SDUSD beefs up ethics, accountability policies

Posted at 6:10 PM, Mar 08, 2016

SAN DIEGO - The San Diego Unified School District's Board of Trustees wants to put more teeth in its ethics and accountability policies.

The policy enhancements come in the wake of the resignation of board president Marne Foster, who pleaded guilty to violating the Political Reform Act last month.

Foster's tenure with the school board was packed with scandal and accusations that she threw her weight around to get district employees to do things her way.

Team 10 first broke the story more than a year agoafter spotting a vehicle parked outside the school board offices plastered with signs about Foster.

Late last year, both the San Diego County District Attorney's Office and the school board launched investigations into misconduct involving Foster.

"It is now time to move forward with a clear policy for board members that is open and transparent to the public," school trustee John Lee Evans told reporters Tuesday.

Evans and board trustee Richard Barrera created the strict new standards for board member conduct, which they hope will keep the district out of the embarrassing spotlight that shined on Foster.

"We need to address any perception, especially by staff, that a board member is exerting undue influence," said Evans, who laid out a four-point plan to increase transparency while safeguarding against unethical behavior:

1. Any attempts by a Board Member to interfere in the operation of the School District shall be reported to the full Board by the Superintendent. If the misbehavior recurs, the Superintendent will report on the situation in an open, public meeting.

2. All District employees will now have access to a reporting mechanism, so as to bring any perceived interference by a Board Member to the attention of the Superintendent.

3. Ethics training for all Board Members shall occur within 60 days of their election to their seats.

4. Within 60 days of the election of a new Board Member, who is also the parent or guardian of a student in the District, the Superintendent and staff of that school shall meet with the Member and draw a clear line between their interactions as a parent and their interactions as a trustee.

"We must hold ourselves to a higher standard," said Evans.