Morning Report: Union Helped Fired CSUM Professor Keep His Job

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Morning Report: Union Helped Fired CSUM Professor Keep His Job

The Markstein Hall building at CSU San Marcos / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

In an investigative report completed last year, officials at Cal State San Marcos concluded that a tenured professor had sexually harassed his former aide and acted unprofessionally with three other students over the course of a single semester. Among other things, he complimented their looks, gave unwanted hugs and asked some about their sex lives.

The university tried to fire him. But after the employee union intervened, officials agreed to let the professor go on teaching if he agreed to drop his appeal and stop talking to the women who’d complained. He then went on both paid leave and an unpaid suspension.

Kayla Jimenez writes that officials determined the professor’s behavior was “unwelcome, sexual in nature, and sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive.” In his defense, the professor said the women had misinterpreted his friendly gestures and raised the possibility of implicit bias against him as a person of color.

According to the settlement agreement, the university dropped the issue to avoid “the expense, inconvenience and uncertainty of continued proceedings.” For years, Voice of San Diego has been gathering and reviewing documents related to sexual misconduct investigations in schools, many of which show that terminations are rare. 

As Jimenez notes: “Many schools that agree not to fire educators who commit misconduct, or that pay them to quietly resign, frame the decision as a responsible move to protect taxpayer money, because the agreements usually include a stipulation that the employee will drop further legal action.”

City Council Approves Long-Term Deal With SDG&E

The San Diego City Council approved Tuesday the long-term deal negotiated by Mayor Todd Gloria and San Diego Gas & Electric for the utility to continue providing energy to city residents and businesses, City News Service reported

The Council approval came despite four Council members – enough to block the deal, which required supermajority support for approval – telling the mayor they would only support a short-term agreement.

The new deal brings in more money to the city than the one negotiated last year by former Mayor Kevin Faulconer, which the previous Council declined to approve, punting the decision until the new mayor and new Council took over.

SDG&E will pay the city $80 million for the right to provide energy to city residents and businesses, plus $20 million into a new climate equity fund and $10 million in solar energy rebates. That $110 million to the city compares with $80 million the city would have received for a deal last year.

The new deal is structured as a 10-year deal where the city can vote to approve another 10-year extension if it’s satisfied, an arrangement those who voted for the agreement said was sufficient to hold the utility accountable if it didn’t follow the city’s climate priorities in the next decade. Supporters like Councilman Raul Campillo also emphasized that the city can get out of the deal for breach of contract within the first 10 years.

But others, like Councilwoman Vivian Moreno, said it was unrealistic for the city to be able to get out of the agreement, and that it was fair to say they were voting on a 20-year deal. Environmental activists pushing Gloria to take a harder line in negotiations had argued the same.

Councilwoman Ignites Debate Around Lincoln High School

Criticism of San Diego Unified leadership at Lincoln High School by Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe continues to fuel fiery debate among community members 

San Diego Unified board trustee Sharon Whitehurst-Payne said she was “concerned and disturbed by the disingenuousness” of Montgomery Steppe’s criticisms in an interview with KUSI. 

It’s unclear exactly what Whitehurst-Payne believes is disingenuous about Montgomery Steppe’s critique, which she published in an open letter last week

Montgomery Steppe pointed to continuous changes in leadership at the school and a stark achievement gap as reasons that the district seemed unqualified to give the school the resources it needs. 

Whitehurst-Payne said she and board president Richard Barrera have said in various interviews that Montgomery Steppe has been misinformed and that the school is doing great. Two years ago Whitehurst-Payne herself said Lincoln was dealing with problems that urgently needed fixing

She and Barrera will both meet with Montgomery Steppe next week, she said. 

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Andrew Keatts, Jesse Marx and Will Huntsberry, and edited by Sara Libby.

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