Monica Montgomery Lincoln High School
San Diego Unified School Board Trustee Sharon Whitehurst-Payne and San Diego City Councilwoman Monica Montgomery. / Photos by Jamie Scott Lytle and Adriana Heldiz

This post originally appeared in the June 4 Morning Report. Get the Morning Report delivered to your inbox.

San Diego Unified School District escalated its war of words with City Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe on Thursday.

School Board Trustee Sharon Whitehurst-Payne issued an open letter in response to Montgomery Steppe’s own open letter from a few weeks ago, comparing the councilwoman’s letter to the racist insult Cathedral Catholic football players notoriously leveled against Lincoln High players.

“Your attack on our students and Lincoln High School is beneath the dignity of your office. You owe those students and our community an apology,” Whitehurst-Payne wrote.

Montgomery Steppe’s letter from May 19 had included 12 questions that she wanted the district to address.

“I am writing this correspondence because of my grave concerns over the instability at LHS. Perpetual missteps have turned into a crisis that continues to impact our entire community,” Montgomery Steppe wrote. She specifically sought information about student performance and why the director of the school, who had helped manage it alongside the principal, had recently departed abruptly.

The questions and letter were unacceptable to Whitehurst-Payne.

“You should also know better than to request private personnel information related to employees of the district. I find it incredibly unprofessional to demand information on the transfer of an employee,” she wrote.

School Board President Richard Barrera had already dismissed Montgomery Steppe’s letter in a statement to the Union-Tribune. But the letter from Whitehurst-Payne was a significant escalation of the rhetoric and was seething in contempt: “Should you decide to educate yourself appropriately on Lincoln’s status, here is what you will find,” it reads, before listing accomplishments not directly responsive to Montgomery Steppe’s questions.

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...

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