San Diego Unified plainly lays out the expectations for the school board and its president. The president, elected by other trustees, will lead the board and serve as its spokesperson.
A district ethics memo goes further: Board members are to build public trust, avoid conflicts of interest, refrain from using their positions for personal gain and adhere to the highest standards of transparency.
But as board president, Marne Foster regularly refuses to talk to media and has been absent from debates and interviews. She held a private fundraiser for her sons, advertising the event on a district website, and spread word through her professional connections – raising concerns about whether she was trying to leverage her political position for personal gain.
A principal says Foster used political muscle to meddle in affairs and end her job at the school.
Yet, Foster has been a consistent voice for black students who have been chronically over-punished and undereducated for decades in San Diego. She has had major impact on schools in her area.
Colleagues and supporters credit her for bringing a program that offers college credit to students at Lincoln High – a school that has sputtered academically for the past eight years, making incremental gains despite regular promises from officials they’d soon turn things around.
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Obviously Cindy Martin leads by intimidation and a lack of accomplishments. However, I would give board members some credit. I would ask the question "were other candidates for superintendent asked to apply for the job?' I understand there was, but I may be mistaken:).
Cindy Marten was chosen 24 hours after Admiral Kowba said he would resign in June,2013. The date Kowba announced, February 27, the school board announced their choice, February 28.
No other candidates were able to apply. Most irresponsible process I've seen. Barrera had his reasons for insisting on her, personal benefit for him.
It's not Marne Foster that is the problem in this story.
She didn't send Lamont Jackson, to fire Mitzi Lizarraga. She didn't authorize the sudden removal of Lizarraga, the day before graduation, students never given a chance to say goodbye to their beloved principal. Marne didn't call a night meeting, with three district representatives, telling angry parents, who insisted they wanted their principal back, that the district doesn't listen to parents or community. Ms. Foster didn't send Lamont Jackson, Moises Aguirre and Tim Asfazadour to tell these angry parents that Ms. Lizarraga could net return.
Cindy Marten is the superintendent of the district. She alone had the power to do this.
"Cindy Marten didn't know anything about secondary schools." Lizarraga is exactly right about that.
But it doesn't go to the core of the problem.
An irresponsible school board, chose a childish woman, who came in with a magic wand and magic red slippers. Cindy, a principal, who had very low test scores, that did not improve under her supervision. Right after being chosen, went on a speaking tour, from La Jolla to La Mesa, calling herself a 9-11 soldier for education. Then babbled her way through school board meetings, with "Quality School in Every Neighborhood", "systemic, systematic, sustainable, affirmative lens, positive deviance, equitable"...I'd add nonsensical..
Barrera did this. Just like he brought Marne Foster onto the board, as mentioned in this article, Barerra insisted that the board choose his good friend, Cindy.
On the recent audio tape,posted on Sandi.net, reviewing board policy, I heard John Evans state that when they chose Cindy, there were two for her and three against. Only Barnett joined Barerra in favor of Principal Marten, who instead of supervising her school, Central, was frequently lunching with Barnett and Barrera. On Youtube, Barrera called her a combination of Rosa Parks and Ceasar Chavez, ..Crazy...but he managed to get the other board members to change their minds. Evans, Beiser, Foster, you owe the public an explanation of why you supported Cindy Marten. No public input involved.
The school board, after two lost years, is now begging Marten to be more specific. Have specific goals and supporting data. No more meandering around looking for "what works." Explain your plan, in clear English.
We know why the politically ambitious Barrera promoted her, but Beiser, Foster, Evans...Why did you go along. A very irresponsible vote, resulting in sad stories like this..including the Grand Jury investigation.
@francesca thank you, great insight
She reminds me of the dads that "volunteer" for Little League when their real intention is to be in a position to make sure their son or daughter plays a lot. Whatever good she has done or attempted is not an excuse for this kind of thing. The woman should be removed.
Thank you, Mario for talking with Ms. Lizarraga. It is so good to finally hear how badly she was treated by Foster and the district employees doing her bidding. My daughter was in that year's graduating class at SCPA. She struggled at the end and almost did not get to attend graduation ceremonies.The rules governing grad "walking" are there to be fair to the kids who have worked hard to have the honor; to be recognized in front of the community. Both my daughter and I understood that. If she had not completed the requirements to walk, I would never have expected her to be included. What makes Foster's son special? A mom who doesn't play by everyone else's rules?
Incidentally, Ms. Lizarraga not being there to speak to the grads whom she had shepherded over thoughtfully, and in many instances personally, was very sad. And the contrast/awkwardness of having Foster do a long speech, addressing a community that was confused and disappointed by the events surrounding their beloved principal was not overlooked by many attending.
@MarioKoran @DistrictDeeds wordpress com Good initial article that covers a lot of territory. It is extremely difficult to cover such a big subject in one article. I have been writing about this and other improprieties on District Deeds for over a year and here is a little bit of additional background not covered...
1. Superintendent Cindy Marten direct improper involvement in ALL of Fosters improper actions. Lamont Jackson reports to Marten. Marten took operational action unilaterally from Foster AND neglected to report those improper requests to the other Board of Education members which is a gross dereliction of her duties as Superintendent. I cover this in detail on my blog.
2. The removal of Dr. Esther Omogbehin at Lincoln that was the "model" for Foster and Marten to remove a highly qualified Principal for no good cause because Foster was denied improper intervention at the school by a strong woman of color. In a well documented event with multiple witnesses, Foster improperly went directly into Lincoln to chastise Dr. Omogbehin, when she could not "break her", Foster left and Cindy Marten miraculously was in contact minutes later to remove Dr. Omogbehin. None of this was investigated by the SDUSD Board of Education...and of course because Marten herself was implicated, it wasn't investigated by her office either.
3. Although the press has been focused on the fundraiser for her son, Foster committed even a LARGER violation by using the Facebook link on her SDUSD profile to direct the hundreds of thousands of District Stakeholders to her POLITICAL fundraiser. Using ANY district resources...let alone a million dollar district website...as a portal to raise money for your election campaign is FLAT OUT ILLEGAL! I write about this extensively on District Deeds.
I can appreciate individuals in the Lincoln community and her District area to be hesitant to be critical of Foster, the only African American Board member. But what about the two African American Principals...Mitzi Lizarraga and Dr. Esther Omogbehin and the students of ALL colors they were able to help with their extensive skills and credentials and were cut off from that help when they were removed improperly by Foster and Marten? And what about the many many other Principals, Teachers and Staff that have been bullied and intimidated by Foster and Marten that are afraid to come out of the shadows for fear of retribution?
No ONE board member can be worth ALL that collateral damage to Students.
Let's elect MORE of the BEST individuals especially those who represent ALL the major demographic groups in San Diego and and get rid of those that think of their personal finances (including tuition expenses) and political careers first before everything else along with the District employees like Marten and Lamont Jackson who improperly enable them.
@dana deima Hi Dana! I'd love to hear more from your perspective. I get my information from folks directly involved and would love to hear what you have heard. Send me an email to District Deeds at Gmail Thanks!
Districtdeeds, could you please not lump Esther O and the experience at Lincoln together with what happened at SCPA? They are two different things. 85 to 90% of the staff at Lincoln did not wish Ms O to remain at Lincoln. And much of what happened at Lincoln such as 30% of the staff leaving when she came in, is very well documented as well as many anecdotal accounts from people who left. These accounts, such as offices and keys being taken away, to bullying and district procedures broken in favor of admin and cronies make one wonder why she was placed there in the first place and 'no', she did not come with high school experience. She came from a Middle School and it showed in her dealings at the school. I don't know where you are getting your information about Lincoln but you do not seem to have the full story. And MARIO, do you really need to use the 'f' bomb in your articles? "The use of foul language indicates the inability of a mind that cannot express itself forcefully"
If the local progressive powers don't want to lose her seat to a right wing challenger, they better put up a qualified candidate in her place next term. I'm not going to vote for her again. This principal Lizarraga sounds like a good option.
Any school board president who would have this type of fund raiser should be out of office. Not only for this type of crime but it just shows she would be open to other types of illegal activities. It appears she is more interested in enriching herself than to guide the cities students.