The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education voted Tuesday night to appoint a replacement for Marne Foster, who resigned last week after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor.
The unanimous vote came after more than an hour of discussion and public input. The alternative was a costly special election.
The board set noon next Tuesday as the deadline for applications, which will be made available on the district’s website by Wednesday afternoon.
The board plans to have the new member sworn in at the March 1 meeting.
The applicant appointed to fill the rest of Foster’s term will also be allowed to run for a full term in the June primary election.
“We should not restrict the appointee from running,” board member Richard Barrera said. “That’s is up to the voters.”
About a dozen residents of District E spoke emotionally to the board before the vote.
“We need transparency, we need someone in the seat who looks out for our district,” Edith Smith said. “It’s about what’s best for the students.”
One District E resident implied that the board was not being transparent.
“You have already picked who you’re going to put in that position,” Francine Maxwell said. “They will once again be your puppet.”
Another resident urged the board to prohibit the appointee from running for the office.
“Remove the taint from this board,” Ellen Ash said. “We don’t want three white men and a union hack to decide for District E.”
The board also voted to hold a special meeting in District E, which encompasses the clusters that feed into Lincoln, Morse and Crawford high schools and parts of the cluster feeding Hoover High School.
The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Feb. 17 at a location to be determined by the superintendent’s office later this week. All applicants will be allowed to address the board at that time.
A second special meeting was scheduled for Feb. 23 at the Eugene Brucker Education Center on Normal Street, in which the three finalists will be allowed more time to respond to interview questions by the board. The board will decide at the conclusion of that meeting who will be appointed.
Applicants must be at least 18 years old and a registered voter living in District E for at least 30 days, but not employed by the San Diego Unified School District.
Applications, which can be submitted online or in person, can also include letters of recommendation. The completed applications will be made public before the appointment so the public can see who applied and might be best qualified for the position.
Foster, 47, resigned last week after pleading guilty to receiving financial gifts over the legal limit. She admitted that a benefactor gave her son money toward a theater camp in 2014 and paid for his airline tickets.
By law, Foster could only accept a gift of $460 per year, said Deputy District Attorney Leon Schorr.
Her plea ended a long-running investigation into Foster’s dealings in office.
Foster was also accused of abusing her powers with her alleged involvement in a staff shakeup at the School for the Creative and Performing Arts; 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.
Foster was ultimately charged with just one misdemeanor count.
Superior Court Judge Lisa Rodriguez placed Foster on three years probation, ordered her to pay $3,487 in restitution and perform 120 hours of volunteer work. Foster is also barred from running for office for the next four years.
— City News Service