Poway schools Superintendent John Collins. Image from video

A preliminary hearing is scheduled to begin Monday for ex-Poway Unified School District Superintendent John Collins, who is charged with misappropriating more than $345,000 in public funds, including putting in for vacation time already used.

Collins, 63, faces seven years in a local jail if convicted of four felony counts, said Deputy District Attorney Leon Schorr.

Deputy District Attorney Leon Schorr said his office started an investigation after getting complaints about Collins from community members.

Two of those community members, Kim and Chris Garnier, led a Facebook and online campaign to have Collins removed from his post. Both attended Rancho Bernardo High School, which is in the Poway Unified School District.

Chris Garnier called Collins a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Garnier said he at one time had a good relationship with Collins — when Collins was the principal at Rancho Bernardo High — but things turned sour when Garnier started to allege injustices against blacks and Latinos in the school district.

Victor Pippins, an attorney for Collins, expressed disappointment that the case has resulted in criminal charges, noting that Collins stands resolute in proclaiming his innocence.

Collins was fired in July 2016 after an audit found the alleged misappropriations.

At the time he was let go, Collins was the highest paid superintendent in San Diego County, with an annual salary of $308,900 and a total compensation package of more than $457,000.

Collins had financial problems, though, according to texts and documents.

The Poway Unified School District filed a civil lawsuit last year to recover lost money. That case is still pending.

— City News Service

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Chris Jennewein

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