Sweetwater board member asks colleagues to step down

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - If it goes as he expects, John McCann would be the lone survivor on what is supposed to be a five-person school board.

McCann recently called for his two remaining colleagues on the Sweetwater Union High School Board of Trustees -- Jim Cartmill and Bertha Lopez -- to step down.

Cartmill and Lopez entered guilty pleas last month in a bribery scandal that has affected several school districts.

However, as part of their plea agreement, a judge said that Cartmill and Lopez could maintain their seats on the board.

McCann argued that the Sweetwater Education Code requires board members to step down if they are convicted of a crime related to their position on the board.

"With the two last indicted board members admitting guilt, it is time for the Sweetwater School District to being healing and move forward," McCann said in a release. "This can only happen if these two board members resign their seats."

Cartmill and Lopez are not allowed to address the issue until a Wednesday hearing ends. That hearing was called after district attorneys argued the judge's decision to let the two maintain their seats was incorrect.

Parent Kim Cochran used to be really involved in school board meetings -- not anymore.

"It's really frustrating. There's such a lack of respect from the board to parents," said Cochran.

McCann told 10News, directly, "They should resign."

Additionally, McCann said district Superintendent Dr. Ed Brand's tenure should also be reviewed, but only after the board is fixed.

"That's the immediate issue," McCann said.

With two board members already gone, two more possibly on their way out and if McCann is a finalist in the June primary for a Chula Vista City Council seat, the Sweetwater board could be left without a single board member.

"Let's be careful what you wish for," said Cochran. "At this point, I don't know what's worse."

Cochran told 10News she is so fed up that she doesn't know if an empty board would be any worse than what is currently in place.

Cochran believes Cartmill and Lopez should "absolutely" resign.

If McCann is the last remaining member, the County Board of Education will offer assistance.

"At minimum, two board members to serve with me to shepherd Sweetwater District in the future," McCann said.

Pearl Quinones and Arlie Ricasa already stepped down from the board after entering guilty pleas earlier this year. Last week, Quinones was sentenced to 90 days of house arrest.

The board members were among 15 people indicted in 2012 in a probe into a "pay for play" culture between contractors and officials from three school districts.

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