Silicon Valley’s Largest Adult Education Agency in Shambles

Silicon Valley’s largest vocational and adult education agency has lost its accreditation to train teachers.

State regulators recommended suspending the credentialing program at the Metropolitan Education District on June 25, after a probe uncovered systemic mismanagement and lack of accountability. The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) found that MetroED had failed all but one of the legal benchmarks to train teachers.

“The team found no evidence that faculty, instructional personnel and relevant stakeholders are actively involved in the organization, coordination and governance of the teacher preparation programs,” according to the report compiled by a six-member accreditation team.

Denying accreditation is a rare move, according to Joshua Speaks, a legislative analyst for the CTC, which regulates 160 teacher prep programs in California. This marks only the second time in the commission's 45-year history that it denied accreditation and closed an institution.

"This is definitely a last resort for us," Speaks said.

MetroED provides occupational training at 35 high schools in Santa Clara County and runs satellite programs in Alameda, Santa Cruz and Monterey counties. It operates as a joint power authority of six South Bay public school districts, with a governing board made up of a trustee appointed from each affiliate agency.

On July 8, MetroED Superintendent Alyssa Lynch sent out a letter to teachers-in-training, advising them to file for a refund and transfer to another credential program. The nearest comparable credentialing services are in San Joaquin, Fresno and Sonoma counties. MetroED's was one of 15 career-and-tech-focused teacher prep programs in California and churned out about 60 to 90 graduates a school year.

In the June report, the accreditation team wrote a critical appraisal of the agency's management. “During interviews with [Lynch], it was confirmed that she currently lacks detailed knowledge of the … preparation programs,” the report said.

MetroED's Director of Human Resources Ann Welsh-Treglia reportedly displayed a similar lack of knowledge.

Lynch blamed an employee's sudden departure for leaving MetroED in a lurch. Coordinator of Credential Services Joyce Veasley was laid off two months before the site visit, and replaced by an interim supervisor who also had a limited grasp of the program.

"The former program coordinator ultimately did not comply with all of the new requirements set forth by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing," Lynch told San Jose Inside. "[Veasley] was eliminated in March 2015 when it became apparent that [she] was unable to implement all of the new program standards."

Some MetroED insiders defended Veasley, saying it was unfair to pin the responsibility on one person, as her supervisors should have had some knowledge of the program under her purview. Especially considering that Lynch oversaw career and technical education programs for the Santa Clara County Office of Education before assuming her role as MetroED superintendent in 2013.

Veasley has since taken a job as director of business services for Fremont's Mission Valley Regional Occupation Program, where she came highly recommended by her peers. She has yet to respond to a call for comment.

MetroED has offered credentialing in vocational education, adult education and “special subjects” since 1996. But the adult education program expired Jan. 1, 2013, because MetroED never submitted the documentation to continue. Though MetroED failed to renew its adult ed credential program two years ago, it continued to offer coursework to aspiring teachers.

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MetroED's five-year adult ed credentialing programs expired in 2013, as documentation required to continue the training due in 2012 wasn’t submitted until September 2014. It also failed to renew its three-year adult ed credentialing service, which rendered the entire program inactive since 2013. More documentation due a year ago wasn't submitted until a week before the commission sent its accreditation team to MetroED's San Jose offices.

Leading up to the site visit, which took place over a few days in May, the reviewers noted several "unusual circumstances." Regulators contacted  MetroED "numerous times" to offer help and acquire the overdue documents. Yet Lynch and others in her cabinet ignored emails, letters and calls, according to the June report.

MetroEd1

MetroED runs the Silicon Valley Career Technical Education Center in San Jose.

The lapse in communication, as well as the "late submission and the poor quality of the documents" once they were sent, prompted the commission to take a closer look. When the accreditation team arrived in May, it decided to conduct a thorough review—interviewing 88 people and going through thousands of pages of documents—rather than a typical program sampling.

The on-site investigation revealed that teachers working toward their credentials received little to no oversight. Several trainees said they were frustrated with the lack of guidance and had no grasp of the program's expectations. Admission requirements weren't being applied consistently to each candidate. An advisory board tasked with overseeing the program hadn’t met for five years until this past January. The agency was also unable to provide commissioners with any evidence of competency for teachers in the program.

Only the Santa Cruz County Regional Occupational Program, an affiliate of MetroED, was determined to be effectively preparing teachers. The report stated that for the sake of the Santa Cruz satellite campus, the commission may consider granting probationary accreditation with strict stipulations.

"The team is concerned that by denying accreditation to MetroED, important services to prepare needed teachers would become unavailable to a large geographic region," the report said.

Based on MetroED's directive urging program participants to transfer elsewhere, however, it seems the agency would rather let the program die out, for the time being, than meet the minimum standards to revive it. The teacher prep program is scheduled to end in September, according to MetroED's website. Lynch said MetroED will have another chance to apply for accreditation in 2017.

Some of her employees say the loss of accreditation is a symptom of widespread mismanagement at MetroED.

AlyssaLynch

MetroED Superintendent Alyssa Lynch.

Lynch inherited an embattled agency when she replaced Paul Hay as superintendent in 2013. The organization had projected budget deficits of $556,000 in 2014-15, $431,000 in the current fiscal year and $330,000 in 2016-17.

Months into her tenure, Lynch received a unanimous vote of “no confidence” from teachers at MetroED’s Silicon Valley Career Technical Education Center. Collette Betters, a California Teachers Association chapter president, said in a March 12, 2014, letter announcing the vote that Lynch lacked the “experience, talents and vision” to lead the organization. She blamed Lynch for creating an “adversarial administration" and damaging the agency's reputation.

Since her hiring, Lynch has replaced all but two of her seven-member administrative cabinet. Welsh-Treglia came on as HR director in 2014, after being laid off from a San Gabriel Valley school district in the wake of a months-long investigation into workplace harassment after one of its teachers committed suicide. Director of Instruction and Accountability Jodi Edwards-Wright was hired in August last year, around the same time as Silicon Valley Adult Education Interim Principal Gloria Curd. Chief Business Officer Marie dela Cruz was hired in February this year.

Lynch has also been criticized for relying on a coach to guide her, even after two years on the job. The contract with Rhonda Farber, a retired superintendent of Campbell Union High School District, costs MetroED $5,000 a quarter and was renewed during a special board meeting last week.

Meanwhile, allegations of bullying, retaliation and unfair labor practices have dogged the district. Several cases have been filed through the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Fair Employment and Housing Agency. In an EEOC complaint logged in April, a teacher claimed retaliation by MetroED administrators for "whistle blowing governing fiscal irresponsibility."

More cases have been submitted to the state's quasi-judicial Public Employee Relations Board. Each complaint will remain confidential until a judgement is handed down, but some of those employees plan to take their grievances to civil court.

"We are not rogue teachers in any way," one teacher told San Jose Inside. "We are bullied beyond belief."

A six-year instructor, who filed a separate EEOC complaint in April and has hired an attorney to pursue federal litigation against the agency, said the hostile work environment forced him to abandon his classroom mid-semester this spring.

“Be further advised that the stress and anxiety heaped upon me by your MetroED administration has necessitated my absence (at least for the time being) from my normal teaching duties—at my doctor’s advice and direction,” he wrote to MetroED’s governing board and administrators in late April. “This separation from my class and my students adds to the pain I’m forced to endure.”

Lynch said she can't comment on pending litigation, but that board members are notified of each new case.

In May, MetroED hired an outside law firm—San Francisco-based Dannis, Wolliver, Kelley—to deal with the agency's mounting legal issues.

Jennifer Wadsworth is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

27 Comments

    • Tina: What do you expect when the state’s education budget is burdened with educating hundreds of thousands of non-English speaking illegal immigrants or the born-in-the-USA anchor kids of illegal immigrants? More than half of them drop out of school and join gangs and/or the welfare crowd, and Mamacita has two kids of her own before she is 18 and their Dad(s) is/are nowhere to be found. Even those who have jobs earn so little that they pay no taxes, but they are eligible for lotsa “free sh*t” paid for by the taxpayers, yet many still have enough money left over to send some back HOME to Mexico. Despite the fact that they left Mexico because there is no work there, and despite the fact that they find work here, most never think of the USA as their home. Path to citizenship is pure PC Democratic politician BS.

    • Ok, here comes the Workers’ Compensation Claims. So you hired and promoted a bunch of 18 month one night a week for $15,000.00 various local University MBA and BA Grads and they don’t know how to do their job cause they never went to school real time .

  1. WOW! An agency that is years late with its mandatory filings. Are Shirakawa, Jr., Baby X, and M. Carrasco on its board of directors?

  2. Hmm… what is the relationship/connection between MetroEd and the Santa Clara County Office of Education?

  3. Ms. WADSWORTH
    FYI
    MetroEd School District
    WASC “The Accrediting Commission for Schools” the commission has Granted a six (6) YEAR ACCREDITATION STATUS FOR METROED / SILICON VALLEY ADULT / CAREER TECHNICAL EDUCATION CENTER. This is due to all the teachers / staff and SUPERINTENDENT, AYYSSA LUNCH at METROED.
    A six (6) year accreditation is only awarded to the “BEST EDUCATIONAL SCHOOLS / DISTRICTS.
    I suggest you visit the MetroEd when school is in session so that you can observe to great educational experience high school students and adults receive.
    THANKING YOU
    John P. Sellarole, Ed. D.
    retired, Principal,
    SJSU Professor

    • Clearly written by someone who slept with their teacher to pass an English class or one of Alyssa’s minions.

      The article relates to credentials not WASC, retard.

      Here is the kicker: “The former program coordinator ultimately did not comply with all of the new requirements set forth by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing,” Lynch told San Jose Inside.” And that is true leadership. Blame the subordinate. Wonder who she is doing on the school board to keep her job…

        • Are we not in America? Or does freedom of speech not mean anything to you???? Don’t like it, comment back but don’t tread my right to speech. Toad. Don’t suggest anyone in America to stifle free speech asssss.

        • I’m with you Kabbagepatchgal. Folks like Cortese always want to shut-up the opposition but fortunately there isn’t a damn thing they can do because we have that wonderful document called the Constitution.

  4. MetroEd once had a very competent superintendent in Tim Hallett who retired in ~2006. His successor, Paul Hay (a nice guy), was the chief business officer – a competent CBO. However, Paul was not a credentialed teacher nor a credentialed administrator. It’s one thing to be great with a balance sheet, etc but the superintendency requires a very special skillset to drive organizational success. So, I’m not at all surprised the accreditation standards were left unattended.

  5. Dan Bobay from the Milpitas Unified School Distrct is the incompetent Chair of the MetroEd Board. Bobay has no idea what he is doing. Just look at the recent Milpitas school fiasco where under his leadership they are consistently over budget and under performing. He can’t even get an elementary school built with free land from the City of Milpitas.

    • Are people in Milipitas really that stupid to keep this bozo, Bobay, on a school board????? Can’t blame the idiots, only the idiiots that put this schmuck into office.

  6. Jennifer, thanks for this excellent article. I’m curious as to whether Lee Clark was caught up in this ‘sweep’, if it can be called that. I took a few teacher training classes from him years ago, and found him to be very competent.

  7. Ted Mr. Clark passed away about six months ago and yes he was an extremely competent person.

    • http://www.leeclark.org/Lee_Clark_Obituary.html

      Very sad to hear this. I unsuccessfully made attempts to get a preliminary adult education credential through MetroEd for about a year. I must have gone into the office at least five times, and they would always give me the runaround about their situation and and to come back later without explaining any specific details. Finally I got word of Lee Clark’s services and successfully got my preliminary credential through them. I remember Lee answering the phone (not too long before his passing) and him sounding incredibly sick, but still being very helpful and doing his best to assist me with the credentialing process.

      I’m not completely surprised about the loss of accreditation of their credentialing program. The reason I had to constantly go into the office was because they hardly ever returned my emails or voicemails, and even when I tried to reach them at their office, the person in the credentialing office would leave well before the closing time stated on the website and building. After getting my preliminary credential through Lee Clark, I tried to go through MetroEd to get a clear credential because it was the only adult education credentialing institution in the area. It was the same deal: poor communication, mismanagement, apathy. On more than one occasion, I even got emails from their office with confidential information of other credentialing candidates sent to me because someone in the credentialing office mistyped the name of the recipient in their email. They also took money from me to waive classes (I have a postgraduate degree in education and had already taken similar classes to what they offered) for their clear credential program, but I guess they weren’t even supposed to be offering classes. Finally, when I got in touch with other agencies that MetroEd recommended to contact after losing their accreditation, I found out that MetroEd had provided me with incorrect information about the requirements for a clear credential which may even prevent me from receiving a clear credential. All in all, I wasted a lot of time and money.

      However, it is comforting to know that the people who are responsible for all of this are either still employed and making over six figures (transparentcalifornia.com) or failing up into even more lucrative positions at other educational institutions.

        • Damage control Mr. Dean??? The second time in 45 years CTC yanks certification??? A superintendent that still needs a coach after three years? More tax payer money spent to pay for litigation? Millions spent on administration for a district that is not a district? You are well aware that TOTAL enrollment is less than 2500 people, not 11,000. And 20 plus million to operate?

          And the superintendent I understand sends this article out for all to read as a badge of honor? Matt. you are what is wrong with education in California. You are ripping of every single tax payer in Santa Clara County and the Grand Jury should look into this organization and fleecing of tax dollars.

          • Mr. Dean, Metropolitan Education District’s Superintendent Lynch says: she can’t comment on pending litigation, but that board members are notified of each new case. So, sir, how many “pending litigation” cases are there? and… How many “new” cases is Metro Ed District expecting? Sounds to me like what you and your fellow Board members and an inept Administration have created in the District is a litigation incubator.

            I’m curious, how long you would have tolerated such incompetence if all the squandered money was coming out of your personal pocket and not the duped taxpayers”?

            I’m happy to see that some people are fighting back and I’m pleased immensely that Ms. Wadsworth is shedding light on the Metropolitan Education District debacle

  8. MetroEd is just part of the issue; a conflict also arises from CTC’s archaic processes. It’s impossible to clear an adult teacher credential — or any credential — unless you are serving as the instructor of record. CTC will not accept substitute / guest teacher assignments towards a clear credential, even if such assignments are directly related. It’s not negotiable. Ironically, CTC decries attrition in teacher training programs when its own certifying processes are unduly restrictive.

  9. We live and work in California a beautiful state with many resources and many opportunities. However, it is also a state where anyone can file a complaint, refer it to the EEOC (equal employment opportunity commission), PERB (public employment review board), OCR (office of civil rights) … Or any number of other agencies or file a lawsuit regardless of its veracity. Of course, by operation of law the public agency receiving the complaint cannot reveal and or discuss it publicly as it may violate employment law relating to personnel matters. Thus, that agency is prevented or disabled from defending itself with the truth and facts in the court of public opinion (social media, newspapers, blogs, etc….). Whereas, those filing the complaints and others are free to distribute whatever falsehoods they feel like.

    If those parties would like to sign a waiver of their confidentiality, I would be thrilled to engage in a direct confrontation on the merits of any complaint or suit we might face.

    Having just completed a course in Employment law covering numerous cases and the whole alphabet soup.of both laws and the various agencies and their respective processes, I am very comfortable in my position.

    Please re read Mr CRABBYPATCHGAL’s postings. Note the grammatical issues, the spelling errors and the constant attack approach. Also notice that he sings about freedom of speech, but yet hides his name. Unlike the founders of our country he has neither the conviction, nor the courage to step forth.

    I feel sorry for those whose live in fear of speaking freely, and thus, hide as he does.

    [email protected]
    408.460.5965

    • Sir, of course you live freely with no fear!! You have not been an abused party to the abuses uncovered,…. but may be a willing participant in it, I’m appalled by your audacity! How dare you, sir?? You hide behind your position feeling insulated!!! Step up in a public forum and answer the questions! Tell the pubic the truth about how you’ve ripped them off!! Tell them about how you have endorsed the corrupt , inept, and hostile actions of the incompetent administration you continue to endorse and support, no matter how many complaints to the contrary!!! You are appointed, not elected!!! No doubt, more will come to light to show the corruption in this district, and the abuses…. and in other educational institutions. Sir, I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes when the truth is revealed, perhaps through the grand jury!!! You just finished a course?? My God!!! How do you find yourself in this position of trust and responsibility without the prior required legal knowledge? Who is in charge of our educational institutions? More unqualified and inept administrators who adhere to and willing to turn a blind eye to reality?` To your future dismay, sir, I trust the truth will, be revealed.

  10. Mr. Dean, you appear to be confusing employment law matters, and issues of licensure that are of reasonable concern to the CTC. My point is that these two separate functions should have been bifurcated — that is to say, split — by MetroEd many years ago. This is my expectation as a taxpayer and educator. By allowing unqualified personnel to administer credential matters, MetroEd has become quite visible, for all the wrong reasons. I’m going to say this again — Ms. Wadsworth should be recommended for her courage to relate complex issues that have obviously made you rather indignant.

  11. MetroED has a few staff members, 5 specifically, who only care for themselves, have no relevant trade skills or retirement savings and are just looking for people to attack and blame for their own incompetency and cash in.
    They forward their own agendas and have no idea how to work with others. They are bullies and the organization will have a chance to shine once these people move on. Someone should help them out. This article is a seeded shame and while it may have facts, it is framed poorly and does not show the whole picture. Shame on this rag for missing the other side.