San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan announces a new task force to prevent and investigate educator abuse. / Photo by Kayla Jimenez

An El Centro teacher charged with endangering children by providing marijuana and alcohol to students on a school camping trip received more than $20,000 to leave her teaching position last year.

An April 2019 settlement obtained by Voice of San Diego from Central Union High School District shows Monique Garcia, 50, was paid nearly $20,400 to resign last June and received an additional two months of health benefits. The district also agreed to tell future employers only that she voluntarily resigned and her position and the dates of her employment, from August 2008 to June 2019, district records show.

In exchange, Garcia agreed to resign and not file any complaints or lawsuits against the district. Such deals are incredibly common in cases of teacher misconduct, and the secrecy clauses sometimes allow employees to go on working in other schools that are unaware of their past misconduct. School district officials often say they cut such deals to avoid the cost and time required to fire teachers.

Garcia did not immediately respond to an email inquiry, nor did her attorney. Garcia pleaded not guilty to two felony and three misdemeanor charges at her arraignment March 3. The alleged illegal acts occurred during a February 2019 school camping trip, prosecutors said. Garcia faces up to eight years in custody and is currently the subject of a restraining order preventing her from contacting 16 students and two others, said deputy district attorney Stephen Marquardt.

A trial readiness hearing is scheduled in May.

Before teaching at Southwest High School in El Centro, Garcia worked in San Diego at Crawford High during the 2007-08 school year, and taught summer school in 2008, according to San Diego Unified officials.

Garcia was the first teacher charged by the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office following the November launch of the DA’s Student Safety in School Systems Task Force, formed after Voice of San Diego revealed systemic shortcomings in the systems used to report school employee misconduct.

Ashly McGlone

Ashly is a freelance investigative reporter. She formerly worked as a staff reporter for Voice of San Diego.

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