Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, August 17, 2013

MVNews this week:  Page 6


Mountain Views-News Saturday, August 17, 2013 

Arcadia Police Blotter

From Arcadia’s Best


Arcadia’s Best received 
the following open letter 
Friday (Aug. 9) from 
three members of the 
Arcadia School Board 
who are the targets of an 
intended recall election, 
for which a petition 
drive is being mounted 
primarily relating to the 
decision of the School 
Board, including the 
Superintendent, not 
to renew the District’s 
optional year-to-year 
agreement to pay one of 
their physical education 
teachers, Jim O’Brien, 
an extra few thousand 
dollars per year to coach 
the cross country team. 
He has taken the team to National Championships in recent years and he has also ruffled feathers of 
officials for finding a way to accomplish things his way after the District has turned down some of his 
requests — setting up his own summer training camp when the Distict told him he could not allow 
students to run off campus due to being uninsured by the school; spray painting damaged lockers 
with an X to denote that they could not be secured after officials told him the lockers would not be 
repaired or replaced; taking female student athletes to Mammoth Lakes for training wthout District 
approval (he was reprimanded but later won a grievance against the District over the matter).

The decision not to renew his annual appointment as coach of the cross country team, which was 
officially made in June but which had been brewing for some months and for which parents of students 
have been expressing concerns at school board meetings since earlier this year, culminated in 
a 15-minute video being produced and viewed by thousands that encouraged the coach’s reinstatement, 
and a special School Board meeting last month at which about 600 people attended and about 
50 people spoke passionately in defense of the coach. Shortly after that meeting, the School Board 
announced it would take no action as a result of that meeting.

Since then, an official filing was made to register an intent to recall three school board members and 
there has been almost daily front page stories in the Pasadena Star-News this week about the coach 
noting long-resolved issues of years ago and recent reports to and from the School District and the 
California Interscholastic Federation regarding reports of possible rules infractions.

Jim O’Brien remains employed as a physical education teacher at Arcadia High School — this matter 
is limited to his former supplemental coaching duties of the cross country team.

The recall campaign against the three school board members being targeted requires signatures from 
20% of the city’s registered voters, or more than 5,600 voters, to mount a special recall election.

With this background for those readers who may not have been familiar with this story, Arcadia’s 
Best is publishing the following open letter in its entirety and verbatim as received by e-mail on Friday, 
Aug. 9, 2013:

An Open Letter to the Arcadia Community

Recently, there has been a lot of public discussion about the removal of James O’Brien, the Arcadia 
High School cross-country coach who has had a number of very successful seasons over 
the years.

As a matter of policy, the District does not publicly comment on personnel matters. First we are 
legally precluded from providing details of private personnel issues. Second, we are true believers 
in allowing people to maintain their privacy in employment matters.

However, the details of many of the issues that have brought us here have been released by the 
employee himself. Given this reality and the fact that this issue is creating some intense division 
in some portions of the Arcadia community, we believe it is appropriate to address it and hopefully 
put the matter to rest.

As a result of a call from a CIF representative and information from some students and parents, 
it became clear that Mr. O’Brien had created a pattern of rules violations through his coaching 
practices, which in some cases seemed to completely disregard CIF rules. Unfortunately, the violations 
and his refusal to take responsibility for those actions undermined the many good things 
he was doing for our students. What’s more, if we didn’t take corrective action to address the violations, 
the CIF may have imposed sanctions that could have kept our students from competing.

We were elected to be education leaders and it’s vital that we model integrity and good sportsmanship 
for our students. We hold our students to the highest standards of honesty; why would 
we not hold our coaches to that same standard?

The decision to remove Mr. O’Brien as coach was unfortunate and difficult. The championship 
trophies that line the Arcadia High School trophy cases are evidence that he was able to pull true 
talent out of our children.

But as representatives of this community, we made the decision to remove him because we do 
not believe that a “win at any cost” mentality has a place in our school district. Instead, we believe 
our students deserve to be taught that honesty and integrity are the most important character 
traits we can instill and winning should be the result of hard work and strong performance 
– within the rules.

We are fortunate in Arcadia to have some of the most talented, intellectually curious, and focused 
students in the state, along with a hardworking instructional team that has developed an 
academic program that optimizes our students’ capabilities. The evidence of this fact is overwhelming. 
From our unmatched API of 929, a graduation rate of 98.3%, and 93% of our graduates 
self-identifying as college bound, this community is proud to produce such strong students.

As a Board of Education, it is our responsibility to make these hard decisions. It is unfortunate 
that this reassignment had to occur. But it is also unfortunate that this one decision has become 
the focus of a recall effort. Given the success we consistently see in AUSD, it is our hope that the 
community at large will understand that while employment matters are difficult and we all like 
to get trophies and win, the priority must be maintaining and enhancing the strong academic 
program we have here at AUSD.


Cung Nguyen, Lori Phillipi, and Kay Kinsler

Mr. Nguyen, Mrs. Phillipi and Mrs. Kinsler are members of the Governing Board for Arcadia Unified 
School District who are the subject of a possible recall effort related to the decision to remove James 
O’Brien as Cross-Country Coach at Arcadia High School. If the recall qualifies for the ballot as a special 
election, it is estimated it will cost the District about $300,000.

For the period of Sunday, August 4th, through Saturday, August 10th, the Police Department responded 
to 913 calls for service of which 121 required formal investigations. The following is a summary report 
of the major incidents handled by the Department during this period.

Sunday, August 4:

1. Around 10:41 a.m., officers responded to Motel 6, 225 Colorado Place, in regards to a robbery 
report. An unknown suspect stole $800 cash from the victim’s wallet and fled the location. Officers 
conducted an area check, but the suspect was not located. The suspect is described as a Black male, 6’ 
tall, 160 lbs., with short black hair, a mustache, tattoos on his arms and neck with the letter “F” tattooed 
on the left side, and wearing a dark blue shirt and black jeans. 
2. Just before 1:15 p.m., an officer was dispatched to a traffic collision in the 100 block of West 
Huntington Drive. One of the drivers attempted to flee the location on foot, but was detained by officers 
a short distance away from the collision. An investigation revealed the intoxicated 42-year-old Hispanic 
male collided into another vehicle that was exiting “Gate 5” of the Santa Anita Race Track. He was 
arrested and transported to the Arcadia City Jail for booking. 

Monday, August 5:

3. At approximately 3:00 p.m., officers responded to the parking lot of 99 Ranch Market, 1300 
South Golden West Avenue, in regards to a robbery that just occurred. The victim explained he was 
loading groceries into his vehicle when an unknown subject approached him from behind, pulled his 
handbag from underneath his arm, and ran to an awaiting vehicle that fled eastbound on Naomi Avenue. 
The victim’s bag contained a Louis Vuitton wallet, $6,000 cash, a passport, and multiple credit cards. 
The victim believed the suspect followed him from the bank to the market. No witnesses were located. 

 The suspect is described as Asian, approximately 40-years-old, with short black and white hair, wearing 
a grey polo shirt. The suspect vehicle is described as a grey, older model four-door Toyota with a license 
plate containing the letters “AFO”. 

 Around 6:20 p.m., an officer was dispatched to the Arcadia Public Library, 20 West Duarte Road, in 
regards to a grand theft report. The victim walked away from his computer to use the restroom and 
discovered it missing when he returned. No one reported seeing or hearing anything suspicious. 

Tuesday, August 6:

4. At about 1:57 a.m., an officer conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle for driving east in the 
westbound lanes of Huntington Drive near Holly Avenue. The officer discovered one of the passengers 
was in possession of drug paraphernalia and had an outstanding misdemeanor warrant. The 25-year-
old Black male was arrested and transported to the Arcadia City Jail for booking.
5. At some point before 4:00 a.m., unknown suspect(s) forced entry into a residence in the 1200 
block of South Tenth Avenue, ransacked a bedroom, and stole numerous items of property including a 
desktop computer and cash. The victim could not recall if she left the front door unlocked before leaving 
the location. No evidence or witnesses were located. 

Wednesday, August 7:

6. At approximately 12:07 a.m., an officer responded to an alleyway in the 000 block of Alta Street 
regarding a subject check. The 46-year-old Hispanic male was found lying on the ground, extremely 
intoxicated, and unable to care for himself. He was arrested and transported to the Arcadia City Jail for 

 Just after 3:20 p.m., an officer responded to the area of Elkins Avenue and Canyon Road in reference 
to a bear sighting. The officer located the bear in the driveway of a residence and fired a less lethal round 
to divert him back into the wilderness. After being struck, the animal fled the location out of sight. 

Thursday, August 8:

7. At about 4:53 a.m., an officer conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle for a broken tail light in 
the area of Santa Anita Avenue and Colorado Boulevard. An investigation revealed the driver had 
an outstanding misdemeanor warrant and was in possession of methamphetamine. The 33-year-old 
Hispanic male was arrested and transported to the Arcadia City Jail for booking.
8. At approximately 8:08 a.m., officers were dispatched to a residence in the 700 block of 
East Camino Grove Avenue regarding an unknown male adult submerged in the pool. The subject, 
pronounced dead at the scene, was found with small lacerations to his inner forearms. Preliminary 
investigation revealed the death was inconsistent with a drowning and appeared to be a suicide. 

Friday, August 9: 

9. Just after 8:00 p.m., an officer responded to H&M at the Santa Anita Mall, 400 South 
Baldwin Avenue, in regards to a theft report. A 13-year-old female subject of unknown race concealed 
merchandise inside a used shopping bag and exited the store without making payment. She was 
arrested, transported to the Arcadia City Jail for booking, and later released to her mother. 
10. At about 9:30 p.m., an officer was dispatched to Chevron, 11 East Live Oak Avenue, in 
regards to a robbery that just occurred. A male suspect stole approximately $20 in change from the 
cash register and fled west on Live Oak Avenue after being confronted by the store clerk. Officers 
conducted an area check, but the suspect was not located. A records check revealed the suspect’s 
vehicle, which he left parked beside a gas pump, was reported stolen out of El Monte. The suspect is 
described as approximately 16 to 21-years-old, 5’7” to 5’9’ tall, wearing a black sweatshirt with “CAL” 
in white letters, a red baseball hat, black pants, and black shoes.

Saturday, August 10:

11. Just after 7:00 p.m., an officer responded to a non-injury solo traffic collision on Baldwin 
Avenue, north of Las Tunas Drive. The driver of a 2013 Mercedes C250 made an abrupt turn and 
struck a signal light. The officer determined alcohol was not a factor. 
12. At approximately 10:06 p.m., three 15-year-old male subjects were found trespassing in a 
construction site at Arcadia High School, 180 Campus Drive. All three juveniles were arrested for 
Trespassing and Curfew Violation, and later released to their parents. However, one subject was also 
charged with Possession of a Switchblade. 

Jim O’Brien - Photo courtesy of