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Full Version: Taft's Boyd 'Creepy, Neanderthal' Hiding in Shrubbery
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Which member of Gus' stalker crew has a Taft "law degree"? Seems altogether appropriate now that we see how the owner/chancellor of that "law school" behaves. The perfect role model for swarming assholes everywhere!

Quote:How an Orange County School Official Ended Up In the Shrubs Outside His Opponent's Home
Will Swaim
May 31, 2018

On April 5, Mari Barke's morning routine was interrupted when a neighbor called to report "a very creepy guy"? in a BMW had been parked outside Barke's Los Alamitos home. When Barke looked, the car was gone. The next morning, Barke's husband, Jeff, went out to retrieve his newspaper. There, he says, he encountered a man with "comb-over dark hair"? waving a package. "I am serving your wife," the man said. Jeff Barke responded with what seems linguistically/existentially/physiologically obvious: "You're doing nothing of the sort." The man dropped the package on the driveway and fled.

The arboreal letter-carrier was David L. Boyd, incumbent county school trustee from District 2, and therefore one of Orange County's most powerful elected officials. Mari Barke is his opponent in the June 5 election.

How that man--arbiter of issues affecting half a million Orange County students--ended up in the shrubbery outside a political opponent's home is just a piece of the weirdness surrounding Boyd.

Boyd also owns Taft Law School, a for-profit online business that brings in millions of dollars in federal loans from students who rarely graduate nor pass the state bar exam. State regulators have not only questioned Taft's poor student performance, but also raised the possibility the school retroactively boosted grades to help students qualify for federal loans. Taft was never sanctioned.

When Mari Barke announced she would run for Boyd's seat, it was his online law school that Boyd seemed most eager to defend. In a prickly Jan. 31 email to her, Boyd expressed his "hope you chose [sic] to run a clean campaign."

Then came the hammer: "However, it's only fair to warn you that if you, directly or indirectly, attack members of my family, my employer or its employees, you can expect that we will respond in kind. As a start, this could mean protesters/picketers at your [husband's] place of business in Newport Beach."

Strangely for a guy warning Mari Barke to steer clear of his law school, Boyd signed off with two honorifics: "Chancellor, The Taft University System"? and "Trustee, Orange County Board of Education."

Then Boyd went deeper into the figurative bushes. He cc'd that email to Denis Bilodeau, chief of staff to county Supervisor Shawn Nelson. Bilodeau replied:

I have no idea why you sent the email below to me.
You and I have never spoken, exchanged emails, nor met, and I condemn what you are suggesting in the strongest terms possible. Threatening your opponent, Mrs. Barke, is unethical. Threatening to disrupt the medical practice of her husband, Dr. Barke, is beyond despicable. You are obviously a bully, and I have no intention of allowing anyone who sees this email to think I am somehow involved in whatever it is you have planned.

When longtime Southern California reporter Tori Richards called Boyd for her story about grade-changing at Taft, Boyd threatened her, too. "This is to put you on notice that you may, knowingly or unknowingly, be a party to an extortion attempt," Boyd wrote in an email.

It's easy to understand why Boyd insists opponents ignore controversy at his law school. What's less clear is why he impulsively involves that very law school in his threats. For example, when his early attempts to derail Barke's campaign failed, Boyd turned to the courts--and once again involved his law school.

In his March 19 lawsuit seeking to deny Barke's ballot designation as "ESL teacher,"? two of Boyd's Taft employees served as surrogates. Christine Baldwin, director of admissions at Taft, was listed as plaintiff. Taft's dean, Robert Strouse, was listed as attorney of record.

But Strouse and Boyd made numerous mistakes, including inexplicably waiting until just a few days before the legal deadline to notify anyone that the suit had been filed. Deadline pressure drove Boyd into the Barkes' bushes on April 5. But when Boyd dropped his notice in their driveway, a judge said, he had not served Mari Barke. The judge dismissed Boyd's complaint.

Beneath Boyd's fecklessness is a very real struggle. Maintaining the county school board title is likely helpful to his business. The halo of public service can only help a man being questioned about shortcomings at his for-profit school.

But there's a deeper issue: the future of public education. Barke says she decided to run for Boyd's seat after seeing him vote against multiple charter schools applying to serve in poor communities where huge majorities of students fail to read or perform math at grade level.

Attorney Tim Adams, a member of the Orange County Charter Advocates for Great Public Schools, said endorsing Barke was easy: "Education leaders in Orange County voted overwhelmingly against endorsing David Boyd because of his abysmal record on charter schools."

The battle for the school board seat has even produced its own #MeToo moment.

"How incredibly sexist, in 2018, that [Boyd] tries to bully Mari Barke by threatening to go after her husband--as if she is simply an extension of her husband instead of an activist and a business person in her own right," said Carolyn Ben, president of the conservative Lincoln Club's Women's Leadership Committee. "It's creepy and Neanderthal."

Creepy? Neanderthal? The native habitat of such a creature is almost certainly the well-watered shrubs of North Orange County.

Stalking a female political opponent outside her home? I wonder where he could have gotten such an idea?

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Quote:There, he says, he encountered a man with "comb-over dark hair" waving a package. "I am serving your wife," the man said. . .How that man--arbiter of issues affecting half a million Orange County students--ended up in the shrubbery outside a political opponent's home is just a piece of the weirdness surrounding Boyd.

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Remember a waaay back in 2009 when Nosebutt was complaining because his exams got "lost"?

nosebutt Wrote:Gevalt!

So I took my final exams for the first trimester at the local university and...

They lost the exam answer sheets. The local university, not Taft.

I'm not kidding. HOURS of sweat, blood, toil and tears (and an awful sinkng feeling) and they can't figure out what happened to my answers.

If Taft can't find my answer sheets, what ahould happen? SHould they assume I passed? Or make me retake? Or what? I put a solid YEAR into these classes.

I think that I should get the grades I got for the coursework. But will they DO that?

Then, miraculously, Taft decided they would just "waive the final exams" and grade him on his previous work in the course.

nosebum Wrote:Vinny,

Taft, it appears, agrees with you. The school sent me an e mail this morning saying that they'd consulted with their accreditation agency (DETC) and decided to waive the final exams for these two courses altogether. My coursework grades will become my final grades.

That's good.

But I mentioned that the exams were hard for me. Actually passing would have built a bit of confidence. Oh, well, tax exams are ALWAYS hard for me yet in the past I have never failed one.

I'm enrolling for the second trimester in the next day or so.

I only mention this because there seems to be some controversy concerning Taft's grading policies--or "grade changing scandal" as the OC Weekly described it.

State Bar Investigated Grade-Changing At Online Law School Tied To County Schools Official
Quote:In a series of 2016 emails, State Bar director of education standards George Leal pressed Santa Ana-based Taft Law School administrators to explain the school's practice of retroactively raising grades of students. Leal identified cases in which Taft raised the grades of students who failed to earn at least a 2.0 grade-point average during their first two years, but had their grades raised later.

In a January 14, 2016, email to Taft officials, Leal questioned the school's motives in adopting the policy. "Finally and very candidly," Leal wrote, "I cannot ignore the fact that apparently, a motivating factor in the use of these two policies is expressly tied to maintain a student's eligibility" for federal student loans.

You have to wonder how many other students had their exams "lost" and then received whatever grade they might have earned otherwise, or maybe just got a gentleman's "A" for effort. Does DETC/DEAC know about these little problems at Taft?
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Quote:California Law School Receives Millions In Federal Student Aid Despite Grade-Changing Scandal, Subpar Graduation Rates

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By Tori Richards
March 5, 2018

An online law school owned by an Orange County trustee has continued to receive an accreditation that has been the gateway to millions of dollars in federal student aid -- despite a grade-changing probe by the California State Bar and failure to meet the accreditor's graduation standards.

In a series of emails from 2016, a State Bar official blasted Taft Law School for its policy of changing the grades of failing students, which enables them to take one of the nation's toughest Bar exams. In one case, the revisions came five years after the courses ended.

Taft is located in Santa Ana, California, and is owned by David L. Boyd, a trustee with the Orange County Dept. of Education. He also owns an online college in Colorado.

In the past five years, only 7.5% of Taft students have continued on to a required fourth year of study, far below the 73% graduation benchmark imposed by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). The DEAC accredits law schools that don't meet American Bar Association standards, opening a pipeline for the schools to receive federal student aid.

The DEAC specializes in online colleges and universities and operates with the approval of the U.S. Dept. of Education. Despite missing the benchmark every year, DEAC executive director Leah Matthews defended Taft and claimed that the low graduation rate included a mix of general education students even though Taft''s website clearly states that the statistic is for a J.D. degree program. She added that the school has passed each review.

"As outlined on their website, Taft Law School provides programs both for students seeking a general legal education as well as those pursuing a degree and a legal career," Matthews said. "As such, measuring the entire student population on outcomes (graduation rates) that are not relevant for a meaningful percentage of the students would be inappropriate."

Taft has been accredited by the DEAC since 2003, the same year Boyd began his 15-year run sitting on the agency's Standards Committee, according to public records. The DEAC was asked to comment on this, but rather defended Taft and forwarded this reporter's emails to Boyd. Boyd would not agree to a phone interview for this article.

"To me, that raises concerns of agency capture," said attorney Kyle McEntee, founder of Law School Transparency, a non-profit dedicated to transparency and accountability in law schools. "The regulators are too in bed with the regulated. If their policy is to let the schools know that someone is inquiring about them -- that is incredible. That right there bothers me more than [BOYD] serving on their board."

Non-profits like DEAC often rely on volunteers to serve on commissions, McEntee said.

"It's something to keep an eye on and blow the whistle when it's going too far. It seems to me that this is a case where it's gone too far," he added.

The school's poor performance could be the reason behind a grade-changing policy for failing students that landed Taft in trouble with the State Bar two years ago.

Taft's Bar passage rate has been half the state average of 45 to 55%. Between 2011 and 2015, a total of 199 students took the exam and only 43 passed, according to a Taft disclosure page which has since been removed from its site. The State Bar has refused to provide a breakdown by school for the past two years.

Students with failing grades are ineligible to take the exam and also cannot receive federal aid. Since 2008, Taft students have received more than $14 million in tax-funded student loans, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

In a terse email exchange, the State Bar condemned Taft after discovering changed grades in a transcript that accompanied an unidentified exam applicant.

"A student who had their grades revised after their first year and still failed to be at good standing at the end of their second year could and should fairly be characterized as someone who has 'demonstrated they are not qualified to continue,'"? wrote the State Bar's George Leal, citing a state code that calls for unaccredited schools to kick out students who cannot get passing grades.

Leal, who is director of Educational Studies, discovered that Taft had revised the student's failing grades in both the first and second years, allowing him to barely squeak by with a four-year cumulative average of 2.04, emails show. He went on to say "I cannot ignore the fact that, apparently, a motivating factor in the use of these two policies is expressly tied to maintain a student's eligibility for Title IV (federal) loans."?

Boyd responded that the grade-changing program was found to be "acceptable and in full compliance with federal law" during a 2014 DOE audit. He identified himself as the chancellor of The Taft University System and also "Trustee, Orange County Board of Education" in an automatic signature.

"I am personally concerned and alarmed at your comment regarding our student's use of Title IV loans,"? Boyd wrote. "The policy was also fully disclosed and discussed during our most recent site visit by your office."

Boyd said he implemented the policy of revising grades 30 years ago as a reward for students who pass the state's first-year law students exam, also known as the Baby Bar exam. Students at non-ABA accredited schools must pass this test after their first year of study in order to be eligible for the Bar exam later on.

Leal shot back that Taft's grade revisions extended beyond the first year into the second year as well.

"Given the average number of Taft graduates who qualify to take the Bar exam, compared to the school's average enrollment in the first and second years, I would assume that a majority of those students who benefit from having their first year grades revised do not graduate," Leal said. "For those who do, I would also question their overall performance on passing the Bar exam."

Taft's dean, Robert Strouse, responded a few days later by saying, "We are also concerned about both our Baby Bar and General Bar pass rates."

The State Bar's guidelines for unaccredited schools require schools to "adopt written grading standards that ensure accuracy, validity, reliability" and to "as soon as possible identify and disqualify those students who have demonstrated they are not qualified to continue under these standards."

The DOE was asked whether it was looking into Taft's access to federal student loan funds in relation to its run-in with the State Bar over its low graduation and exam passage rates. Press Secretary Liz Hill said,"No comment."

To be considered for federal aid, the school must obtain "institutional accreditation" and comply with all regulations, Hill said.

Hill was also asked about the credibility of the DETC and did not answer but rather said that the organization was federally recognized in 1959 and has a current recognition that expires in 2022.

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