theebrandenburgs blogspear

This page is designed to share information about our struggle to gain equity for our unique children and their learning styles in a public education system that is designed primarily to teach a single type of learner, and which is increasingly sidelined by fiscal and philosophical issues that challenge the core of its collective existence. We are especially interested in unique learners, and the talented people who teach them, their families, and our shared value as human beings. We seek the end of discrimination, the end of seclusion, separation, and isolation, as well as an end to chemical and physical restraints that are commonly used to assault our children and our unique interpretations of the world.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Repost- Sierra Madre Patch- by Cassandra Morris Parents of Autistic Child Seek Investigation of PUSD

Parents of Autistic Child Seek Investigation of PUSD

Tony and Mary Brandenburg of Sierra Madre allege that a PUSD board member violated policy and are requesting an external investigation.
Tony and Mary Brandenburg, parents of an 8-year-old autistic child at Sierra Madre School, have requested an investigation by an external organization over whether the Pasadena Unified School District and Board of Education violated policy.
The Brandenburgs made a formal request for their investigation before the Board of Education at last week’s public meeting. Any member of the public is permitted to put an item on the Board of Ed’s agenda.
The Brandenburgs are alleging PUSD and Sierra Madre School staff violated policy in a number of ways, including the following:
  • That behavioral reports filed regarding their son did not follow district protocol
  • That PUSD employees knowingly altered records, created false documents and made false statements relating to their son
  • That PUSD staff withheld, and are still withholding, public documents about their son
  • That a board member discussed confidential business relating to their son outside of an official board meeting
  • That a board member actively planned and participated in a meeting with a group of Sierra Madre School parents regarding their son. The Brandenburgs allege that this falls outside of the Board’s duties.
  • The PUSD made significant changes to their son’s educational program without their consent
Board of Ed Vice President Edward Honowitz maintains that he did not violate protocol.
“Every action that I took was certainly in accordance with ensuring the confidentially that all parents are accorded under law and was appropriate in relation to the issues that were at the school site,” said Honowitz.
Honowitz said that he can not respond specifically to the Brandenburgs case because of confidentiality issues that board members are required to follow.
“They have a right to say whatever they want to say… it’s their opinion of what is happening,” said Honowitz.
Renatta Cooper, president of the Board of Ed, indicated that the board will discuss the Brandenburg’s request at their next meeting.
The board can decide to move forward with an investigation, reject the request or table it for a future meeting.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Call to Activate, January 24, 2012 & Archived June 2011

Bullying & Autism Follow up- Please re- post, share and help write letters

Hello. My name is Tony Brandenburg, and I am the singer of the Adolescents, an old school punk rock band from Southern California. 

In 2010 a group of aggressive parents met in a park to plan the removal of our son, who has autism, from his neighborhood school. This involved the filing of police reports, the circulation of a petition, and eventually involved a school principal, superintendent, special education coordinator, and a board member who met with, and assisted this group of parents in their goal.

In June, 2010 we reached out and asked for help from our extended community in a letter writing campaign to ask the Pasadena Unified School District to step in on our behalf regarding the bullying of our son by a parent vigilante group at the PUSD school site Sierra Madre Elementary School. The international response was powerful and resulted in our voice finally being heard.

I wish to thank you for sharing our story and the emails that circulated because of that call out. I am asking again for help in encouraging the PUSD Board of Education  and the Pasadena CAC to support our request for an external investigation regarding our claims- that a board member and members of  PUSD administrative staff and school staff violated our son’s right to a public education. At the bottom of this page are links that will take you to our story.

A simple statement copied and pasted into individual emails will help encourage the board and the new superintendent to support the investigation. It is our hope that we can settle this once and for all, both reinstating our son’s reputation, and sending a message to bullies everywhere that behavior of this nature will not be tolerated.

We need these emails to go out immediately; the board may choose to vote on it as early as Tuesday, January 30. If you can take a few minutes to help out, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Tony B


Dear ____________,

My name is _________ and I live in ___________. I am approaching you on behalf of the Brandenburg Family and their request for an external investigation. I wish to express my interest in the events that took place at Sierra Madre Elementary School and the subsequent actions at the PUSD District Office which involved Board Member Honowitz, former Superintendent Edwin Diaz, former principal Gayle Bluemel, and former Special Education Coordinator Elizabeth Blanco, as presented by the Brandenburgs to PUSD on January 17, 2012. 

Please consider my voice as part of a collective concern about the incidents that the Brandenburgs have discussed, and consider the necessity for closure and resolution of these events by supporting the request for an outside investigation as requested by the Brandenburg Family. 

Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Board Members and Superintendent emails

Mr Tom Selinski 
Ms. Elizabeth Pomeroy   
Mr. Ed    
Ms. Renatta Cooper, President        
Ms. Kimberly Kenne     
Mr. Ramon Miramontes 
Mr. Scott Phelps,       
Superintendent Jon Gundry


Information can be found at 

Brandenburg’s presentation @ 4:43 on video link of January 17, 2012 meeting


Post first run June 5, 2011



by Tony Bee on Sunday, June 5, 2011 at 3:27pm
On Monday, June 6, at 5:30- 8:30, The CAC Community Advisory Council, and Pasadena Unified School District Special Ed Department, held a event  at University Club of Pasadena, 125 N. Oakland Ave., Pasadena.

 My family  and a small group of friends stood outside of this event next to my truck with signs on it reflecting posiitiive, proactive statements, but statements nonentheless. A community member sotood with us as well, and introduced us to members of the board, and members of the community we live in.
Our friends helped us with emotional and physical support, helping to draw the signs, and helping pass out the following statement. We are grateful beyond words.

The police were called on us; a single car arrived, took a look, and left. We were a small group, peacefully assembled, and had not broken any laws.

It is truly pathetic that the police were called, perhaps the organizers had forgotten that WE WERE GUESTS, WE ARE PARENTS, and we belonged there. We had simply chosen to stand outside in the cold. That was the whole point- like my son, and thousands of other children with austism spectrum disorder, we were  


Between October, 2010, and January, 2011,  a group of parents from Sierra Madre Elementary School (Pasadena Unified School District) met on the school campus, a public park in Sierra Madre, with the PUSD superintendent, with the school principal, and with a PUSD board member, filed misleading and false reports with SMPD against a 7 year old child with autism, all with the agenda of removing the child from his classroom. This agenda remained unchecked.

We were given no information of these parent led discussions about our child and his challenges, including his behavioral challenges. We were denied a voice in this dialogue.  For approximately 6 months PUSD had denied these meetings had even taken place. However, on Friday, June 2, we received notification that the district did indeed have knowledge of these meetings.

Rather than directly addressing and curtailing this group of aggressive parents we assert that members of PUSD began using offensive, derogatory, and inflammatory language against my child-in order to excuse years of inappropriate physical restraints and holds, punishment, inconsistent behavioral interventions, & failed program implementation.

Beginning two months ago my family began contacting the Community Advisory Committee, as well as PUSD regarding  specific questions concerning an autism audit, and asked for information on requesting a Least Restrictive Environment audit. We received no response.

Our objective is, and has always been, to examine the environments within, and around the schools to determine a needs assessment,  as well as a plan of action and implementation to ensure that  what happened to our child does not happen to another child ever again.

Tonight the CAC will honor the hard work of educators in the field of special education. It is not our desire to draw away attention from the people being recognized tonight. We appreciate, and respect what you do for our children.

We wish, however to bring attention to a hidden disability, that being autistim spectrum and how it continues to be grossly misjudged in our society, communities, and, yes, our schools. The community response to these children can be harsh, and unforgiving- often not separating the child from the behaviors that result from communication and sensory challenges.

We stand with the CAC in its mission statement, and specifically with its vision that “by 2015 all Special Education students will be serviced properly by PUSD in their home schools.” We also support that the CAC is designed to give parents a voice in special education implementation.

However, we are concerned that PUSD special education  program implementation is systemically flawed, and what has happened to our child- and the PUSD response to our concerns- will occur again if we do not bring this discussion to the table in a public forum. We want to remind PUSD, and the Sierra Madre Elementary School community, that we, too, are members of a community,  and that we,  too have a voice, and that we, too,  can gather support, and that we, too, can activate a positive call to action. 

We are formally delivering this message to PUSD.

We request

1. That PUSD send a clear and concise message to Sierra Madre Elementary School- as well as other schools in PUSD- that bullying, whether it is by children, or parent vigilante groups, will NOT be tolerated, and will be handled as the hateful, ignorant acts that they are;

2. That the Pasadena Unified School District formally apologize to my family for its failure to keep us informed about the events that unfolded in October, 2010, and for the information it failed to release to us regarding the events of community bullying that targeted our child;

3. That PUSD stop trying to segregate our child from his home community and refrain from using derogatory, negative, and inflammatory labels against children with autism and other “hidden” disabilities, including my child;

4. That PUSD firmly establish a support network, and community supports, including disability awareness, before placing a child with disabilities into a general ed classroom.

5. That PUSD acknowledge that the findings in its independent audits are systemic deficits, and that these same deficits impacted our child’s inclusion in his community: transition planning, consistent data collection and documentation, social skills development, lack of staff training in autistic spectrum disorders, and deficits in behavior planning and implementation;

6. That PUSD implement an anti-bullying program to specifically address discrimination against people with autistic spectrum disorders;

7. That PUSD revisit its parent volunteer program, and that all parent volunteers be required to attend parent workshops before interacting with children on campuses; and

8 . That PUSD immediately implement a crisis counseling intervention program at Sierra Madre Elementary School to address what happened in October, 2010,  and to start the community healing process.



Thank you.

Tony and Mary Jo Brandenburg
 June 6, 2011. Sierra Madre, California

I again wish to that the people who stood with us, and the Barerra Family, because by acknowledging us they placed themselves in a position that must have been awkward. I also thank  Board Member Miramontes for contacting us, and Board Member Phelps for at least listening to us and accepting our literature. We knew that our presence was the flu, and whether we have their ear, or not, at least they treated us like human beings. Two reporters spoke to us, as well as a few parents and TWO PUSD employees. Thank you for acknowledging us.

To our friends who sttod with us, you may have felt it, I don't know. So you know, We recognized more than 60 faces that went through those MEMBERS ONLY doors at the social club. Let me know if you even got a nod. I did not, and I have known them for months, some for years. They made their statement, and yes, I got it.


I never thought I would still be facing social Isolation in 2011. To be treated with THE SAME social isolation as my child made me that more understanding of how cruel bullying is, and its subtle manifestations in the form of SOCIAL EXCLUSIONARY PRACTICE is well engrained in this school district's CULTURE. It is a divisive, political war, and not only do I better understand it now, it is clearly NOT just a Sierra Madre problem. It's district wide. It's a culture of fear, the fear of exclusion, the fear of what somene else will think...... maybe...... the fear of losing one's job?

Join the outsiders, then. We want your friendship.


The following post was first run June 4, 2011

Autism Segregation, discrimination, and bullying. Please help, repost, and share.

by Tony Bee on Saturday, June 4, 2011 at 8:56am
from Adolescents.usa
On Monday, June 6, at 5:30- 8:30, The CAC Community Advisory Council, an alleged parent liaison to the Pasadena Unified School District Special Ed Department, will hold a media event to pat itself on the back for its great work in including children with special needs. 

 The event is at University Club of Pasadena, 125 N. Oakland Ave., Pasadena. My family will be there in vigil, and ask anyone who is availabe to stand with us. It is very frightening for us to do this.

What is not going to be discussed, however, is how a group of aggressive and politically powerful parents at Sierra Madre Elementary School organized a petition, had secret meetings on campus and in a park, petitioned board members and a superintendent, and filed false reports alleging assault against a 7 year old autistic boy in a successful coup d'etat to remove the child from public education. Nor will they discuss how their lawyers bamboozled the Office of Civil Rights when the family called bullshit.

That child happens to be my son, and I am the singer of the Adolescents, an old-school punk rock band from Southern California. I'm am also an active and vocal member of the growing community of people touched by Autism, and no stranger to the bullying that was directed at my child and family.

I am asking for help. This is awkward, and uncomfortable for me. I have rarely asked anyone for help, especially strangers. It does not require money, but it does require time. I am asking that you call and write and email, and that you ask your friends to. I want them to know that the pressure they bowed to is minute in the world picture, and that bullying cannot, and will not be tolerated.

It is simple. Please share where you are located on the planet, and continue with a statement that addresses bullying- perhaps how bullying has affected you directly. Then share that you have been notified of a bullying situation directed against a autistic child at Sierra Madre School by a group of aggressive parents that resulted in the child's removal from school and the humiliation of the child's family. Please let them know that bullying and segregation of any human being is unacceptable.

My name is_________ and I am from __________. I am concerned that a situation of bullying took place at Sierra Madre School in the Pasadena Unified School District. Bullying is unacceptable in our world, and as a leader in education, it is your responsibility to support families in crisis when this occurs. We are united with the Brandenburg family in its opposition to community based bullying that targets ANY child. Thank you.

This can be copied and pasted easily into an email. The names at the top are the people with the most direct knowledge, but all of these people need to know. 

Thank you for your time and help.

PUSD Coordinator Special Ed Elizabeth Blanco- 
PUSD superintendent Edwin Diaz-
PUSD Director of Human Resources Steve Miller-
Principal of Sierra Madre Elementary-

PUSD Board of Education Members- (626) 398-0011 (626) 399-9596 (626) 255-7109 (626) 255-3286

rmiramontes (thank you for acknowledging our concerns)
sphelps (thank you for acknowledging our concerns)

The Community Advisory Council

 Blanca Siebels

Sue Clark
Violet Geddes
Kristin Tang
Joy Costello>
Nella Abelson
Mr. Louie

(None of these people would respond to our request for help.)

The mayor pro tem of Sierra Madre.

Reposted from June 12, 2011

Re-Posted By: Mary Bee

by Tony Bee on Sunday, June 12, 2011 at 8:24pm
Don't see Tony and myself as crying silently....but maybe...? Shouting to the Wall..........Not seen, will be heard.....?
Shared by German Barerra- a PUSD parent activist we just joined forces with......more to come  

Silent Cries of Our Community 

Last Monday evening was the Pasadena Unified School District SELPA CAC Awards Ceremony. As my wife and daughters approached the event of the organization I once chaired, the natural tendency was to walk right in and sit with many of the parents we have hosted in our home or had assisted through the years as they navigated the special education maze. This and the lure of seeing and meeting Academy Award winner Marlee Matlin, the evening’s recipient of an award for “helping tear down lingering stereotypes”, could not pull me and my wife away from the Brandenburg family and their friends who stood outside the event in silent protest. People entering and exiting could not avoid seeing the large signs taped up onto the Brandenburg family’s truck… “Bullying is not O.K”….. “Separate is not Equal!”…. “Inclusion means Everyone”… “Educate don’t Segregate”. The saddest part of the night was seeing the people we have helped through the years either avoid us or greet us from afar as though we were contagious. I could understand why long time School Board member and current Vice President, Ed Honowitz, quickly sped past us. He had already been programmed to promote that everything is fine and masterfully deflected any responsibility to the escalation of what clearly is a systemic problem in PUSD. It is easy for status quo people like Mr. Honowitz to ignore parents who are unsophisticated or too worn out. You see, it’s easier to stand with the powerful and articulate then to risk lending your voice to the meek or the misunderstood. Because my wife Rosie and I know that parent voices have been ignored by the CAC, we chose once again to stand with people whose voices not being heard. We see how the administrative and parent leadership is so blinded by their good fortune that they cannot or are not willing to see the systemic problems many face in the District.  We wonder why parent voices are stifled at the CAC meetings by parent leaders that are more interested in being nice than advocating what is right. We see how words are tossed around to look good on paper (and resumes) about ‘building bridges and collaborative relationships’ yet fall short of its promise. Parents are told to be the change they are seeking and then ostracized when they try or when they simply ask difficult questions. The glimmer of hope was personally seeing the few that indeed crossed the ‘bridge’ whether out of respect or intrigue, PUSD Board members Scott Phelps, Kim Kenne and Ramon Miramontes all crossed the ‘bridge’ and respectfully listened or asked questions. Even President of the Board, Renatta Cooper stopped on the ‘bridge’ to hear some of the pleas. One of the ironies we face in PUSD is that Sierra Madre School is assigned to Mr. Honowitz and is where the alleged discrimination is taking place. We attended Sierra Madre Elementary for three years (2004-2007) and encountered and saw some of the same exclusionary attitudes and segregation that continue to this day. I have shared my concerns with board member Honowitz for many years and it is obvious to have fallen on deaf ears. I’m certain Marlee Matlin would have heard the aching cries from the hearts of the Brandenburgs and the many families they represent. Hopefully soon we will have the people in place that will ‘listen’ and respond to the silent cries of our community.

German Barrero PUSD Parent PUSD SELPA CAC – Past Chair Roosevelt Elementary – SSC - Chair