School starts in Rialto with new superintendent Cuauhtémoc Avila at the helm

Can one person really make a difference? Well, I guess it all depends on the person’s position and the scale of the change. In Rialto they made a change to the top level official in Rialto Unified School District, but what Rialto parents and community members are looking for may not happen right away if at all.

Credit RUSD twitter account

Credit RUSD twitter account

Rialto Unified has been full of scandals and challenges over the years. Some of them you can read about in the article Beau Yarbrough from The Sun Newspaper wrote about the Superintendent’s first day of school tour (a tour only some news media was informed about apparently) read his article here. What Beau’s article misses to point out is the rampant culture of abusive staff, the constant struggle between parents and local administrators, loss of thousands of dollars in local control funding to RUSD elementary sites and the issues that come with having schools that are policed by over taxed and dangerous cities like Colton and San Bernardino.

We were not able to be a part of this First Day of School tour with new Superintendent Cuauhtémoc Avila but at National Night Out we were able to speak with Scott Sparks, Principal of Eisenhower High School and some of the many staff from around the district. All  were ready to meet their students Wednesday morning. We asked Mr. Sparks if he was ready for the first day, he said with much enthusiasm that we’re ready and excited for the students. Eisenhower has been a shinning jewel for the RUSD. Mr. Sparks in his third year as Principal of Eisenhower High has been reaching out to the community to seek out the best learning experience for the students in his care. He is also lucky to have stories of concerned staff helping children outside of work hours. Like when Mark Steeter, a teacher at Eisenhower High School ended up saving a toddler’s life on his 30th wedding anniversary trip over  Memorial Day weekend.

One statement Beau got from new Superintendent Cuauhtémoc Avila was that he had changes but he wanted to move slowly. This isn’t sitting well with parents who are struggling. Many parents of special education students were looking for new Superintendent Cuauhtémoc Avila to make quick changes and help them get a proper education for their children.

It looks like we are in a wait and see pattern with new Superintendent Cuauhtémoc Avila. Only time will tell in we see positive changes and results for our students in Rialto Unified School District.


Rialto School Board Q&A with Russel Silva

Welcome to our third RUSD Board member Q&A out of six candidates. Russel Silva carry’s the very coveted endorsement of the Flores Park Neighborhood Watch. He also is a smart person that has offered some great responses. On thing that stands out to us here is the issue of opening up the rails to trails project to schools Werner Elementary and Rialto Middle School. Their is no safety plan in place by either the city or school district but the school district is moving forward anyway. Enjoy the read.

Russel Silva

Where did you grow up?  

I was born and raised in Hollister, CA. a small agricultural  community.  I moved to Ontario, CA in 1982 and then I bought a house in Rialto in April 1984, where I live today.

What High School did you graduate from?  

Graduated from San Benito Joint Union High School, Class of 1973. It was the only high school in San Benito County at the time.

Did you attend College? If so where did you attend and what was your major? 

Went to several junior colleges; West Valley in Saratoga, CA; Chaffee and San Bernardino Valley. My interests have mostly been towards engineering. No degree.

What is your current career field? How did you find yourself picking that career? 

My love is civil engineering. From the time I started working for the Engineering Department in Hollister I was hooked. Surveying, designing, drafting, inspection are just some of the duties I had. But the best fun was seeing the jobs I worked on come to life; housing tracts, shopping centers, industrial buildings, city infrastructure. As a kid growing up I never understood all the behind the scene stuff that makes a city function, or for that matter any successful organization. I guess engineering was in my blood.

How has your work life prepared you for the Rialto Unified School Board?

I have worked all my adult life so the majority of my education is a result of my ‘hands on’ experience. Having worked 24 years in the public sector and with my current job as Capital Projects Coordinator I manages bids, establish and write RFP’s and contracts for consultants and contractors, act as a project manager, and handle payment processing and change orders for the project assigned me. Every project has a budget and it I my job to make sure I stay on budget. I scrutinize all payments for accuracy and work progress, as well as all change orders to make sure that extra work does exceed the 10% public contract threshold. I rarely have contracts that exceed the 10%.

What do you see as the top three issues at Rialto Unified School District? 

Of course 1) student education and performance,  2) better fiscal control and accountability,  3) student safety, including on campus bullying.

What are your thoughts on Common Core?

The basic concept of the Common Core is great as it is trying to give every child nation wide the same opportunity to succeed and graduate with the same educational skills. The down falls; 1) I think it was thrown at us too fast. Teachers were not given ample time or training to unwrap this new program and present it to the students. 2) the textbooks and technology to make CC successful are behind. 3) because the way the system is set up to be taught, many teaches are handcuffed. What I mean is teachers all have their own style of teaching, but CC doesn’t allow for that. Sometimes teachers need to add that extra pop to grab the students attention. All in all I think it is a good system, but I wish it allowed a little more flexibility for the teachers. The District needs to provide more training as well.

With the new funding program programs like ROP are now in jeopardy of being lost. What are your thoughts on eliminating categorical funding and putting these programs in jeopardy?

Eliminating categorical funding for ROP, especially in lower income communities, jeopardizes the opportunity for some of our student to succeed. Face it, there are students out there that are not wired for college. By eliminating ROP you eliminate those students from having an opportunity to step into the working class right out of high school and become a productive citizen. Case in point, I would not be where I am today without the technical skill sets I received in high school.

The city of Rialto is moving forward with their rails to trails program. Some at city hall are pushing the school district to create additional access points at schools like Rialto Middle and Werner Elementary so students can access the school from the trail. What are your thoughts on this as it creates another access point for people that don’t belong on campus? 

Bad idea. Creating an access from an unmonitored, unsupervised community trail that is used not just by the average biker or walker or fitness trainer but criminals, pedifiles, child molesters, drug users and pushers is only asking for major trouble. At Warner Elementary that access gate would be 230 feet away from the nearest building and security camera. The District would have to station security to that gate every time it is in use to make sure the students are safe; and that costs money. If they use the security cameras by the time an insident is noticed and security is alerted, the incident is over and someone could be hurt. Cooperative agreement with agencies is common practice, but not at the cost of the life of a student.

Would you support working with people in the community to help Offer College and employment support to our young people as they enter the 21st century job market?

Absolutely! I love the idea of the Middle College for those students driven to achieve higher education. But I am also open to creating an internship program that will enable students to get hands on training in a field of their choosing with local agencies and business.

One big problem with our school board now is the pattern of abstaining from voting on issues leaving issues unresolved, what are your thoughts on this practice?

I think the bigger problem is that I don’t think the School Board is fully informed about many of the issues that they are asked to vote on. This leaves them having questions and discussions that lead to leaving issues unresolved. Administration works for the Board and part of their job is to keep the Board fully informed on all critical issues and contracts which I see not happening today. Many of the discussions the Board has in the open forum could have been answered with better communication from staff to the Board.

Please list any websites or social media links and/or contact information so the voters can contact your campaign.                                                                      Website:                                           Facebook:

Rialto School Board Q&A with Lillie Houston

Welcome to the Rialto Unified School Board Q&A interviews. We asked all of the candidates the same questions and emailed them out Mrs. Houston was the first one to respond so she will be the first one you see. Our questions are highlighted Lillie Houston’s answers are not.

Where did you grow up?

Seattle, Washington

What High School did you graduate from?

Garfield High School

Did you attend College? If so where did you attend and what was your major?

I attended Los Angeles City College, LACC, I was studying to become an architect. At my age at that time I was required to take courses such as English, Math, Reading, Gym, Archery, etc.

How has your education prepared you for the Rialto Unified School Board?

I attended a trade school where I learn to operate the keypunch and reading machines. Mount San Antonio College, MTSAC, Walnut, CA. Associate in Science Degree in Industrial Supervision. University of Redlands; Redlands, CA Bachelor of Arts Degree in Management.

What is your current career field? How did you find yourself picking that career?

My interest was to effectively manage industrial resources which include Money, People and Things.

How has your work life prepared you for the Rialto Unified School Board?

For more than 25 years, I was a small business owner, where I had to generate my own business, manage my own contracts, stay within budget, deal with negative and positive customers to keep a harmonious relationships between the customers, staff and vendors.

What do you see as the top three issues at Rialto Unified School District?

• Lack of Financial Transparency, I will request the new Superintendent to post financial information on-line, in a downloadable format, for free public access, which includes funding awarded through Measure Y Bond.

• Lack of Ability to Improve Special Education Services, test scores and graduation rates

• Inability to develop relationship with the business community to expand job and technical training programs which provide students with good job opportunities

What are your thoughts on Common Core?

Parents and Students have many questions as it relates to will Common Core be a step forward. Teachers are supporting it, though I am not a Teachers Union Candidate, I am running to Put Students First and hold all District Administrators and Teachers accountable for meeting our mission statement. I believe Test are important for evaluating the effectiveness of the curriculum being taught and how the instruction is being given and a good way for students to measure how they are learning. With the new funding program, programs like ROP are now in jeopardy of being lost.

What are your thoughts on eliminating categorical funding and putting these programs in jeopardy?

California’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) the new form of spending government dollars within School District already eliminated most categorical programs and places decision making for spending at the local Board level. ROP in my opinion is a great instrument for serving our students and shall be protected. The city of Rialto is moving forward with their rails to trails program.

Some at city hall are pushing the school district to create additional access points at schools like Rialto Middle and Werner Elementary so students can access the school from the trail. What are your thoughts on this as it creates another access point for people that don’t belong on campus?

• I believe the presentations made regarding the rails to trails program have left many unanswered questions as it relates to safety of children, how premises will be secured to protect from potential sex offenders and other criminal elements from entering campuses, I would be unable to support any project that does not have written policies and procedures in place to safeguard our students, staff and have more questions as it relates to this program I am awaiting a response.

Would you support working with people in the community to help Offer College and employment support to our young people as they enter the 21st century job market?

Yes, I owned and operated my own Small Business for 25 years and understand job creation, and developing entrepreneurs and would partner with the local business community and San Bernardino Community College District and/or interested partners of the School District, to provide our students with the technical training needed to be contributors to the economy.

One big problem with our school board now is the pattern of abstaining from voting on issues leaving issues unresolved, what are your thoughts on this practice?

Many agenda items are rushed before the School Board to vote yay or nae, while at the same time Board Members have failed to study what comes before them, until an hour before the meeting starts and doing meetings show disrespect for those speaking doing public comment by texting on there cellphones. I believe Public Comment should be moved to the start of the meeting. If and when elected, I will suggest to our Superintendents Office the Board of Education be provided with answers to priority questions pertaining to any agenda item so that we can move forward with new business, instead of dragging items unto future agendas, as long as I have all the information I need to make the best decisions that Put Students First, I will vote yes or no, an abstain vote from me will only be provided if there is a conflict of interest with an item.

Please list any websites or social media links and/or contact information so the voters can contact your campaign.

Home: (909) 874-1410


Rialto Community Coalition Meetings

Our next Rialto Community Coalition meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 2, 2014 at 6:30PM at the Fire Station located at 1700 N. Riverside Avenue.


Since this is the beginning of the school year, and the Rialto Unified School District has expressed interest in collaborating with us, we need to take this opportunity to begin planning our next community action project in Rialto. You are needed now, more than ever, to emphasize the dangers and consequences of underage drinking and drug use to students (and adults) in Rialto…  By the way, a couple of staff members from the Department of Behavioral Health will be attending our meeting to discuss effective policies, data collection, and media strategies concerning perceived norms and youth access to alcohol and other drugs. Our input and collective work will help in the development of a five-year strategic plan for “Environmental Prevention” in San Bernardino County.

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This Weeks Highlights

Rialto Unified board VP: Superintendent fate to be decided soon                                                                              

Rialto >> The top two administrators in the Rialto Unified School District being out on paid leave for the past five months have cost taxpayers the equivalent of three veteran teachers during that time. But the pair won’t be in limbo much longer, according to one board member.

Read More Here                                                                                 

Rialto Police Department Urges City Council To Ban Mobile Marijuana Operations

On Tuesday Rialto Police Lt. James Kurkoske presented the Issue with Medical Marijuana Dispensaries moving to a Mobile operations to circumvent Rialto municipal code laws Banning dispensaries within the city limits

Lt. James Kurkoske remarked on the law that created a Compassionate Use Act (CUA) where people that were suffering from the effects of treatment from serious illness. Rialto has a ordnance that does not allow medical marijuana shops to hold store fronts within the city limits. So what drug dealers have done is offer a delivery service to their clients in the city of Rialto. Lt. James Kurkoske said at the council meeting last night that this practice is dangerous because the drivers are a target of armed robbery for cash and drugs. This danger has brought drivers to have armed guards or even arm themselves. One community watch resident said “last thing we need is a shoot out in the city”.

Lt. James Kurkoske said that the SCAT team preformed undercover buys from these shops and had the drug delivered to a apartment where a undercover police officer was there to complete the purchase. Lt. James Kurkoske said that the undercover operations team did not encounter any armed curriers but did encounter armed guards at a store front that was shut down near Cactus and Valley.

The council went with staff recommendation and amend the current Ordnance to also ban mobile operations of Medical Marijuana within the city limits. The vote was unanimous but there were comments after the public comment portion was over. Councilman Joe Baca Jr asked Lt. James Kurkoske how possible legalization efforts would affect the city’s ability to enforce the Ordnance. Lt. James Kurkoske did say that it would become more difficult. Joe Baca Jr also asked how the police would be able to identify if someone was under the influence while driving. Lt. James Kurkoske said states like Colorado and Washington were already developing methods and technology to deal with this issue with more accuracy. Joe Baca Jr said its inevitable that Marijuana will be regulated and more available to our communities and he didn’t seem to concerned over this issue. Councilman Ed Palmer was disturbed that someone could order Marijuana like a pizza. He made reference to a potential decline in our communities is this continued. Councilwoman Lynn Hirtz said that having a lax attitude in reference to any drug use in our communities was dangerous and she thanked the police for their work on this item.

Final $11 million settlement reached in water contamination suit

Wrapping up a decade of litigation involving multiple companies, of a former fireworks manufacturer agreed Friday to an $11 million settlement to help cover cleanup costs at a Rialto industrial site where toxic chemicals leached into the groundwater.

Read More Here Clean Water

RIALTO: Couple shows Champion dog at Westminster

Rialto dog handlers Ivonne and Gabriel Rangel are ready to take Sky, champion wire fox terrier, into the ring Tuesday for the terrier competition at the Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show in New York.

Read More Here Terrier


Former Rialto School Board president arrested for suspicion of child porn possession

The former Rialto school board president arrested on suspicion of possessing child pornography posted bond Wednesday, according to online records.

Daniel Mays, 65, of Rialto was taken into custody the day before at his home in the 500 block of West Arbeth Street following an investigation, according to a Rialto police news release. He was booked at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga.

But on Wednesday online inmate records showed Mays had been released on bail.

The records also indicate that there are no court cases currently scheduled for Mays.


Chris Lee, spokesman for the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, said Wednesday that charges have not yet been filed.

“We haven’t received the case yet,” he said.

On Jan. 30 a Highland computer repair person contacted the Rialto Police Department after Mays left a computer to be repaired allegedly containing child pornography, according to the news release.

After a follow-up investigation, police discovered that the former Rialto Unified School District board president allegedly had several pieces of equipment, computer hard drives and computer discs that contained suspected child pornography, according to the news release.

Officials with Rialto Unified School District said the last time Mays served on the school board was in 2008.

By   Lori Fowler, The Sun

RIALTO >> A former Rialto school board president was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of possessing child pornography.

Daniel Mays, 65, of Rialto, was taken into custody at his home in the 500 block of West Arbeth Street following an investigation according to a police news release.

A Highland computer repair person contacted the Rialto police Thursday after Mays allegedly left a computer to be repaired containing child pornography, police officials said in a written statement.

After a follow-up investigation, police discovered the former Rialto Unified School District board president allegedly had several pieces of equipment, computer hard drives and computer discs that contained suspected child pornography, police added.

Mays was booked into West Valley Detention Center for suspicion of possession of child porn and is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Syeda Jafri, spokeswoman for the RUSD, said the news of Mays’ arrest is an “extremely disturbing allegation.”

The last time Mays served on the school board was in 2008, she said.

This news comes in the wake of two other arrests of present or past district employees.

In recent months, accountant Judith Oakes was arrested and charged with alleged embezzlement of $1.8 million of school lunch money.

In March 2013, police arrested former Eisenhower High School girls basketball coach Floyd Eddings Jr. as he was leaving his security officer job for the Corona-Norco Unifed School District.

Eddings, a former National Football League wide receiver for the New York Giants, was accused of having sex with two members of his team, both under 16, as well as forcible sexual penetration with foreign objects when he was working for the Rialto district between 2000 and 2004.

The Mays investigation is ongoing. The Rialto Police Department is asking anyone with information to contact Detective Carla McCullough at 909-820-2521.

By   Doug Saunders, The Sun

Coruption at Rialto Unified School District runs deeper than reported

Here at Rialto Now we have been monitoring this story at a distance. Why? Because the people running Rialto Unified School District (RUSD) are corrupt money hungry attention seekers and they will step on whoever gets in their way or disagrees with them. Getting any School official to go on the record and be honest is like drawing water from a well in HELL.

With that being said RUSD teachers are beyond fearful of what or who could replace Dr. Cebrum when and if the RUSD Board decides he and his right hand man Wallace are to leave the district. Some of the worse RUSD administrators are feared to be on the short list of potential successors.

Read this article below written by the Daily Bulletin Staff and tell me if you still trust RUSD and its band of brothers:


RIALTO >> For more than eight years, a district accountant stole nearly one in every four dollars that passed through the Rialto Unified School District’s lunch money program, according to a forensic audit obtained by The Sun.

A lack of internal controls, including a security camera that was not in operation most of the time and shoddy record keeping, allowed Judith Oakes, the former longtime accountant for the school district’s nutritional services department, to allegedly steal more than $1.8 million from the district from July 11, 2005, to Aug. 6, 2013, according to the audit.

Further complicating things was a perception by school district employees that Oakes was untouchable because she had a personal relationship with school district Superintendent Harold Cebrun, according to the audit by Rancho Cucamonga-based Stewart Investigative Services Inc.

“Ms. Oakes was involved in an open personal relationship with the superintendent of the school district from 2010 to August 2013, which created a work environment wherein she was deemed unapproachable and could not be held accountable by her immediate superiors,” according to the audit summary.

Rialto police arrested Oakes, 49, of San Bernardino, on Aug. 7 at her place of work and subsequently charged her with eight felony counts of embezzlement and eight felony counts of misappropriation of public funds. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Her next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 14 in Fontana.

The case broke when Oakes’ supervisor, Cindi Stone, saw Oakes on a surveillance camera stuffing a bundle of $2,000 in $20 bills into her bra on Aug. 5 and Aug. 6. Stone notified district risk manager Derek Harris, who then called police, according to the audit and a search warrant affidavit.

Details of the criminal investigation were revealed in the forensic audit commissioned by the school district after Oakes’ arrest, a complete copy of which was obtained by The Sun on Friday via a Public Records Act request. It painted a picture of antiquated accounting procedures and lax oversight at the school district that allowed Oakes to allegedly steal thousands of dollars from the district on a weekly basis.

Oakes ramped up her suspected illegal activity in 2007. In one work week, from April 30 to May 4, Oakes allegedly stole $16,000, and discrepancies of $10,000 or more per week in that year were not uncommon, the audit shows.

Of the more than $8 million the district collected in student lunch money between July 2005 and August 2013, only $6.2 million was actually accounted for, a difference of more than $1.8 million, the amount Oakes is suspected of stealing.

The audit also found that cash collections and deposits were not compared to actual sales figures, and outstanding checks and deposits in transit to the bank were never reconciled. In addition, Oakes, not the clerk who actually counted the cash, was the one who handed off bank deposit slips to the armored car courier who transported the cash to the bank, implying that Oakes could have written cash amounts on the deposit slips that did not match those of the clerk who actually counted the cash.

A search of Oakes’ home turned up original deposit slips that had been replaced by Oakes and more than $34,000 in cash straps for various denominations. The cash straps are used in the money counting room at the school district to strap specific dollar amounts of specific denominations. The items were found in a large purse belonging to Oakes, according to the audit.

The environment Oakes worked in made it rather easy for her to commit her alleged crimes, according to the audit.

“The private office which was built for Ms. Oakes further assisted her embezzlement scheme by providing a private sanctuary in which she could safely take money from her top and put it in her purse and to also steal other monies without being seen by the office staff,” according to the audit.

As a 24-year district employee, Oakes became the trusted sole accountant of the nutritional services department’s funds.

Prior to the 2010-11 school year, lunch money collected from parents at the nutrition services department was sent to schools across the district to handle. But in the 2010-11 school year, a computerized point of sale system was installed in the nutritional services department that allowed the payments to be inputted electronically into student lunch accounts. Oakes is suspected of taking the money intended for those accounts, which was left in her mailbox in white envelopes by office clerks. Auditors suspect Oakes could have been taking up to $100 a week.

“The clerks who counted the money in the money room state it was not until after Ms. Oakes was arrested that anyone ever brought these white envelopes of money from parents into the money room to be counted,” according to the audit.

Oakes was also suspected of stealing cash payments made to the district by a pallet recycling business for broken, discarded pallets. The warehouse manager for the nutrition services department would turn the receipts for those payments in to Oakes, but the cash was never accounted for in deposit slips. Receipts from the pallet recycling business totaling $858.75 for 2012 and $737 for 2013 were found in Oakes’ desk, according to the audit.

Stewart Investigations made the following recommendations to the district:

• Either contract with a bank to provide cash counting services or have the clerks be responsible for cash counts and not have the accountant, or anyone who has access to the accounting system, participate in the cash counts.

• The nutrition services department should have two bank accounts — a receiving account with an appropriate interest amount, and a clearing account that is to be cleared down to zero at least every month. The rest of the cash would be moved to the cash in a county account.

• Any and all cash collections be receipted into the eTrition system so the accountant is assured all cash collections are in the system and reliable sales figures can be posted.

“The district has reviewed the audit recommendations and has implemented changes to improve our handling of procedures as it applies to checks and balances,” said district spokeswoman Syeda Jafri.

Cebrun’s attorney, Willie W. Williams, said Friday the information included in the audit is nothing Cebrun has not already disclosed to auditors and to the public in an October interview with The Sun.

“That’s absolutely consistent with what Dr. Cebrun has said to the press, Stewart Investigations and anyone else involved, and I think that underscores there was nothing nefarious going on where he would be concerned,” Williams said.

Williams, however, disputed the auditors’ determination as to how long the relationship between Cebrun and Oakes had occurred.

“(Cebrun) didn’t become acquainted with Ms. Oakes until the summer of 2011,” Williams said.

Cebrun admitted during his October interview to kissing and hugging Oakes but maintained the relationship and physical contact was strictly of a platonic, not intimate, nature.

As police have already said, the auditors noted in their report that there was no evidence of Cebrun or anyone else employed by the school district being directly involved in Oakes’ suspected illegal activity.

Cebrun’s chief of staff, James Wallace, whom Cebrun said was also a friend of Oakes who frequently accompanied them on outings, told investigators he had been in contact with Oakes a number of times after her arrest and considered himself to be “her unofficial counselor,” according to the audit.

Cebrun and Wallace remain on paid administrative leave, Jafri said.

“The district’s interest with respect to any relationship the superintendent and Ms. Oakes may have had is how the relationship impacted the work environment,” Jafri said, “and that issue is a confidential employment matter that the Board of Education continues to evaluate.”