Allyn vs. FUESD trial begins

Opening arguments were heard Monday, Oct. 7, at Vista Superior Court, in the civil court case of Elaine Allyn vs. Fallbrook Union Elementary School District (FUESD). The suit, which claims Allyn, the district’s former information technology director, was wrongfully terminated by administrators in an act of retaliation, requests that $972,000 in lost past and future wages, benefits, punitive damages, and attorneys fees be paid to the plaintiff. The suit also alleges the district violated public policy by misusing public funds.

Judge Jacqueline Stern and a 12-person jury heard opening arguments from Allyn’s attorney, Michael Curran, of Curran & Curran Law, that detailed a time frame from the summer of 2011 to May 2012.

“This case is really about an abuse of power, a breach of public trust, and a cover up that included retaliation by her bosses,” said Curran. The primary individuals under fire by the plaintiff are FUESD superintendent Candace Singh and associate superintendent Raymond Proctor.

Curran said the evidence he will present will demonstrate to the jury that Allyn, an 18-year employee of the district who has received several awards of distinction both in the community and in her position, fell out of good grace when she questioned Proctor about an order he gave her to delete electronic files which were protected under existing policy as well as state and federal law.

“Proctor told her to ‘wipe the archives clean;’ when she said she couldn’t do it within the law, [Allyn] fell out of the circle of trust and [Proctor] retaliated,” said Curran. “We will show how Proctor had been peppering budgets, manipulating monies. As a result, they spent $100,000 of public money to create a cover-up.” From that point on, the retaliation continued, Curran alleged.

Curran said Allyn was also asked by Singh to “hide” $42,000 of improvements made to the then-new superintendent’s office in the information technology (IT) budget because she “didn’t want it to flag the board [of trustees].”

The plaintiff’s case, as outlined, also alleges that district officials “hacked in” to files and emails to create a scenario for the dismissal of Allyn from her position. An earlier complaint by Allyn also alleged sexual harassment by Proctor. Curran said evidence will also show the investigation into that claim was purposelessly assigned to a subordinate of Proctor’s in order to control the outcome.

“We know they secretly went in and fussed with her files,” said Curran. “Elaine noticed what had been changed and experts said her files had been hacked.”

On Feb. 14, 2012, Curran said Proctor put Allyn on leave and walked her out of her office.

“The evidence will show that everything in this investigation was highly unusual, and that misrepresentations to the FUESD board [of trustees] led to [Allyn’s] termination,” said Curran.

“The evidence we will present will fully support our case and the jury will notice that there are significant emails missing from the defense’s case,” he added.

Gil Abed, a partner in Stutz, Artiano, Shinoff, & Holtz, said the evidence he will present in defense of FUESD will show a different set of circumstances.

“We will show that when Ms. Allyn was put on administrative leave for misconduct, there was nothing on record that she had complained about anything before that,” said Abed, who also provided to the jury character background on the district officials under fire.

Abed also explained how decisions regarding the hiring and firing of employees are ultimately determined by the five-person board of trustees. “They are the ones that run the district,” he said.

In outlining what his case will contain, Abed said he will provide witnesses who will state improvements (upgrades) were needed in the information technology department.

“Ms. Singh tasked Elaine Allyn to have the IT department audited to see how to accomplish these improvements and Allyn dropped the ball,” claimed Abed. “The district feels that over the last three years they lost opportunities in subsidies they claim she was responsible for.”

Abed said Singh discovered someone was reading her emails during the time frame in question and questioned Allyn about it.

“Ms. Singh said when she told Ms. Allyn about it, she had no reaction; that was odd in Singh’s mind,” said Abed, who also alluded that Allyn knew information contained within them without an email being directed to her on the topic. “Or was that just a coincidence?” he commented.

Abed also said there was no existing policy on how long (general) email had to be retained by the district and that Allyn “took matters into her own hands on retention time frames.”

Essentially, Abed said, Singh saw “a breach of security; a breach of trust,” which led to recommending that Allyn be dismissed from the position.

Contrary to that, Curran said “What really happened is she took issue with her two bosses for manipulating and misusing public funds. The charges they are making against her are a ruse, a cover-up.”

Allyn’s base salary at the time of her termination was $103,397. The person hired to replace Allyn, under a revised job description, was hired at a higher salary.

The trial has been estimated to run 10 days.

36 Responses to "Allyn vs. FUESD trial begins"

  1. Lee   October 10, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    " . . . requests that $972,000 in lost past and future wages, benefits, punitive damages, and attorneys fees . . ."


  2. Lee   October 10, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    PPS. Oh yeah, I almost forgot: do WE, THE PEOPLE, get to vote directly on teachers’ and public school officials’/employees’ salaries? If not, why not? Where’s the democracy? Where?

  3. Joe   October 10, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Lee, go READ! None of the people named in this suit or referenced in this article are teachers.

  4. Observer   October 10, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Pretty accurate article, good job. I would invite anyone interested to observe the trial, Dept 27 in Vista resumes next Tues. It has been very interesting so far. It was clear to me that Dennis Bixler the District HR Dir. changed his testimony at least twice on a significant issue. He first admitted Ms. Allyn complained to him that Proctor and Singh directed her to wipe the District archive server. The next day he tried to deny it claiming it was not in his notes. Then he was forced to admit it again when Allyn’s lawyers showed it was in his notes. Wow!

    Singh was forced to admit she never even researched the investigator the District used to investigate Allyn, turns out he is District lawyers investigator and has done 500 investigations and been paid $1,000,000 in public monies working for Districts lawyers and thier District clients. Wow!

    Singh was also forced to admit District had no evidence Allyn read her emails as District accused. It seemed to me that Singh tried to lie and claim Allyn deleted evidence but was shown to have made that allegation up by Allyns lawyers. Wow.

    Abuse of Power and Breach of Public Trust, Cover Up and RetaliatShameful

  5. Cal Teacher   October 10, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    Ms. Allyn was NOT A TEACHER. She was an information technology director. I AM a teacher. I just finished working a 50 hour week. After nearly 30 years in this profession, I certainly don’t earn anything close to $103,000! No local teacher does or ever will. We spend six to eight hours each weekday caring for our community’s children and facilitating their learning. We spend time after the "work day" planning, grading, creating, participating in continuing education, attending meetings and collaborating. For anyone to say we do this for the money is just plain ignorant. If you think teachers are so bad, you should try to do the job.
    I’ll bet you wouldn’t last one day in my classroom!

  6. Steve   October 10, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    Lee, you’re a moron. Learn to write saliently like an adult. Capitalizing every other word to be inflammatory makes you look like an absolute idiot. Not to mention, you didn’t even read the article. No one involved in this story is a teacher.

    Allyn was a technical director for an entire school district. Six figures is expected in such a field if the district wants to hire competitively.

  7. @lee   October 10, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    Yo lee you got a life man every article I look at I see your name in the comments. And all those comments of yours are ridiculous come on go outside get off the computer for once

  8. Rebecca   October 10, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    Lee, back off. The teacher of the year awards is something so well deserved. The candidates in that auditorium represent the best of the best in their profession…BECAUSE THEY TEACH!! Consider being appreciative that our children get to learn from these amazing teachers – FOR FREE!! Remember when you were in school? Didn’t you have a favorite teacher? I’m sure it had something to do with the fact that he or she showed you how to ENJOY LEARNING SOMETHING. Dwell on that. Write a dissertation about your favorite teacher; and stop bashing this noble profession.

  9. For a Free America   October 11, 2013 at 8:07 am

    I can’t figure out why anybody even reads anything that Lee writes.

    The one thing I want to point out is that no matter how this turns out, the millions of dollars spent on this will all come out of our taxes. Not one dime will come from the pockets of the people involved. There is no incentive for anybody here to change their behavior. They will all go work for other school districts and keep doing the same types of things over and over. Every hard working taxpayer should be scared knowing that 40% of the US GDP is now government.
    CA public school teachers the 4th highest paid in the nation. CA students rank 48th in math achievement, 49th in reading. page 36

    We need a voucher system in this state that will allow people to send their kids to private schools and then slowly start shutting down the whole public education monstrosity. Check out the movie "Waiting for Superman".

  10. ZZZ   October 11, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    This is our 6th year in charter school. They are free. We live in Fallbrook, a few blocks from the HS and travel to Temecula-3 times a week, and it has extended tutoring hours. (We have a group of car-poolers)

    Julian Charter School branch-Murrieta High School Academy is Temecula Pkwy/I-15
    Pacific View Charter School is also free – Mission/Airport Rd. You don’t need vouchers – we signed up and went.

    95% go to college-either 4 yr or community college. 150 students in the four grades, dress code and no tolerance. Your student is expected to do all their homework at home, otherwise you’re out.

    Teachers are young and motivated with students success, their number 1 priority.

  11. Observer #2   October 11, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    I have also observed the trial. I challenge the school board that answers to us, the community, to attend as much of the trial as possible. This would give them the opportunity to finally hear what has been going on at the district level, instead of telling the community they get their information from Mrs. Singh. They are Mrs. Singh’s supervisors, and if district management is hiding funds, and retaliating against employees who don’t assist them, then the school board can no longer continue to ignore the community and staff members’ pleas for them to get involved and have a basic knowledge of what has been happening. Jennifer Jeffries, Candy Singh, and Raymond Proctor are not their bosses, and they need to stop acting like they are.
    It will be interesting to see if any board member attends the trial.

  12. Local reader   October 11, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    Regarding some previous comments, here is my reaction: Stick to the topic, know your facts, and spare readers the untrue and inflammatory remarks. If anyone is interested in the real inside skinny on current educational issues and concerns, just read Reign of Error by Diane Ravitch or follow her blog. For your reading pleasure she addresses charter schools, government mandates, private for-profit groups diverting tax dollars away from public schools, tenure, etc. The public is being fed a steady diet of misinformation about public education and teachers. Several billionaires (via their tax-sheltered foundations) and hedge-fund execs view educational tax dollars as just another bank account to raid. Do your homework and realize what is going on beyond the sound bites and superficial headlines. Of course, Lee, reading Dr. Ravitch’s book requires the ability to decode and comprehend multisyllable words; you will also need to understand basic research results and understand common logic…might be a bit of a stretch for ya’.

  13. Local reader   October 11, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    Observer #2, I totally agree!

  14. Re: Comment 11   October 11, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    That is a VERY relevant comment Observer #2. The management of our district, by lying and intimidation, has got to stop. But it won’t until the members of our school board open their eyes and ears. This trial is the perfect opportunity for them to take off their rose colored glasses and get some truth.

  15. Following this....   October 11, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    FUESD is C……..! It’s about time the big cheese get caught.They’re all in kahoots making the big bucks putting more and more pressure on teachers. “In the best interest of the children,” is plain BS; it’s in the best interest of the district officials. They got caught red handed and now they’re trying to cover up with a fabricated whopper of a tale. Watching them stumble over their words in the trial makes FUESD even more of a mockery than it has been in the past. Can’t wait to see Allyn see justice.

    Lee, you’re totally missing the concept. This article and trial is about district employees, not teachers in classrooms. Try to focus.

  16. hmmmm   October 11, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    To observer: Great comments! If you are able to follow this trial, please keep us updated.

  17. hmmm   October 11, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    Observer #2: Yes, I agree, the school board officials need to attend the trial instead of listening to what Singh and her "assistants" feed them. Will they attend? Doubtful. They’ve been conditioned to look up to her. In my opinion, Bixler, Singh and Proctor along with the Board wipe each other’s dirty hands.

  18. wrongful termination   October 12, 2013 at 9:59 am

    I believe this is a common theme in FUESD–wrongful termination. The District board members and high level executive employees have the power to dismiss whoever whenever. I have seen many well respected principals, teachers, substitutes and personnel staff forced into resignations, relocated, and/or terminated. Fortunately, teachers and some classified employees do have unions backing them. However, those "at will" employees do not. Kudos to Ms. Allyn for standing up for justice!! Let the truth be known!!!

  19. jas   October 12, 2013 at 10:08 am

    I have several friends in the schools in Fallbrook, and I have heard horrible stories. Its about time these issues come to light of our community.

  20. Time for the Truth   October 12, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    Observer #2 is correct. The Governing Board of the FUESD has a history of rubber stamping everything that comes from Mrs. Singh. If you want to see a gross misuse of public funds just check out the redecorated District Office where thousands of dollars have been spent that should have gone to our schools. It is time the Mrs. Singh and the Governing Board be held accountable. Here’s hoping this trial does just that.

  21. Teach   October 13, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    For a Free America, do you have any idea what you are posting by way of rank? How that is measured? You say 48th. 48 measured how? Are you aware, for instance, that EVERY state has its own standards and standard of measurement? Have you, for example, compared California’s standards, to say, Texas? Or Alabama? Or New Hampshire? Or Arizona? Are you aware that each state determines what is proficient, and what is not? Do you have any idea what each state’s accountability measure looks like, and what the criteria are? Do you have any idea what you are talking about? I don’t think so. This is what the Common Core is supposed to fix. This very uneven playing field of measuring student success. And yet states are pulling out. I wonder why? Could it be those assessments might expose their "proficiencies" when the measurement is the same? Hmmm….

    If you did a little research, you’d know that California has some of the most rigorous standards in the entire country. You’d also know that we have among the highest number of English learners, and that it takes between 4 and 7 years to "master" the language, all the while expecting them to be proficient or advanced on English language assessments, and while we never use that as an excuse, we do factor that in when it comes to comparing ourselves to states that do not deal with this issue the way we have to.

    It doesn’t sound like you know much about education at all, nor the criteria of standards, or assessment for that matter, when comparing across states.

    So, before posting media/political soundbites as fact, do a little research. Otherwise, someone who has is going to question those politician slick one liners you just threw out there.

  22. Lee   October 15, 2013 at 8:27 am

    @ # 9 For a Free America

    No, we most certainly do NOT need a voucher system! The only thing that a voucher system creates is segregation, separation and division for mommy and daddy will now move their kids to "better" schools which the vast majority of inner city folks cannot, of course, afford. The, shall we say, "brilliance" of the No Child Left Behind program introduced by that hee-haw Texan and Wyoming dude was that it placed the power in the hands of mommy and daddy . . . which, of course, folks ate up with the biggest spoon they could find (we always love when Uncle Sam dangles the concept of individual rights before us!) while it did very little — diddly squat, actually — to actually IMPROVE the quality of education. So what we need is a concerted effort to improve education.

    And that ain’t done by simply throwin’ money at it!

    Folks, remember every election how teachers were, and continue to, whinin’ and trying to convince us that we need to pass this bond measure for schools here, that tax increase for schools there and ALL those monetary necessities for our failing schools? Remember? Well, guess what? We passed them, threw money at the system . . . and yet our children STILL rank behind the world’s children in many, if not most categories of testing.

    Translation? Money OBVIOUSLY ain’t the problem; our TEACHERS are!

    Teachers, would you be willing to switch to having 401Ks instead of pensions as your retirement option? Yes or no. If no, why not?

  23. grunt   October 15, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    @ teach – while some (maybe a lot) of what you say is fact; how do you explain that Education Week rates Ca 36th? This is not based on ease/difficulty of standreds but a true assemtnt of education results. Texas has about the same number of English learners, yet is much higher rated than California – and as "For a Free America" stated, pays less. Common core maybe the states are pulling out due to 1) cost and 2) not approving of the material (English including eubonic – similar language, referening pimps, etc). I am pretty sure you will agree that the public education offered in CA is below what we had as children – I am not in the field so I do not have all the solutions, but I think one would be to stop the teacher union, another to end tenure.

  24. Meanwhile, back on the topic   October 15, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    This article is NOT about teachers. It is NOT about the state of our schools. It’s about a person wrongfully terminated and FUESD administrators lying about it. It’s about a trial. Can we get back to that?

  25. skinny   October 15, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    @ Teacher @ grunt @ Lee. This article is not about Common Core. It is about fuesd on trial. Stay focused.

  26. Update please!   October 16, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    Can we please have an update from anyone who has been attending the trial?? Sadly, Village news is not able to cover it this week.


  27. Observer #2   October 16, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    I am so ashamed of our school board members. They have not attended the trial. They would be horrified by how the witnesses for the district contradict one another and can’t produce credible evidence. Where are they? If this trial goes beyond the end date it will be a mistrial. Isn’t that a misrepresentation of justice? The attorneys for the district are doing everything in their power to make this happen. Why? They will get paid for a new trial! Mrs. Allyn’s name has been tarnished. She has lost her job and income and now has the label of terminated, and all because she was trying to protect the district and our "disappointing" board who could care less!

  28. curious   October 17, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Observer 2: What do you mean if the trial goes beyond the end date, it will be a mistrial? When is it supposed to end? Yes, I totally agree, as I’m sure many others reading and following this story will agree, that would be a HUGE misrepresentation of justice. Have you been at the court house following this?

    There are so many interesting comments here—the ones that focus on the story on hand. As pointed out this article is about the potential wrongful termination of an employee–not a teacher–not how poor teachers are–just focus on the article. I’d like to point out to Lee the money involved in any school bond is NOT controlled by teachers. That’s exactly what this article is about: Control. It’s about WHO holds the power.

  29. John   October 17, 2013 at 11:39 am

    I find it odd that this story is not updated daily. It is a story/case that affects almost everyone in the community whether as a taxpayer, or parent. We get all the weekly social, faith, food, obits., and real estate ads but not a big story like this.

    VN – We do not have a big enough staff to have someone at the courthouse every day.

  30. take action   October 17, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    To everyone who feels as if the Board and the District people are not doing their jobs, you need to unify and show up at the Board meetings and use your 3 minutes of public comment time to speak up. If the community unified and demanded change and accountability for our schools, it can happen. You can also send a message to the Board by not reelecting them. Most of those members have been on the Board for a LONG time, but they keep getting reelected. Maybe it’s time to put parents on the Board because they actually have a stake in what happens to the District. This wrongful termination suit will not hold anyone accountable or change anything. About the only thing guaranteed from this is that tons of money that could go to improving our schools and helping our children is now being spent on this lawsuit instead.

  31. Shocked   October 17, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    I have been watching the trial and during testimony it was discovered that the District spent over $42,000 on just the investigator ALONE in the wrongful termination suit against Ms. Allyn. This does NOT include the attorneys or any specialist hired.

    The results of the investigation: NO conclusive evidence against Ms. Allyn. Yet, they still fired her?!?


  32. Shocked #2   October 18, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    Our Governing Board is not really paying attention! On the brand new board agenda, almost $20,000 is being spent on furniture for the District Office. What is this new Superintendent doing? Our community really needs to stand up to this Governing Board and MAKE them open their eyes and do their job. This is getting really, really ridiculous!

    It’s obvious the board does not want to open their eyes and know the truth. They have NOT been at the trial at all to hear the "real" truth of what goes on in their own district that THEY are suppose to be governing.

  33. Update please!   October 18, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    To #31 – "Shocked"
    There has been a dearth of information as the trial moves forward! Can you please share more?!! The Village News has been the ONLY publication covering it but they haven’t been able to attend this week or post any updates. I’ve been spoiled by their on-line updates of stories and this has been hard with no more coverage upcoming!
    Anyone else out there with facts to share? PLEASE?!!! I so wish I could attend but I must be at work.

  34. who to fire?   October 18, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    FIRE: BIXLER, PROCTOR and the SCHOOL BOARD. Mrs. Singh should be put on notice and if they are not all fired, good luck to anyone that tries to uncover wrong-doing. What they did to the IT director was wrong. Now we all will be paying the price. When we know we have public officials whom we have elected and who are committing these acts, do we keep them in their positions because we know it or do we fire them because we know it. I say the latter

  35. Le Mou   October 19, 2013 at 11:07 am

    After attending this trial for several days, I am amazed and disgusted at the way it is being conducted to obtain a just and timely hearing of the facts so the jury to deliberate and reach a final decision. Instead we hear the court constantly tell the attorneys they have only a few days to complete witness testimony or she will have to leave and declare a mistrial because of her absence. Yet, she allows defense attorneys who say they need a half day to question a witness to drone on rephrasing the same question to the witness for two full days with no other apparent purpose than to eat up time and obtain a mistrial. A mistrial will not only result in substantial unnecessary expense to the District and the plaintiffs, it will mean the jurors have spent weeks of their time to no purpose. Justice delayed is justice denied. The old saying ‘if you want justice go to God, otherwise learn and work the system’ applies.

  36. VILLAGE NEWS STATEMENT   October 22, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    The Village News has opted to discontinue comments on this particular story. A new story on this trial will be published in the next issue of the Village News, which will be available this Thursday, Oct. 24.
    The judge in this case declared a mistrial on Monday, Oct. 21.
    A full story on what has transpired is in process.
    For those upset with the inability to comment on the old story, please understand many incoming comments contained inaccurate information about the mistrial, the resulting upcoming process and timeline.
    The Village News has the right to discontinue comments at any time due to legal responsibilities.
    When the new story publishes (and posts to the website) on Thursday, there will be fresh opportunity to comment on the information contained within the new story.
    Thank you to all for your understanding.

    To those who have said the newspaper must be involved in a "conspiracy" because we have disabled comments for the next two days, you are absolutely wrong. It is out of respect for our readers that we wish to publish the story about the mistrial first based on accurate information obtained from the parties involved.

    Thank you
    Debbie Ramsey, Managing Editor


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