Eugene Brucker Education Center is headquarters of the San Diego Unified School District. Photo courtesy
The Eugene Brucker Education Center is headquarters of the San Diego Unified School District.

Two seats on the San Diego Unified School District’s Board of Trustees are being contested Tuesday, including one vacated after a scandal.

The District E seat is held by Sharon Whitehurst-Payne, who was appointed to fill the remainder of Marne Foster’s term earlier this year after Foster resigned and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of violating the Political Reform Act by accepting an excessive donation from a single donor.

District E includes southeast San Diego neighborhoods in the Lincoln High, Morse High and portions of the Crawford High areas.

Sharon Whitehurst-Payne

Whitehurst-Payne is being challenged for the seat by LaShae Collins, the district director for Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego. Collins also teaches at San Diego State University.

Collins said her priorities if elected to the board would include increasing parent and community engagement by improving school board transparency, coordinating community dialogue and holding open office hours.

She also plans on securing a Compact for Success program with SDSU so students who meet academic requirements get guaranteed admission.

Another priority for Collins would be providing diverse and culturally competent classes, seminars and apprenticeship programs that prepare students for higher education, graduation or direct success in the modern economy, should a student seek the trades instead of college.

“I am a native of District E and have been here my entire life,” Collins said. “I have children in the school system, so I understand the challenges families face.”

“I am from the community and spent my entire professional career giving back to the community,” she said. “My experience as an educator at San Diego State University, education policy expert for the California legislature, as well as my many volunteer rolls in the community have given me the skills, knowledge, and passion to fight for our students.”

Collins is endorsed by the San Diego County Democratic Party; California Charter Schools Association Advocates; Planned Parenthood Action Fund of the Pacific Southwest; Run Women Run; Assemblywoman Toni Atkins; Assemblywoman Shirley Weber; San Diego City Councilwoman Myrtle Cole and Councilman David Alvarez; and former state Sen. Christine Kehoe.

Whitehurst-Payne said she has spent 44 years supporting students and teachers in the San Diego Unified School District in various capacities, from professional educator to volunteer.

“I have worked to improve education with my expertise, resources, and support. I am well prepared to serve as a member of the Board of Education,” she said in a statement on her district web page.

“San Diego Unified has helped me to be the individual and professional I am today, and I owe the benefit of my expertise to help both educators and students to reach their maximum potential,” the statement said.

Whitehurst-Payne is endorsed by Bishop Roy Dixon, Bishop George D. McKinney, Elder John Powell, Rev. Dr. Eugenio Raphael, Rev. Marshall Sharp, and Rev. George Walker Smith, according to her campaign website.

District A incumbent board member John Lee Evans, a psychologist and former teacher, is running for a third term on the board to represent the areas that include Clairemont and Mira Mesa. His only challenger is Stephan Groce, financial assets manager and member of the Clairemont Town Council.

Board member Richard Barrera, a labor union leader, is running unopposed for a third term to represent District D covering south and central San Diego.

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.