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Schools Trustee Pressured Superintendent to Pay for Son's College

Newly unsealed documents show that San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten knew that then-trustee Marne Foster planned to submit a $250,000 legal claim against the district.

Newly unsealed documents show that San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten knew that then-trustee Marne Foster planned to submit a $250,000 legal claim against the district.

In an interview with an investigator from the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, Marten said that sometime after Foster discovered that an unflattering college evaluation letter had been written on her son’s behalf, she informed Marten she planned to submit a legal claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, against the district. That claim sought $250,000.

A claim was eventually submitted to the school district – but it was signed by John Marsh, the father of Foster’s son, not Foster. Foster told the Union-Tribune in August 2014 she had nothing to do with the claim.

According to the documents, Marten did not discourage Foster from submitting a claim, but said, “That’s weird you are going to file a claim against the school.”

Marten said Foster then told her to “do the right thing, you can make this happen.”

Marten felt Foster was pressuring her to approve a settlement and pay for her son’s college tuition, the documents show.

Foster Warrant Marten Claim

The conversation with Marten is just one piece of a lengthy search warrant unsealed Thursday by a Superior Court judge. The documents were unsealed at the request of media outlets including NBC 7, the Union-Tribune and 10News.

Marten also told the investigator that she was aware of Foster’s plans to hold a private fundraiser to benefit her sons. Marten was the one who suggested that Foster use gofundme.com to raise funds, according to the documents. She told Foster that the “website would likely take care of the accounting and collection of taxes,” documents show.

Foster Warrant Marten GoFundMe

The fundraiser and the legal claim filed with the district were the two incidents that led the school board to open an internal investigation, according to the warrant.

The search warrant documents also show that John Marsh, the father of Foster’s son, told investigators the same thing he told Voice of San Diego: Foster pressured him to sign his name on a blank claim form and Foster filled out the rest, then submitted it in his name.

After Marsh spoke with me, he contacted the district attorney’s office to tell them his story. Soon after Voice of San Diego published Marsh’s account, Foster asked him to call me and recant what he told me, the documents show.

Foster’s mother also pressured Marsh to change his story, according to the documents. Marsh received a text message from Foster’s mother, Sandra Foster-King, urging him to call me: “Protect everyone and call that man immediately and recant ur words and tell the truth: u filed those papers.”

Foster pleaded guilty earlier this week to a misdemeanor charge of accepting illegal gifts as a public official, and resigned her position on the school board.

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