School Board Trustee Calls for Independent Investigation

Education UNVEILING THE UNSEEN

School Board Trustee Calls for Independent Investigation Into Foster Ordeal

San Diego Unified Trustee John Lee Evans has called for a closed-session board meeting and independent investigation to address ongoing fallout involving board president Marne Foster.

This post has been updated.

San Diego Unified Trustee John Lee Evans has called for a closed-session board meeting and independent investigation to address ongoing fallout involving board president Marne Foster.

On Thursday, Voice of San Diego published emails that show Foster demanded action over a college evaluation for her son, a violation of board policy. A school counselor was suspended over the evaluation, and the school principal was later reassigned.

In a long statement to VOSD Friday, Evans said many of the claims surrounding what happened at the School of Creative and Performing Arts “are patently false” but that he and other board members can’t dispute them because of “legal requirements that prohibit discussing confidential personnel matters.” He also said “it should be clear to everyone that we do not have a superintendent who caves to pressure from board members.”

After we published Evans’ statement, he sent this update, which goes a step further:

“There are multiple allegations in the media regarding the conduct of Board President Marne Foster. As a board we have not been able to respond to issues regarding personnel actions due to confidentiality laws. However, at this point to resolve this serious matter, I am asking for the board to meet in a special closed session as soon as possible with our superintendent and legal counsel to consider our options, including an independent investigation.”

I’ve reached out to the other members of the San Diego Unified school board on whether they’d support Evans’ suggestion. I’ll update this post if I hear back.

Update: School board Trustee Mike McQuary sent this response Friday. He notes that the board will meet in closed session next week:

I totally understand the serious nature of the charges, the conflicting interests of the various parties, and the implications for the district in terms of district credibility, board governance, and fair and equitable application of policy and procedures.

I was not on the board at the time, and I was unaware of the events that transpired, investigations that took place, or resulting actions taken.

However, I have been on the board long enough to know that we are a board which acts as a whole in a public forum and which is dedicated to finding truth and fairness, committed to increasing understanding and improved relationships, and arriving at solutions that are beneficial to all parties concerned. In addition, we have a strong superintendent, who  is a nationally recognized instructional leader, a competent and effective  manager, a powerful advocate for good governance and board member ethics and places students first, which includes the necessity of a safe and optimal environment for the educational process for all students, in all schools, across the district.

In reference to this current issue, *the board has acted appropriately on the information it had at the time and has been open to receiving new information. As new information is received this board will review, discuss with counsel, examine all options and will take action after discussing the issue in an open public meeting.

Our intention is to establish transparency and accountability on this issue as with all issue that come before the board, using due diligence, due process, and in accordance with board policy and procedures.

It is my understanding that a special closed session meeting dealing with this issue is in the process of being called for Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015.

Update II: From school board Trustee Richard Barrera:

I’m certainly open to an independent investigation — I look forward to our board discussion Tuesday.

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