Alleging a racially tinged “sham” school district investigation, a school counselor who wrote a negative report on a school board member’s son says she’s a victim of retaliation.
Kim Abagat, head counselor at the School of Creative and Performing Arts, filed suit Wednesday in San Diego Superior Court against the district and former school board president Marne Foster — already under investigation by the District Attorney’s Office.
“Although Ms. Abagat has been a hero to many students in need, here she’s the victim of a power play by a corrupt, vengeful trustee and a submissive but complicit school administration,” said Daniel Gilleon, one of her lawyers.
“The wagons at SDUSD have been circling for many months,” he said in a statement Thursday. “I wonder when Superintendent [Cindy] Marten will start telling the whole truth … about Ms. Foster’s incessant meddling in employees’ careers for her own personal gain.”
The suit alleges that it became Foster’s “custom and practice” to use her position to interfere with the employment conditions of SDUSD employees, “for her own personal gain without any benefit to SDUSD.”
Abagat is suing for unspecified general and special damages — but punitive damages against Foster only.
In December, the District Attorney’s Office served a warrant on the San Diego Unified School District regarding a criminal investigation of Foster.
She’s accused of abusing her powers with her alleged involvement in a staff shakeup at SCPA; being 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; and holding a fundraiser to cover her son’s college expenses.
The suit says Abagat, along with other current and former SDUSD employees, such as former SCPA Principal Mitzi Lizarraga and former Vice Principal James Jacoby, “has become entangled in Foster’s abuse of power in her position at SDUSD as board president and trustee.”
At one point Foster’s son bragged that “his mother got Principal Lizarraga fired,” the suit alleges.
Abagat, who like Foster is black, says she was suspended without pay over race and her refusal to give preferential treatment because of race or national origin.
“As a legal result of Foster’s conduct, Abagat suffered, and will continue to suffer,” the suit says.