Swift decision made on independent investigation of President Marne Foster

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Wednesday 6:40 a.m. – A swift decision was made by the San Diego Unified School District trustees Tuesday night in favor of allocating up to $40,000 for an independent investigation of board President Marne Foster, who is accused of abuse of power.   

No board members objected to beginning an investigation, but there were less than five people who criticized Foster, saying the incident points to other potential problems with leadership in the district.   

Strangely, immediately following the investigation order, the trustees, presented Foster with a proclamation recognizing her achievements as board president.   

About 15 people spoke in support of Foster. Foster supporters also collected signatures in support of the board president which were submitted to
district staff.   

Foster excused herself following public comment on the two items.   

Education and community advocate Sally Smith said the trustees severely limited the scope of the investigation.

"The issue right now isn’t education, it’s the behavior of the school board, specifically Marne Foster," Smith said. "If our children lied like
that they would be in big trouble with the principal."   

The main purpose of the investigation approved by trustees was to look deeper into a fundraiser held by Foster to help pay for her son’s college expenses. The question raised was whether she was secretly behind a $250,000 claim against the district, filed by her son’s father, that accused the school of sabotaging the youngster’s college plans. The claim was rejected by the district. 

The independent investigation will be completed by someone who has never been affiliated with the district, and board members requested an investigator who could complete the investigation in 30 days or in as close to a month as possible.     

The investigation approved by the trustees did not include a motion to address Foster’s alleged involvement in a shakeup of leadership at the School
for Creative and Performing Arts, which her son attended.

Tuesday 1:28 a.m. – Trustees of the San Diego Unified School District are scheduled to decide Wednesday whether or not to launch a formal investigation into school board president, Marne Foster.

Foster is accused of various improprieties including abusing her position and power to help pay for her son’s college tuition, including possibly making staffing changes at his school’s for creative and performing arts department while her son was a student there.

The board will be meeting tonight at 5 p.m. The meeting will be open to the public and will be held at the School District headquarters in Normal Heights.

9/23/15 9:42 p.m. – There is drama at the San Diego Unified School District.

School board members are calling for an investigation into their president. 

There have been questions about the actions of School Board President Marne Foster for more than a year now.

And now that there is a call for an investigation, parents and others want to make sure it’s done right.

A group of supporters gathered before this week’s San Diego School board meeting to stand with Foster.

"The single most important goal of the board is that all the facts be placed before the public, therefore the board has authorized the superintendent to release all pertinent information regarding what has transpired at SCPA over the past two to three years," said San Diego Unified School Board Member John Lee Evans, calling for an investigation into allegations of abuse by Foster. 

Foster is accused of using her power to get her son a college recommendation letter.

She then asked for it to be replaced with a more positive one.

Foster has also come under fire for holding a benefit, to raise money to pay college debt and tuition for her two sons.

San Diego Unified employees were there.

Foster later apologized and promised to return some of the donations.

Foster is up for re-election in 2016, and she’s already started fundraising, but some say she continues to break rules.

Now the results of a county grand jury investigation were released last month.

It was initiated after the issues came up with Foster’s son.

The report showed the district’s ethics and rules for trustees were not enough to prevent potential abuses of power. 

The district chose to take no action on those recommendations.

This independent investigation will be discussed at next Tuesday’s board meeting.

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