Union Democrat staff

Honorable woman

To the editor:

This is in response to Michael Herman's letter (Feb. 10): Mr. Herman, you obviously feel strongly about Mr. Dutton. It is equally as obvious, you do not know Mary Kelly.

Mary Kelly is one of the most honorable and caring women I have ever met, and I have the utmost respect of her. Mary was a teacher herself, and a school board member many, many years ago. She only came back to the board because no one else in the community would step up at that time.

If you have read the editorial page over the years, you know that she has always been a cheerleader for the students at Tenaya and Tioga, never missing a chance to congratulate them on their achievements.

Regarding the ruining of the education of the students, you are giving Mr. Dutton a good deal of power and discounting the efforts of other teachers at Tioga. Regarding the passing and failing of the math students, you as a tutor should know that students with a good basic math foundation may struggle, but should not fail just because a specific teacher is no longer in the classroom.

It is sad that a teacher who appears to be able to reach the students is no longer in the classroom, for whatever reason. It has been said before, but must be repeated: The board may not discuss Mr. Dutton's case and, strange as that may seem, it is for his protection. Mr. Dutton is the one person who can do something about this, if he feels he has been wrongly accused.

In closing Mr. Herman, I must say that I hope if you feel this strongly about the importance of teachers, you consider becoming a teacher yourself. Best of luck at Oregon State.

Peggy Andrews


Shame on you

To the editor:

In response to John Kinnear's letter (Feb. 13):

What nerve you have to tell citizens of our great country to "sit on their hands for a year or so." Have you sat on your hands while you were so unhappy with the war in Iraq, or the misuse of the bail out money? If so, then shame on you.

Our great nation is built by the people for the people (if you agree with them or not). To suggest that I or anyone else should have no say is plain ignorance. Our country can't afford to waste any more of our hard earned tax money. So should this stimulus plan be "another wasted trillion," that is no little thing.

So far our New Hope of different things to come from the government seems to be just that - hope. Instead, it's business as usual.

Todd Cangiamilla


Never paid enough

To the editor:

Rebuttal to "Things Change" (Philip Gross letter, Feb. 11): Mr. Gross must think the services that so many men and women perform to keep him safe will no longer be needed. What he does not know is that many of these employees give up many privileges. They miss important family events, work holidays and work in a very hostile environment, thus suffering injuries which cause many to retire early.

He would probably be the first to sue the government when a fire engine or police officer is delayed due the cutbacks. Or maybe layoffs meant that county crews couldn't plow or sand the roads in time for a medical response team to arrive.

Maybe he should try being a correctional officer, working in the prison system that is short handed. The front page of the Feb. 11 The Union Democrat showed the gym used to house prisoners in the overcrowded Sierra Conservation Center. Would he be willing to work in this area with only one other officer and not allowed to carry a weapon for protection? Many officers get injured during these trying times.

I could go on, but I doubt that he would understand why these brave and dedicated people give of themselves in public service. They will never be paid enough to be there to save and protect life and property. I can attest to this, as I was one of these individuals. It took a huge toll on my family and on my physical abilities.

I just pray that you will never need any of these all important brave souls to respond to your aid.

D Gregory


Hit and run

To the editor:

This letter is to the person who ran off and hit the black Labrador on Lime Kiln Road on the night of Feb. 9. Do you know what you did? Better yet, what kind of a lowclass person are you?

It might have been an accident, but you had to be aware of it, and you didn't even stop to see what you did. Just to let you know, this poor dog didn't pass right away, but lived with severe injuries, while you went along your merry way.

If you wash your truck or car and happen to see a dent, I hope that you see it every day and it serves as a reminder of what you did.

Joyce Pedroni


Brilliant plan

To the editor:

This letter is in response to Philip Gross (Letter, Feb. 11) about our state's economic dilemma.

So your brilliant plan is for all the state employees, like teachers and prison guards, to quit and go get a job in the private sector. That way you would not have to hear anymore of their complaining about budget cuts. That should solve all of the problems for the state, thank you so much.

I don't know why they did not contact you sooner. No, wait, I do see some flaws with this: Who would teach the children or watch the prisoners? How about this: When children are born, we give them diplomas with their birth certificates? And if you commit a crime, you just get a time out. This should save the state billions.

Or we could use a more reasonable approach and ask why in two small counties like Calaveras and Tuolumne we have so many school superintendents. Makes you wonder how many there are in the state drawing six figure incomes while teachers are getting laid off. Or school board members getting full medical benefits. Or our lawmakers getting all those great perks while they cannot even pass a budget.

So let's look past the teachers and guards, and get to the people wasting all of the state's money.

Thomas Turner



To the editor:

In response to Patt Koral's letter (Feb. 4): I sympathize with the junior and, while not knowing all the facts, suspect that it's due to Summerville High's misconception of the California Education Code. EC48900 clearly states when first-time offense suspensions can be issued: incidents involving physical injury, weapons, controlled substances, robbery. It's also allowed where a student poses a danger to persons/property, or threatens to disrupt the instructional process. Section 48900.5 also states that suspension should only be imposed when other means of correction fail to bring about proper conduct. The Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice states: "Schools can only suspend if other means of correction have failed... must try other ways to solve the problem before turning to suspension.

The exception is if you were suspended under one of the first five grounds listed above, or if your presence "causes threat." The Legal Services for Children: Suspension-Expulsion Manual 7/05 verifies this.

Given Summerville High's suspension rate, greater than 40 percent (vs. 13 percent state average), one might assume the administration is unfamiliar with the suspension criteria.

The Education Code contains many provisions designed to protect the rights of our children, yet the school does not seem to be aware of these. Unfortunately, the code is silent on the issue of "taxing" school clubs 5 percent for any checks issued on behalf of student clubs, or "taxing" fundraising proceeds 5 percent to offset administrative fees.

Fortunately, there are many wonderful, caring teachers at Summerville, along with one awesome guidance counselor, which explains the only reason my daughter is still there.

Jenni Gustafson,

former Summerville High Site Council member


(Principal Dave Urquhart assures that the education code is scrupulously followed at Summerville High and said the school's higher-than-average rate of suspensions is because student supervision at the small school is much more intense).