Hilltop High School / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

The sprawling Sweetwater school district, which runs middle and high schools in the South Bay, got so many complaints about misconduct by a principal that it hired an investigator to look into it. He found there was “ample evidence” of “abusive” behavior.

So what happened to the principal, who was criticized by multiple staff members in public at a school board meeting? He got another job as a principal in the same district and stayed at that school for more than two years, our Ashly McGlone reports in a new VOSD story. After that, he was transferred again to an administrative job in the district. He’s now on paid leave after reaching an agreement to leave and not pursue a discrimination complaint.

McGlone’s story offers insight into the difficulties that face school districts when they get complaints about employees. And it raises questions about the actions by the district, which apparently couldn’t find evidence of illegal wrongdoing by the principal despite multiple complaints of abuse, slander and retaliation.

“School districts can fire principals or teachers for unprofessional conduct, immoral conduct, dishonesty, unsatisfactory performance, a felony conviction, persistent violation of school laws or district rules or for a number of other reasons outlined in state law,” McGlone reports. “Even then, though, the employee may demand a hearing before being dismissed. The process can cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars and take years.”

The former principal, Ernesto Zamudio, says he can’t talk about the case. The school district didn’t respond specifically about it either.

Zamudio was principal of Chula Vista’s Hilltop High from 2007-2015 and Olympian High in the Eastlake neighborhood for two and a half years. (Note: Hilltop High is my alma mater, but I attended long before Zamudio worked there.)

Politics Report: Another Mission Valley Ballot Measure Looms

This week’s VOSD Politics Report leads off with news that high-profile environmental attorney Marco Gonzalez is hoping to put a measure on the ballot that would eliminate city subsidies for projects at the Mission Valley football stadium property — so goodbye, operating the stadium at a loss so the SDSU Aztecs can play there. The measure would also require whoever builds there to build a park with their own money and run it for 99 years.

There’s a twist: Gonzalez is actually working for SoccerCity, the project that voters will consider along with a competing measure pushing SDSU West.

He’s also trying to make sure that SDSU West supporters can’t call themselves “Friends of SDSU,” and he’s raising the prospect that a legal fight over this issue could invalidate that whole initiative — leaving SoccerCity the only measure standing.

And: Local gun owners have a group of their own (no, not the NRA), and it’s endorsing a whole bunch of area candidates. Some are running in races as small as those for mayor of the tiny city of Solana Beach and seats on several East County school boards. It’s not clear how any of these offices would get involved in gun issues.

One endorsement, for sheriff, is raising eyebrows. Progressives have embraced candidate Dave Myers. But one activist pushing gun control measures says the gun group’s suppoer for Myers should give progressives pause.

Finally, the Politics Report tells you about a fracture in a local pro-housing coalition.

If you read the latest VOSD Politics Report earlier this weekend, take note of a correction: We incorrectly reported the political action committee San Diego County Gun Owners received money from the Republican Party. In fact, it bought a table for $2,500 at the annual Lincoln Reagan Dinner to raise money for the Republican Party.

Executive Director Michael Schwartz made a point to say he would love to support the annual Democratic Party dinner too. That dinner, the Roosevelt Dinner, was held over the weekend.

• After just two and a half years on the job, San Diego’s fire chief is quitting to run a fire agency that serves much of Orange County. In a Q-and-A, he tells the U-T that the fire department now has roving crews that fill in for firefighters who are training during the day and then, when evening rush-hour traffic makes it hard to get to emergencies quickly, “we stick them in different places throughout known congested areas so that they can respond to accidents, heart attacks, whatever it may be.”

Will Ferrell, aka Ron Burgundy, San Diego’s most famous fictional newsman, will urge voters at an Oceanside event to stay classy and vote for a Democrat to replace Rep. Darrell Issa.
Actor Billy Eichner will be there too.

Judge Lets Suit Targeting Cops, Chief Move Forward

Three years ago, a black man in City Heights left his apartment and, as the U-T reports, “found himself surrounded by more than 10 officers, with at least four of them pointing guns. A helicopter flew overhead. A canine unit was there.”

They were looking for a suspect, but it wasn’t him, so they let him go. The man sued, making a variety of allegations of misconduct against the cops, including the man who’s now the police chief.

Now, a judge has ruled that a jury will make the final call and the ruling includes this line about the cops’ reasoning for confronting the man: It’s understandable, the judge wrote, that the cops thought he might be their suspect, but “underlying this case is the more invidious problem that officers were looking for a black man, saw a black man, then pointed their guns at a black man. Targeting someone based on their race alone isn’t good enough.”

‘Most Depressing Parking Crater’ Alert

Who has the most godawful parking mess in the nation? We’re in the running, everybody! 

StreetsBlog has created a bracket-style tournament to crown “most depressing parking crater in North America.”The San Diego nominee? Well, let’s see if you can guess. It’s convenient to freeways, but it’s still a nightmare for drivers and “horrendous” for pedestrians and cyclists too . The trolley is nearby, but good luck finding a pleasant way to get from there to a hockey game, a concert or Liberty Station.

Yup, they’re talking about the Midway District. An anonymous person — clearly someone with functional observational powers — says “this area is [one of] the biggest urban blights on the coastal San Diego landscape.”

Quick News Hits: Last One in the Governor’s Race Is a Rotten Egg!

East County’s “Grossmont Union High School District has agreed to pay a former student football player and his family $7.1 million to settle a lawsuit that alleged the boy has permanent brain damage because the coaching staff did not recognize he had a concussion after a game.” (U-T)

San Diego still has one of the nation’s highest numbers of dogs biting mail carriers, with 46 carriers attacked last year, Fox 5 reports, more than in all of Chicago.

Several years ago, a temporary mail carrier was sacked after he blogged about the local canine menace and got national media attention. He later wrote a Reader cover story titled “People Will Tell You That You’re Late and You’ll Hate Them for It.”

There are 27 candidates running for governor, the U-T reports, including a few hopefuls who are, shall we say, unusual. A Green Party candidate, for example, writes this: “Teach your children calculus/And keep the planet safe/Or feathered stones and empty bowls/Will also be their fate.”

Speaking of numbers, a mathematician is also in the race. He says “America Must Regain It’s Greatness.” Maybe it could start by regaining its proper spelling skills?

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. He is also immediate past president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors (asja.org). Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga

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