Students arrive at Lincoln High in 2014. / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

Two years ago, the San Diego Unified School District announced new leadership at Lincoln High School, but it hasn’t been clear who actually ran the school in the years since, and now leadership at the school is in flux yet again, Will Huntsberry reports in a new investigation into the high-profile school in southeastern San Diego that has for years struggled academically.

Around the same time it appointed a new principal in 2019, the district also appointed a director to help guide the school’s administration team. Several school workers say the director was actually running the 10th, 11th and 12th grades and was functioning as the top official in the school. 

Now, the director, Jennifer Roberson, has been abruptly reassigned to other duties outside of Lincoln and some in the school aren’t clear on when or if she’ll ever be back. Staffers say her absence has left a vacuum in leadership and that they are nervous about a return to in-person learning without her steady hand to guide the school. 

The district’s communications director, Maureen Magee, disputes the accounts of Lincoln staffers and a document supporting their description, and said that Stephanie Brown, the principal appointed in 2019, was in fact in charge of all Lincoln grade levels. Magee said the document outlining a gradual role for Brown that would result in her becoming the full principal in five years was the starting point of a conversation.

“[The lack of stability] is pathetic. And this is something that goes beyond Superintendent Cindy Marten. It is also the direct ineffectiveness and the lack of leadership on behalf of the board,” said Philip Liburd, a community member who has been involved at Lincoln for years. “We have this supposedly progressive school board. But what’s been happening at schools like Lincoln and Porter Elementary and other schools – there’s not a damn thing progressive about that.”

Roberson’s reassignment in duties represents the sixth leadership shakeup at the school in the last 14 years.

City Still Committed to Convention Center Expansion

The City Council could declare next Tuesday that hotel-tax hike Measure C passed with a simple majority a year after it fell short of the two-thirds threshold typically required for tax increases for a specific purpose.

Last March, the citizens initiative to fund a Convention Center expansion, homeless initiatives and road repairs pulled in about 65 percent of the vote. Since then, multiple courts elsewhere in the state have concluded that citizens’ measures only require a simple majority to pass. Meanwhile, a global pandemic has devastated San Diego’s tourism economy.

Now, following a February letter from Measure C supporters, Mayor Todd Gloria is urging the City Council to assert that Measure C passed.

“In light of the recent legal precedent, the City Council should declare that Measure C was approved by voters and that we should pursue obtaining a court determination to ensure we can proceed with its implementation,” Gloria wrote in a statement. “A majority of San Diegans voted to expand the Convention Center, repair our streets and finally have a dedicated funding source for homeless services and shelter; it’s our duty to implement their will and make San Diego a better place for all of us.”

If the City Council decides the tax increase passed, visitors won’t immediately see increased charges on their hotel bills.

Jessica Lawrence, Gloria’s director of policy, wrote in a report submitted to the City Council that the city won’t increase taxes or take other steps to implement Measure C unless the city receives a “favorable trial court judgment or outcome in the lawsuit.”

A court ruling, if the city pursues one, is likely months away.

A resolution teed up for the City Council to declare Measure C passed indicates that the mayor is hoping Council members give city attorneys direction to proceed with legal action during the closed session before the public City Council meeting next Tuesday.

If the City Council decides to officially revive Measure C, expect debates about the state of the tourism industry and the Convention Center, which is now serving as a migrant shelter. The Measure C campaign sold the tax hike on the notion that expanding the Convention Center would have a profound impact on both the regional economy and the city budget, and that tourism tax collections would continue to rise as they have in the past. During the pandemic, tourism tax collections have tanked and the future of the convention industry is uncertain.

Immigration Expert Breaks Down What’s Happening at the Border

Last week, Tom Wong wrote a Washington Post op-ed arguing that federal immigration data did not support the conclusion that Biden administration policies had caused a migrant surge at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Rather, the UCSD professor argued, the increase in border apprehensions was driven by standard, seasonal migration patterns, combined with the delayed effect of many migrants opting not to seek asylum last year, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Intrigued, we asked Wong to break down his analysis for us in more detail on a special episode of the podcast. Among his insights: within the expected seasonal increase in border activity, there has been a shift among migrants who have made the trip, specifically to a larger share of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum. As 1,400-some unaccompanied minors moved into the San Diego Convention Center, Wong said there was no way to say how quickly federal officials could locate families of those kids, lessening the need for the Convention Center to operate as temporary shelter, while the seasonal behavior tapers off.

News Roundup

  • inewsource reveals that more than 1,260 San Diego renters missed out on assistance from the county’s COVID-19 rental assistance program because their landlords were uncooperative.
  • The San Dieguito Union High School District board voted this week to allow students to return to school in person four days a week starting April 12.
  • An autopsy shows a Julian man who died inside a county jail earlier this year choked on a face mask, the Union-Tribune reports.
  • NBC 7 San Diego reports that homeless families and youth are set to move into the second floor of Golden Hall a year after the city moved shelter beds out of the event center due to the pandemic.
  • San Diego’s home prices are among the fastest growing in the nation, the Union-Tribune reports.
  • San Diego Pride will celebrate the LGBTQ community online for the second year in a row, City News Service reports.
  • Times of San Diego reports that a state Court of Appeal has rejected the latest and perhaps final attempt to block construction of a center for Jewish students across from the UC San Diego campus.
  • The number of people hospitalized in San Diego due to COVID-19 increased slightly Tuesday, from 190 to 198. (City News Service)

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt and Andrew Keatts, and edited by Sara Libby.

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