Board of Education in University Heights on Oct. 24, 2022.
San Diego Unified offices in University Heights on Oct. 24, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Earlier this month, Jakob McWhinney revealed that San Diego Unified was closing iHigh Virtual Academy to middle and high schoolers. This news shocked parents and teachers.

One parent told McWhinney that the school was exactly what her child, and her family, needed. She was happy with the school and didn’t understand why the district wasn’t going to offer it to students in grades 6-12.

What’s iHigh: The district redesigned iHigh from an independent study capacity to a regular school during the pandemic. It offered synchronous instruction rather than self-paced coursework. 

San Diego Unified’s Deputy Superintendent Fabiola Bagula told McWhinney that a principal’s two weeks’ notice sparked concern. The school had gone through several leadership changes in three years.

“That’s a big red flag,” Bagula said of the leadership turnover. Then, officials found other issues.

Performance metrics: More than 70 percent of students in the classes of 2024 and 2025 were not on track to graduate, according to district data. iHigh’s students were also receiving an abnormally high number of failing grades compared to the rest of the district, officials said.

The cost: The cost per pupil was nearly three times higher than the district average. Average per pupil spending is around $30,000 at iHigh, while the San Diego Unified’s overall average is around $11,500, according to the district. 

The district plans to offer families online options. Still, some parents are skeptical.

One teacher told McWhinney she disagrees with what the district said about the school.

Read the full story here.

Politics Report: The Law Shaking Up Political Fundraising

Very few people noticed when the governor signed SB 1439 last year. But now, the law has everyone’s attention.

Here’s what it does: The law requires elected officials to recuse themselves from votes involving anyone who gave them more than $250 in campaign contributions.

The Politics Report explains that if, say, a city councilmember got a donation from a developer for $500 and the developer’s project came up for a vote, the councilmember would have to either give back the money (within 30 days of learning that the project was up for a vote) or not vote.

Now that people are paying attention, what are they saying? “We work with real estate companies, elected officials and consultants across the state and there is complete confusion over the scope of the law and how it applies or what impact it will have on elections next year. Everyone was caught by surprise,” Jim Sutton, an elections attorney, told the Politics Report.

Read more about the implications and remaining questions about the law.

FYI: The Politics Report is available to Voice of San Diego members only. Support our work here and get access to the weekly politics newsletter. Trust us, good journalism is worth it.

VOSD Podcast: Local Republicans Push Back on ‘Housing First’ Model

This week on the VOSD Podcast, hosts Scott Lewis, Andrew Keatts and Andrea Lopez-Villafaña discuss the evolution of homeless solutions over the last decade — and how they’ve been wielded by leaders and policy wonks — including “housing first” versus “transitional housing.”

A special interview: KPBS reporter Andrew Bowen has a new podcast, “Freeway Exit,” dedicated to freeways, their impact and history. He joined Keatts during the last segment of the show to share what he’s learned about the creation and costs of freeways.

Listen to the Podcast episode here.

In Other News

  • The city of El Cajon is moving forward with a proposal that would penalize hotel owners if too many guests call 911 for issues involving fights, drugs or “nuisance” activity, the Union-Tribune reports. The paper reports that the “move is the latest chapter of a long-running dispute about crime and homelessness in East County’s largest city.” Read the story here.
  • The Union-Tribune also reports that a second review of a complaint that Chula Vista Councilwoman Andrea Cardenas violated the city’s election rules has cleared the councilwoman.
  • ICYMI: In the latest Cup of Chisme, our managing editor of daily news follows up on the story of a couple she has been following for months. She also provides a little context to a debate that’s going on about housing the homeless. Read and subscribe here.

The Morning Report was written by Andrea Lopez-Villafana.

Correction: This post has been updated to correct the political lobbying law. It’s SB 1439. A previous version of this post had a typo in the numbers.

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