It’s been an intense week of revelations about what happened after a school counselor gave a negative college recommendation of a school board member’s son. Finally, Thursday, we uncovered emails that show Marne Foster, the board president, demanded action and got it — including a new, much more positive, evaluation for her son.

Eventually, the superintendent removed the principal of the high school from her position.

Now, the questions seem to be turning to that superintendent, Cindy Marten. Did she have a better reason for removing the principal and punishing the counselor than that they had given a negative recommendation about a school board member’s son?

NBC 7 San Diego pressed Marten on this. She now says Foster had a right, as a parent, to communicate as she did with high-level district staff. District policy says she can’t as a board member but Marten says she used her personal email.

Marten said if other board members want, they can censure Foster.

Also on Friday, another school board member, John Lee Evans, called for a special closed session with his colleagues and an independent investigation into what happened. In a separate commentary for our site, he writes that many of the claims that have been made so far are “patently false” but he doesn’t say how.

Evans also vaguely described another incident in which Foster tried to force a staffing change on Marten during a public meeting.

Here’s how our Andy Keatts summed up that argument: “How dare you say the superintendent buckled to political pressure when no one was looking? Here: evidence she held strong when everyone was!”

Evans’ colleague Michael McQuary told us the closed session was probably going to be Tuesday, Sept. 22.

“I totally understand the serious nature of the charges, the conflicting interests of the various parties, and the implications for the district in terms of district credibility, board governance, and fair and equitable application of policy and procedures,” McQuary wrote.

Ex-County Pension CEO Sought More Checks

The former CEO of the San Diego County Employees’ Retirement Association, Brian White, apparently wasn’t satisfied with the $250,000 severance payment he received after his March resignation.

Our Ashly McGlone reveals White requested unemployment benefits two months later and is now receiving $450 a week from the state.

White, who served as the head of the county pension board for 18 years, abruptly left the post in March amid a series of departures.

His summation of the situation in his unemployment claim, which requires applicants to show they’re ready to work and unemployed through no fault of their own: “I served at the pleasure of the board. The board expressed they no longer had confidence in me.”

The U-T followed up our reporting with some other questions about how this is possible. As the U-T points out, the severance was supposed to clear up all claims.

Sac Report: Anderson’s Many Irons in the Fire

State Sen. Joel Anderson apparently has his hat in two rings, er, races. (Want more metaphors?)

The East County Republican isn’t just running against fellow GOPer Dianne Jacob in the 2016 county supervisors raise. He’s raising money for a 2018 state Assembly bid, too.

In this week’s Sacramento Report, Keatts reports that Anderson has gathered almost $73,000 for his Assembly race and another $271,000 for the county one. And he’s still got another $248k from his 2014 Senate bid.

Anderson’s got options.

Meanwhile, as Sara Libby reports, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins has yet to announce whether she’ll kick off another intra-party election battle in 2016 against State Sen. Marty Block, a fellow Democrat — but that hasn’t stopped people from choosing sides.

Podcast: You Will Care About Schools

Keatts was out of town this week so I hosted the podcast along with guest host Laura Kohn, the executive director of the Education Synergy Alliance. The whole show was schools — nothing but schools.

We reviewed newly released test scores and why the new test was so different than previous years. We also talked with Francisco Escobedo, superintendent of the Chula Vista Elementary School District, which performed quite well compared with its peers. He talked about why and how they’re dealing with the 37 percent of enrollees who are learning to speak English.

We also reviewed some of the choice quotes from this week’s conversation with Assemblywoman Shirley Weber.

Quick News Hits

• Susumo Azano, the Mexican national accused of illegally pumpming money into local politics has laid out his most complete case yet against the U.S. government. We profiled him early in the year.

• The weather advisory for the next several days is just plain weird.

• San Diego Unified School District did have a record week — for lockdowns.

• Officials may be on the cusp of identifying the John Doe who was part of inewsource’s Impossible Choice series.

• Manpower issued its monthly employment report: “San Diego continues to rise above the uncertainties facing many regions around the country,” said Executive Officer Phil Blair. But inewsource crunches data and reports that incomes still haven’t recovered from the recession. The poverty rate is steady.

• KPBS explores where laid-off Qualcomm workers will land.

• Someday they’re going to catch the freak who is putting razor blades in parks. Someday.


Finally, just a note of gratitude. Thanks for all the great messages of support we’ve received this week. Many of you have noticed how hard we’ve been working breaking important stories, going in-depth on education, land use, government and cultural efforts and spreading coverage from North County to South Bay and Sacramento.

This job is hard and sometimes it gets us down. But you should have seen the energy in our staff this week. There really is no better thing to see than a reporter who has just figured something out.

Thank you to everyone who supports that, and this service. If you haven’t donated yet, but follow all these stories, please consider it.

Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

Leave a comment

We expect all commenters to be constructive and civil. We reserve the right to delete comments without explanation. You are welcome to flag comments to us. You are welcome to submit an opinion piece for our editors to review.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.