Morning Report: The School Sports Conundrum
Two coaches at Patrick Henry High School were fired this week following months of tension between cheerleading program leaders pushing to keep their program running during the pandemic and parents concerned about their kids’ safety.
Patrick Henry cheer, like other school sports, largely went dark in March when campuses were forced to close. But rather than wait it out, head coach Jill Clark said she thought she was doing all the right things when she rebranded her practices as the Patriot Club Cheer, and even shifted to invite-only sessions off campus.
District officials have maintained that any ongoing practices were not part of the school’s cheer program. Although, as Ashly McGlone reports, it now appears mixed messages from coaches, combined with allegations of retaliation against families who questioned ongoing practices, may have led administrators to fire the coaches this week.
SANDAG Showdown Day Over Controversial Audit
SANDAG’s board of directors is scheduled during a special meeting Friday to discuss an audit into the agency’s hiring and firing practices, the first report produced by an independent watchdog created by a new state law passed following the agency’s cost and revenue forecasting scandal of 2016.
The audit argues that the agency’s director has for years been exercising authority that rightfully belongs to the board of directors to give promotions and bonuses to staff, and alleges that severance packages given to three staffers pushed out of the agency when Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata took over were unlawful gifts of public funds.
But since the audit dropped, the auditor who produced it and the agency’s management have gone to war.
The auditor has argued that her findings have been suppressed and that agency leaders have “manipulated” her report, by excessively redacting portions of it. Agency leadership has responded that disagreement is not censorship; they think her report made incorrect assumptions that led the auditor to false conclusions.
That dispute has to some extent overshadowed the findings, which have received less attention than how they were handled. But the agency’s audit committee last week passed a series of recommendations composed by two members of the audit committee and its legal counsel, but not from the audit itself.
Now, it’ll go to the full board, where Ikhrata has already been in a years-long feud with some of his board members. How they’ll handle the report is unclear — as is whether they’ll have enough votes to adopt policies to rein him in.
In Other News
- San Diego Community College District will continue online learning for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year. (City News Service)
- Lawmakers statewide are lobbying the governor to allow playgrounds to reopen. (KPBS)
- Oceanside won a $50 million loan from the federal government to complete the financing for its Pure Water project, which would turn wastewater into drinkable water rather than dumping it into the ocean. (KPBS)
- The county’s unemployment rate has reached its lowest point since April, according to SANDAG, while the median price of a home in San Diego continued to inch up last month. (City News Service)
- About 4,400 San Diego residents have qualified for rental assistance because of financial hardship during the pandemic. The San Diego Housing Commission will consider a proposal that would add $3.2 million to the city’s rental relief fund. (Union-Tribune)
- Politifest is less than two weeks away and we have some exciting sessions lined up. We’ll talk about policing with Attorney General Xavier Becerra, discuss how Prop. 22 could affect the future of work with Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, host debates for major races in San Diego County and more. See the full schedule and register today.
The Morning Report was written by Megan Wood and Andrew Keatts, and edited by Sara Libby.