Breaking: Lawsuit against San Diego Unified alleges vote trading by Board President Evans
Longtime educator tells Rostra “It’s their choice” whether the district sees her in court. “I want my job back.”
In a lawsuit filed yesterday against the San Diego Unified School District, Board President John Lee Evans is alleged to have struck a deal to gain the teachers union endorsement and campaign contributions in exchange for the demotion of a district area superintendent.
The suit, filed in San Diego Superior Court on behalf of Dr. Brenda Campbell, alleges she was wrongfully demoted without cause and a violation of her constitutional rights of due process, citing a school board action of one month ago. It further states that Evans’ vote on the matter was a result of a “quid pro quo” arrangement with the union to gain support for his current reelection effort.
The complaint notes that Dr. Campbell, a 38-year employee of the district, was demoted by the school board on September 4, 2012, on the recommendation of Superintendent Bill Kowba, allegedly due to pressure from the San Diego Education Association (SDEA). The suit further alleges that in response to six detailed complaints against her, “Dr. Campbell was given less than a week to respond” prior to the board decision.
The document further states that Dr. Campbell provided a detailed rebuttal to the complaints against her, noting that the “written response was so detailed, it would have taken … several hours to read and digest the evidence submitted … However, the Board voted after only 45 minutes to approve” the demotion. Board Trustee Scott Barnett is also alleged to have admitted to voting “in favor of the demotion solely to show his support for Kowba…”
The allegations against Board President Evans are partly based on what the lawsuit cites as a discussion between SDEA President Bill Freeman and him:
“John Lee Evan’s (sic) decision to demote Dr. Campbell was even more sinister. Recent evidence has come to light, through overheard, public conversations between Evans and Freeman, that Evans voted in favor of the demotion in furtherance of a quid pro quo deal, whereby Evans would obtain the Teachers Union’s endorsement and even monetary campaign contributions.”
Attached to the complaint “are two reports prepared by a group of teachers (and members of the Teachers Union), recounting a recent meeting, at which, ‘Freeman openly bragged that he had been called up by Evans the day before and how they chatted about Evans voting to get rid of Brenda Campbell, implicitly in exchange for SDEA’s endorsement.’ The teachers’ report also states, referring to Evans, that ‘SDEA has endorsed him, and the SDEA Board voted last week to give him $15,000 for his reelection campaign.’”
“I’ve dedicated 38 years of my life to this District,” Campbell told Rostra, “so I have strong feelings about being treated this way. But, it’s not about me; it’s not about the teacher’s union, about Mr. Evans, etc. It’s about the children who deserve a better education than that being offered. I don’t want to sue the District. I want my job back. I did nothing wrong. If they want to admit that and give me my job back, I’ll dismiss. If not, I’ll see them in court. It’s their choice.”
Evans is facing a reelection challenge from Mark Powell, who provided the complaint document to SD Rostra along with a press release. “I believe it is time for John Evans to resign from the School Board and withdraw from the campaign,” Powell said. “He continues to make bad decisions and demonstrate poor leadership by proposing to reduce the school year to one of the shortest in the world; selling district land below market value; approving high interest bonds that our grandchildren will have to pay for; and acting fiscally irresponsible.”
Rostra has sent a message to Evans requesting a comment via his campaign website, which does not appear to list a phone number. Rostra has also reached out to Barnett and some others noted above for comments. Trustee Barnett responded that he cannot comment on a matter involving litigation, which is likely also the case for other district officials.
KUSI also ran a story about the lawsuit within the last hour.
UPDATE 5:30 pm: School Board President John Lee Evans has responded.