Former Superintendent Karen Janney, front row right, along with board members and a student board member in the Sweetwater Union High School District. Photo via district

The superintendent of the Sweetwater Union High School District was ousted by the school board Monday, two months after being put on paid leave following the release of a state audit that found significant evidence of financial wrong-doing by district employees.

Karen Janney, a retired Sweetwater administrator hired in 2015 to lead the state’s largest secondary school out of a series of corruption scandals, was terminated by a 4-1 vote of the governing board during a closed session meeting Monday, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

During Janney’s tenure the district faced an unexpected $30 million shortfall, leading to massive cuts to facilities and services to make ends meet – and putting the district on the verge of bankruptcy.

In 2018, the state’s Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team stepped in to audit the district’s finances. The audit reported there was significant evidence of fraud, and that those in charge of district money had covered up budget problems to deceive trustees, and gain favorable bond market ratings and other financial advantages. It has been handed over to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office for review.

When Janney took over Sweetwater five years ago, the district was coming out of a pay-to-play corruption scandal that resulted in then-Superintendent Jesus Gandara receiving a jail term and the entire school board getting the boot. Janney was hired to restore trust and worked to get the district in order.

According to the Union-Tribune article, Sweetwater released a short statement Tuesday that said: “On behalf of the entire Sweetwater community, we want to thank Dr. Janney for her many years of service and dedication to the district, its board and our students.”

Moise Aguirre, the district’s assistant superintendent of facilities and maintenance, is serving as interim superintendent.

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