona said. He then accuses Rubio of “trying to cover it up.”

“(During this arrest) where was Blanca during the danger and violent threats to the school,” Orona said. “She chose the option of remaining silent and prevent the public of knowing this was her husband,” he said.

Orona concluded with the request of starting a recall against Rubio and requested that the political leaders in attendance begin an investigation. In addition, Orona said he would send copies to the District Attorney’s office and request an investigation.

The youtube video of the February School Board meeting can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCrzY5YwMeQ&feature=youtu.be&app=desktop

Blanca Rubio and Mike Orona both did not respond to emailed questions prior to press time.

September & October 2015 SGV News

2015-09AND10-SGVNewsSGV News covers Diamond Bar, Walnut, La Puente, Rowland Heights and surrounding areas of the San Gabriel Valley; portions of the western Inland Empire; and northern Orange County. Click this link to access the complete issue in PDF format: Sept. & Oct. 2015 SGV Newspaper

CHP Officer Shot During Traffic Stop

Fontana man charged with attempted murder of a Peace Officer

Photo Courtesy:  CHP

Photo Courtesy: CHP

Staff Reports

Baldwin Park – In the early morning hours of Sept. 11, CHP Baldwin Park area Officers conducted an enforcement stop on a Cadillac Escalade for an impaired driving investigation. During the stop, the driver attempted to murder the officer by firing a semi-automatic, 12-gauge shotgun, resulting in injuries to the officer. The officers returned fire, wounding the suspect.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the driver of the Cadillac fled the scene and was later apprehended after a lengthy pursuit. The chase came to an end when the Cadillac became disabled in a dirt field in Fontana. The suspect was taken into custody with the assistance of a West Covina Police Department K9 Police Dog and allied agencies.
The driver was identified as John Alfred Garcia, 30, of Fontana. He was booked into a Los Angeles County Jail and was arraigned under charges of Attempted Murder on a Peace Officer that was willful, deliberate, and premeditated; Assault on a Peace Officer with a semiautomatic weapon; and felony evading of a Peace Officer.
The CHP states that this shooting highlights the dangers of being a law enforcement officer.

Since January, 88 law enforcement officers nationwide have been killed in the line of duty. Of those, 28 have died as a result of fatal gunshot wounds. California has had three officers killed, all of which have been as a result of gunfire.
The average age of the officers who were feloniously killed is 41 years. The victim officers had served in law enforcement for an average of 12 years, 8 months at the time of the fatal incidents.
“Thankfully, our officer survived because of the courageous effort of not only his Partner Officer, but the multiple allied agencies who assisted, responded and pursued Garcia until he was apprehended,” said Southern Division Chief, Calvin Aubrey.
The officer was released from the hospital on Tues., Sept. 15, and is expected to make a full recovery.

Baldwin Park Unified Students Praised For AP Success

Photo Courtesy:  BP Unified

Photo Courtesy: BP Unified
Sierra Vista High senior, Anel Castellanos, earned Advanced Placement Scholar with Distinction honors for passing six AP exams with scores of 4 and 5 during her sophomore and junior year. She is taking additional AP classes this year.

By William Diepenbrock

Baldwin Park – 104 students at Baldwin Park Unified’s two comprehensive high schools are being honored as AP Scholars by the College Board for their stellar success on Advanced Placement (AP) exams.

The exams are the culmination of the College Board’s AP program, that is designed to give high school students the opportunity to take college-level courses. Students who succeed on AP exams show they are ready for the rigors of college, may be allowed to skip some college courses and are more likely to graduate college on time.

AP exams are graded from 1 to 5 points. To be an AP Scholar, a student must earn a minimum score of 3 – the lowest passing grade – on three or more exams. To be an AP Scholar with Honor, a student must average 3.25 with a minimum score of 3 on four or more exams. To be an AP Scholar with Distinction, a student must average 3.5, with a minimum score of 3 on five or more exams.

Of the 104 students honored at Sierra Vista and Baldwin Park high schools, 68 were recognized as AP Scholars, 17 as AP Scholars with Honor, and 19 as AP Scholars with Distinction.

“We are proud of all our students who take on the challenge of these AP classes. These are extraordinarily demanding programs, but they deliver equally rewarding benefits,” said Baldwin Park Unified Superintendent, Dr. Paul Sevillano.

In 2014-15, 1,579 Baldwin Park Unified students took AP exams, including some who took more than ten. Subjects included art history, studio art, English language, European history, U.S. government, U.S. history, calculus, biology, chemistry, physics and Spanish.

Sierra Vista senior, Anel Castellanos, achieved one of the District’s highest average scores, earning three 4s and three 5s on six AP exams. That success earned her the status of AP Scholar with Distinction, the College Board’s second-highest honor.

Castellanos said the AP program helped inspire her passion for science and medicine.

“It helped me pick the career I wanted,” said Castellanos, who is also a forward on the Don’s varsity girls basketball team. “I want to become a biomedical engineer, perhaps specializing in helping create better artificial limbs.”

Castellanos began kindergarten at De Anza Elementary as an English learner. In 2008, after passing exams, she was designated as fluent English proficient. She is a graduate of Sierra Vista Junior High, where she participated in an accelerated math program, passing geometry as an 8th Grader.

Castellanos took her first AP exams as a sophomore, scoring a 5 on AP Calculus AB, and a 4 in AP World History. As a junior, she scored 5s in AP Calculus BC, AP Spanish Language and Culture, and 4s in AP U.S. History and AP English Language.

Sierra Vista High calculus teacher, Daniel G. Toohey, said he could tell in the first two weeks of Castellanos’ sophomore year that she was something special.

“She excels because she shows great attention to detail, a commitment to do her work exactly as I demonstrate it, and a level of maturity that I rarely see from someone her age,” Toohey said.

Castellanos’ perfect grades in AP and regular classes elevated her 4.0 GPA to a weighted GPA of 4.5, matching her 4.5 average on AP exams. This year, she will take AP Biology and AP Computer Science. If she earns at least 4s in those subjects, she will qualify as a National AP Scholar – the College Board’s highest honor.



Baldwin Park Unified Expands STEM

District partners with Cal Poly Pomona College of Engineering to strengthen career pathways


Staff Reports

Baldwin Park – Baldwin Park Unified is expanding its partnership with Project Lead The Way (PLTW) – the nation’s leading provider of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum – to deepen student opportunities for career and college pathways.

Baldwin Park High School – which launched Project Lead The Way’s freshman-year Introduction to Engineering Design class in 2014-15 – will add Principles of Engineering for sophomores this fall. The school plans to add a grade level each year.

Holland Middle School, meanwhile, is launching PLTW Gateway, which teaches students the principles of problem solving as they design playgrounds and furniture with specialized software.

Santa Fe School, a Grade 3 to 8 school, will provide Gateway for 8th Graders with an introduction to robotics for 5th Graders, and launch a PLTW club.

“These programs will strengthen our students’ knowledge, especially in engineering, as we begin to incorporate the Next Generation Science Standards, which emphasize more hands-on learning and more real-world application of science,” Superintendent Dr. Paul J. Sevillano said.

Baldwin Park has partnered with Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Engineering as part of the effort. Cal Poly is training and certifying teachers.  Students who complete the engineering pathway will move to the front of the registration line for Cal Poly’s engineering program.

District leaders say the new curriculum complements efforts by Baldwin Park High’s STEAM Academy, Holland Middle School’s exemplary science program and Santa Fe School’s focus on STEM, especially technology.

The STEAM Academy, which includes arts as well as STEM topics, is one of three career academies at Baldwin Park High School. The program provides interdisciplinary instruction around its STEAM theme. Signature projects include an egg drop, bridge-building and vehicle-building contests. Topics weave through math, history, English and social studies.

“Project Lead The Way adds a vital engineering component to our program,” Principal Anthony Ippolito said. “Together, these elements are really helping us to ensure students have the knowledge and skills to pursue college and career pathways.”

Baldwin Park’s efforts to strengthen college and career pathways helped earn the school a California Gold Ribbon – the state’s highest award – in 2015.

Ippolito said the programs offered at Holland and Santa Fe will work in conjunction with Baldwin Park’s engineering program and could even help prepare students for the high school’s Medical Academy, which has a sports medicine focus.

Holland Middle School, which earned a state Gold Ribbon this spring for its effective science instruction, will offer the Gateway program’s foundational class in engineering modeling and design as an 18-week program in fall and spring, allowing up to 50 students to take part. In 2016-17, Holland will add a foundational program in automation and robotics; specialized courses may follow the next year.

“We’re building a pipeline of opportunities for our students that will continue in high school and eventually lead to college,” Principal Michael Rust said. “We’re dedicated to giving these students every opportunity under the sun to succeed.”

At Santa Fe School – a smaller campus with about 400 students – programs will be offered to more than 30 8th Grade students as an elective and incorporated into science classes taken by all 5th Graders, Principal Margie Clark said. In addition, the school is looking to launch a PLTW club to help spark student interest.

“The goal is to get students excited about these opportunities,” Clark said. “I think they’ll be amazed at all the things they can create, especially with the robotics elements.”

Baldwin Park Father Sentenced For Son’s Murder


Photo Courtesy:  LASD  David Paz Vasquez

Photo Courtesy: LASD
David Paz Vasquez

Staff Reports

Baldwin Park – A 34-year old man has been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison after being convicted of murdering his 20-month old son.

According to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, jurors deliberated on Tues., July 21 for about an hour before finding David Paz Vasquez guilty of one count each of second-degree murder and assault on a child causing death. He was immediately sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Bruce Marrs.

Deputy District Attorney Deborah Scott, who prosecuted the case, said Vasquez was watching his son, Joshua, on June 12, 2013 at the family’s Baldwin Park home. After the toddler’s mother left for work, she received a call from a hospital saying the child had died.

Vasquez told investigators that he placed the child on a bed and told him not to move, the prosecutor added. The toddler fell onto the floor and Vasquez became upset and struck his son on the head and abdomen and then took him to the hospital. He was arrested that evening.

Injuries to the toddler included a smashed skull, broken ribs and internal bleeding in the abdomen.

During the trial, evidence was presented that when the child was five months old, he suffered a broken leg after Vasquez yanked him from the mother. After that incident, the toddler was placed in foster care for about a month, and then went to live at his grandmother’s house for six months. He was then returned to his parents.

The case was investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.


San Gabriel Valley Organizations Honored

Kaiser Permanente BPMC Awards Nearly $300,000 in Community Benefit Grants

Photo Courtesy:  KP Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Park Leadership congratulates some of the grant recipients whose programs improve access to primary and specialty health care services throughout the San Gabriel Valley.

Photo Courtesy: Kaiser Permanente 
Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Park Leadership congratulates some of the grant recipients whose programs improve access to primary and specialty health care services throughout the San Gabriel Valley.

Staff Reports

Baldwin Park – Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Park Medical Center recently hosted a Community Benefit Partner Reception to award and recognize 34 local nonprofit organizations from the San Gabriel Valley with community benefit grants totaling close to $300,000.

“Kaiser Permanente is driven by our social mission to improve the health and well-being of the communities in which we serve,” says Maggie Pierce, Executive Director, Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Park Medical Center. “Through our work with local agencies and our community benefit grant program that enables us to address some of the health and social issues facing our communities, we are able to realize this mission. In these challenging economic times, it is even more crucial that our social commitment remain strong. We are honored to work with all of our community benefit partners to help build healthy communities impacting current and future generations.”

Funding to organizations is based on the findings from a community health needs assessment conducted in 2013, which included data research as well as community consultation with local community leaders and residents. The priority areas of need identified in the assessment include programs that improve access to primary and specialty health care services, programs that reduce obesity and the onset of complications from chronic diseases, and social service programs that respond to the needs of at-risk youth, alcohol/substance abuse, violence prevention, and the provision of basic needs for the underserved.

Among the recipients is East Valley Community Health Center (EVCHC) in West Covina, that received a $15,000 grant.

“For many years, East Valley Community Health Center’s uninsured patients have received much needed medical procedures through Kaiser Permanente’s Community Surgery Days,” said Chinhnam Hathuc, DO, Chief Medical Officer, EVCHC. “We are pleased to receive a grant through Kaiser Permanente’s Community Benefit Program to provide dental services to underserved low-income adults.”

Baldwin Park Unified Invests In STEM

District adopts a local accountability plan to prepare students for college and careers


Staff Reports

Baldwin Park – Baldwin Park Unified will invest in a host of programs in 2015-16 – including an International Baccalaureate program, an alternative learning academy, STEM programs and added rigor for Advanced Placement and honors classes – to prepare students for success in college or careers as part of its 2015-18 Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP).

The three-year plan, adopted June 23, is the second such plan required since the state altered its school funding system. It identifies goals for each of the three years covered, strategies to achieve those goals and funding sources.

Some programs target all students, while others focus on the state’s three high-needs groups: economically disadvantaged students, foster children and English learners.

Baldwin Park Unified expects to spend $13 million in 2015-16 on its high-needs students, who make up 89.4 percent of the District’s enrollment.

“Our LCAP will transform how Baldwin Park Unified serves its students, adding depth and breadth to an already rich instructional program,” said Superintendent Dr. Paul Sevillano. “We will provide avenues that prepare students to compete successfully for high-demand college majors and careers.”

Programs include Project Lead The Way, a leading provider of hands-on educational curriculum in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. Baldwin Park High School will add a robotics course and Holland Middle School and Santa Fe Elementary School will provide the STEM program for the first time.

Baldwin Park Unified will also boost the rigor of Advanced Placement and honors classes with an eye at how those courses can help the district develop an International Baccalaureate program (IB). IB degrees are highly valued by colleges and universities; programs can take three to five years to establish.

The District will also launch an Independent Learning Center at Baldwin Park High, where at-risk, disengaged students or those who need alternative approaches may pursue their diplomas. The Center will provide a blend of rigorous online and brick-and-mortar classes with flexible hours. Enrollment is expected to range from 75 to 120 students in its first year.

Other efforts are designed to improve student opportunities for success at all levels and improve student climate. These include:

  • Holding a District-wide college fair.
  • Expanding visual and performing arts resources.
  • Boosting partnerships with community colleges, California State University, University of California, Regional Occupational Program and the City’s Teen Center.
  • Implementing a Cal State readiness class to prepare students in high school and middle school for the demands of college.
  • Creating online local assessments to better sculpt instruction to student needs.
  • Extending the school year at the elementary level for struggling students.
  • Enabling students to improve grades or take courses they may have missed.
  • Creating professional learning communities to foster collaboration among educators.
  • Creating a bridge program to help students transition from middle to high school.
  • Investing $2.5 million to improve educational technology.
  • Implementing Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), a discipline system that uses positive feedback to minimize conflicts, suspensions and expulsions.

Baldwin Park Playful City USA

City’s Playability Recognized

Photo Courtesy:  City of Baldwin Park

Photo Courtesy: City of Baldwin Park

Staff Reports

Baldwin Park – Baldwin Park is being honored with a 2015 Playful City USA designation for the seventh time.  The national recognition program honors cities and towns across the country for making their cities more playable. Baldwin Park is proud to be selected once again as a leader in creating more opportunities for play.

This year, the City will be developing new play opportunities at four summer lunch school sites. The school sites are located in neighborhoods that are park poor and where access to play space is limited. Children will be allowed to access the playground area for 60 minutes after enjoying their lunch through the City’s summer lunch program.

Teens will also have an opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors by participating in a new program at the Baldwin Park Teen Center where at-risk adolescents participate in various outdoor activities such as hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains.

By integrating these components into play initiatives, local Baldwin Park youth will have the opportunity to use all their senses to learn, explore, and imagine through play.

Hopscotch sidewalks, structured recess programs, mandated neighborhood play spaces, city-wide play days and mobile recreation vehicles are all ways in which these communities are appealing to residents, and attracting and retaining residents.

“Playability is crucial to the success of our future communities, and we are proud of the work these cities and leaders are doing to provide a better quality of life for all residents, and especially families,” says KaBOOM! President, James Siegal. “Play provides a competitive advantage for cities looking to attract and retain residents. With these esteemed leaders, and our friends and partners across the country, we continue to prioritize play for all kids.”

To learn more about these cities, see the full list of the 241 communities named 2015 Playful City USA honorees, or to gather more information on the Playful City USA program, visit www.playfulcityusa.org.

Baldwin Park Unified Runs E-Textbook And Chromebook Pilot

Just four U.S. school districts chosen to try out system

Image Courtesy:  Google

Image Courtesy: Google

Staff Reports

Baldwin Park – The first of two electronic textbook pilot efforts at Baldwin Park Unified has returned overwhelming praise for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt materials used on Google Chromebooks, according to District leaders.

Some 36 8th Graders at Sierra Vista Middle School, and 30 10th Graders at Sierra Vista High School, conducted a semester-long trial of electronic curriculum on the Chromebooks this past spring as part of an effort to determine engagement levels.

“This was a rare and valuable opportunity to see how our students responded to new technology interfaces with the latest electronic texts,” Baldwin Park Unified Superintendent, Dr. Paul Sevillano, said. “As expected, we received valuable insights that will help us sculpt our approach to technology even as we prepare for a second round of pilot testing.”

The first pilot was originally scheduled to run nine weeks, but middle school teacher, Gabriela Lopez, and high school teacher, Rafael Marquez, received an extension allowing them to continue the program through spring.

A second Baldwin Park Unified pilot effort will be conducted at four middle schools and two high schools during spring 2016. In the meantime, the District is launching an effort to expand wireless capacity to support use of additional computer devices by students.

Baldwin Park Unified is one of just two districts in California, and four across the U.S., authorized for the pilot by Google and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

BP Free Pet Clinic

Residents urged to tap into free clinic before funds are depleted

Image Courtesy: mspca

Image Courtesy: mspca

Staff Reports

Baldwin Park – Commuters and passersby may have recognized a pattern of puppies, kittens, dogs and cats pouncing on the perimeter of Morgan Park in recent weeks. That’s because local residents are taking advantage of an opportunity to care for their pet’s needs through a mobile clinic frequenting the City.

The clinic, housed within a large blue bus emblazoned with pet images, is the Lucy Pet Foundation’s traveling service venue. Organization officials are providing as many as 300 spay/neuter operations, as well as additional vaccines, to some of Baldwin Park’s resident pets throughout this month. And all major services are free of charge.

But grant money for the services runs out next week, so residents are urged to book an appointment for Fluffy or Fido as soon as possible.

“We’re starting the process to adopt the dog and get some things for him taken care of, so this came at a perfect time,” said Raymond Guzman of Baldwin Park. The 17-year old stood in line at Morgan Park on an early Monday morning to get his dog, Astro, neutered.

Guzman said he had recently investigated some regional programs to get his Maltese/Terrier puppy fixed at a reduced rate. Tapping in to the free neutering services now was going to save him as much as $300, he said. The aspiring veterinarian plans to follow up with the necessary vaccinations before getting Astro officially licensed soon.

Lucy Pet Foundation’s mobile clinics are still available June 22 and 23, strictly for Baldwin Park residents.  Veterinarian Karen Halligan said her group can still accommodate more than 100 surgeries for local canines and felines before grant money – given by the Coalition for Pets and ASPCA – expires this month and the mobile unit leaves town.

Manny Carrillo, Director of Recreation and Community Services, said the Lucy Pet Foundation has frequented Baldwin Park in the past. This year’s clinics featured more availability dates and a higher turnout than before.

“This is a win-win situation because it helps residents during this economic downturn,” said Carrillo. “Most people love their pets and they want to take care of them. This is a great opportunity for them to do that, not just for a quick fix, but for the rest of their lives.”

While the reasons behind getting pets spayed or neutered are often argued, Halligan added that the Lucy Pet Foundation, based out of Thousand Oaks, works to reduce the pet population via mobile clinics and supports causes that benefit animal welfare. She said pets may live 30 to 40 percent longer if they have undergone the spay/neuter procedure.

“This is what you do to help take care of your pet,” the veterinarian added. “You’re taking care of their health and adding more years to their life. Pregnancies can be expensive, and every year, about 80,000 pets are getting euthanized.”

Lucy Pet Foundation’s free spay and neutering services include the operation, a physical exam, a rabies shot, and follow-up medical supplies for dogs and cats. Additional services such as microchip implanting and supplemental vaccinations are also available for about $15 to $30, depending on the request.

To take advantage of the mobile pet clinic, residents must call (855) 499-5829 or e-mail booking@fixnow.org to schedule an appointment. Proof of Baldwin Park residency is required.