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School board members approved a trip to China donated by Hanban, a nonprofit affiliated with the Chinese government, but turned down spending $835 to cover the costs of registration and travel to Los Angeles for school board President Shelia Jackson in light of a school spending freeze.

“We’re asking our employees to pay when our board members are not,” said school board member John de Beck. “I don’t think that’s fair.”

The Chinese government is covering all the costs from Los Angeles to China; other employees on the trip opted to pay the extra expenses themselves or using grant funds earmarked for the expense. It is the second time in recent years that San Diego Unified officials have gone to China on the Hanban dime; board members Katherine Nakamura and John de Beck went last year at no cost to schools.

Board members Nakamura, de Beck and John Lee Evans voted to approve the trip, but not the funds; members Richard Barrera and Jackson voted against the motion.

EMILY ALPERT

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