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Sweetwater votes to lay off more than 220 educators, superintendent placed on leave amid budget crisis

Sweetwater Union High School District
Posted at 8:52 PM, Jun 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-25 08:56:33-04

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) -- The Sweetwater Union High School District Board voted Wednesday to cut more than 220 educators and place its beleaguered superintendent on paid leave.

Staff cuts include educators and all librarians. In all, the board voted to eliminate 223 employees in hopes of balancing its budget.

The board cited a decline in enrollment for the cuts, but said if enrollment goes up, librarians would be the first to return.

RELATED: Sweetwater Union High School District votes to cut over 200 jobs

The vote ratifies an earlier referendum in which the board voted to lay off nearly 240 employees and staff members in February.

The district's planned cuts to jobs and programs had been widely panned by staff and the public, with many calling on officials to consider salary cuts instead. During February's board meeting, one teacher told the board that their proposal would "kill this community and hurt our kids."

Several staff were supposed have received pink slips in March but the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing campus shutdowns temporarily staved off layoffs.

The board also voted 4-1 Wednesday night to place SUHSD superintendent Dr. Karen Janney on paid administrative leave.

RELATED: SUHSD: 90 bus drivers paid over $950K in overtime during 2017, database says

Janney had been under public pressure to step down following a multi-million dollar shortfall at the district which prompted an investigation into possible misappropriation of funds.

Janney took over the district's superintendent office in June 2015. Three years later, the district self-reported it had fallen into a $30 million budget deficit. Since then, teachers have been cut, bus routes were eliminated, and class sizes have increased.

On Monday, an audit from the state's Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) released a 79-page report saying there is enough evidence that fraud or misappropriation of funds may have occurred within the SUHSD dating back to 2018.

Previously, Janney served 31 years in the SUHSD in various roles, including principal and assistant superintendent. She earned her doctorate degree in education from San Diego State University in 2010, according to her professional online profile. During her time as superintendent, Janney earned over $1.1 million in pay and benefits, according to public pay database Transparent California.

The board said its action against Janney is not disciplinary but it is to support and ensure efficient investigation of the concerns raised in the FCMAT report.

Dr. Moises Aguirre will serve as acting superintendent.


-- Sweetwater Union High School District votes to cut over 200 jobs

-- State fiscal team reviews Sweetwater Union High School District's finances

-- District approves interim budget with $26 million shortfall

-- Report: Sweetwater Union High School District incorrectly reported debt