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Guilty board members suspended Robert Moreno | Sat, May 17 2014 12:00 PM

Sweetwater Union High School District board President Jim Cartmill and trustee Bertha Lopez are both suspended from their positions after a San Diego Superior Court judge rescinded her previous finding that let both officials finish their term when they pleaded guilty to misdemeanor corruption charges April 24.

An attorney for the district sought clarification from Judge Ana Espana about how the two guilty board members could continue their roles in policy- and decision-making if government code 1770.2 prevents them from serving office after a guilty plea.

California government code 1770.2 states: “…the person found guilty shall not assume the office for which the person is otherwise qualified or shall be suspended immediately from the office the person then holds.”
Espana reversed her ruling after she learned of 1770.2.

She said in a previous hearing it was the first time she had heard about the government code.
Espana ruled Tuesday that she does not have the legal right to decide whether both board members can remain on the board or force them to resign.

“The law does not give this court the authority to order the removal of the defendants from office under these circumstances, nor does the law give the court the authority to order that they remain in office,” Espana said.
That decision was left up to the school district to decide the fate of Lopez and Cartmill; an attorney for the district said the pair are suspended and had been suspended at the time of their guilty plea.

“They are still on the board, they’re suspended,” said Randy Winet, an attorney for the district.

The lone remaining board member, trustee John McCann, said in an email that Cartmill and Lopez should resign.

“I have been fighting for ethics, transparency and our students at the district since being elected,” he said. “I challenged and replaced former board member Greg Sandoval and terminated the former superintendent, Jesus Gandara, who both recently pleaded guilty to felonies.”

“I urge Lopez and Cartmill to see beyond their positions and resign their seats on the board.”

Winet said if Cartmill or Lopez were to withdrawal their pleas, then they will not be suspended.

“There is actually a provision under 1770.2 that says if they withdraw their pleas, their suspension is withdrawn,” he said.

Attorney Jill Cremeans, who represents Lopez, said they are “still considering all of our options” and hasn’t ruled out  withdrawing Lopez’s guilty plea.

Cartmill could not be reached for comment. His attorney, Thomas Warwick, would not comment.

Creameans said Lopez wants to remain a board member.

“She does want to stay on the board, she takes her job seriously and wants to help the community,” she said about Lopez.

Winet said the district is working on getting a court to issue an order allowing the president of San Diego County schools to provisionally appoint members from the County Office of Education to sit temporarily on the Sweetwater board, so that the district can still be governed.

It is unclear whether the May 19 school board meeting will take place as scheduled.

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anniej Says:

Tue, May 20 2014 09:26 PM

I will take one to Board meeting next Wednesday night. Many know who I am, I will even bring 1 to you

ChulaVistaNEEDSme! Says:

Tue, May 20 2014 04:39 PM

Where can i get a NO McCANT sign?

anniej Says:

Tue, May 20 2014 02:28 PM

Hopefully you and others will attend the Board Meeting and articulate our concerns that our tax dollars seem to be going EVERYWHERE but in the CLASSROOM and we are of the VOTING opinion that it has to stop until the newly ELECTED Board is seated.

anniej Says:

Tue, May 20 2014 07:02 AM

Mayor Cox and other local Mayors had scheduled a community forum for next Wednesday - its purpose to discuss education. So, what does Ed Brand and John McCann do - they reschedule this upcoming Mondays Board meeting to Wednesday. Don't you just love the games these two are playing? It is apparent Brand and Mc Cann will stoop to ANYTHING to inhibit open dialogue and transparency.

And John McCann wants to know why Chula Vista is being blanketed with NO MCCANN SIGNS- might those signs reflect dissatisfaction with his lack of leadership, lack of fiscal responsibility? A new picture is being circulating of McCann which allegedly shows him using his cell phone to take a pic, of some taxpayers putting out the signs, while operating a motor vehicle. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't there a law in effect regarding that? Wasn't it endorsed as a means of protecting the public?

BBQ Says:

Tue, May 20 2014 06:16 AM

After reading the posts I too have to remind the public that the Superintendent is an employee of the District, as such it should always be included in a photo's caption, "District Employee" Ed Brand.
As for McCann "Fighting" for something if his actions are his definition of "Fighting", I see a couple of three year olds with their elbows at their sides slapping and pushing each other, catterwalling until Mama comes out and then they point at each other and say "He started it..."
Lets push the County appointed Trustees to only allow funding to opperate the district, pay the bills so to speak, vote in a new board in November, then finish uop cleaning the offices of SUHSD.
BBQ, Citizens Active for Value in Education.

knowthetruth Says:

Mon, May 19 2014 08:19 PM

Lost my protection? I am protected by the union from people in this district. What I'm not protected by are the numerous parent complaints submitted to the district, as well as outside attorneys who will go after me for libel and slander.

anniej Says:

Mon, May 19 2014 07:42 PM

Neylon, Hartley, Jones and Anderson will join John McCann at the dais.

Erupting Says:

Sun, May 18 2014 04:34 PM

Knowthetruth I agree with you. For Bertha to lose her position because of anFPPC charge is crazy. A fine is the usual treatment she deserves a fine not a misdemeanor. Remember Arlie had a $2,000 fine from the FPPC. The mayor of LA not to mention Bonnie Dumanis. My heart goes out to you because you and others have lost your protection. I would like to know why the County Office of Ed did not have an attorney representing them. What's up?

knowthetruth Says:

Sun, May 18 2014 09:36 AM

If Lopez leaves, the chances my current colleague and I getting in trouble for making a false harassment claim about an employee to the board will go up! This cannot happen! Please keep her on the board. She is our leader!

anniej Says:

Sun, May 18 2014 09:26 AM

And there they stand - the puppeteer Ed Brand and his little puppet John McCann. For some strange reason I was of the understanding that Ed Brand is John McCann's employee and therefore ours. This picture depicts the truth of McCann's role - subservient.

My fellow neighbors, are you not concerned about the LARGE amounts of monies Brand and McCann are paying these attorneys? Why were they not in court over Ricasa and Quinones - why now? Might the ulterior motive be Brand's contract - then there is the property he wants to purchase for a new District office.

We still have not seen the true numbers regarding the budget. Remember they issued the numbers prior to negotiating the new benefits and pay raises (and those increases are retroactive going back to January). Now Brand and his spokespersons will tell you the numbers do reflect the increases - but, how can that be since the final negotiations came long after these numbers were made public.

One question I have is WHY the County Board of Ed did NOT send an attorney to Court on Friday? Have Brand and Ward worked something out where Brand and McCann will name the new appointees? Let's face it Brand wants 4 more puppets up there, then his day will be made.

Folks, the clock is ticking Brand has got to go!!!!

Oddfool Says:

Sat, May 17 2014 11:22 PM

"I have been fighting for ethics, transparency and our students at the district since being elected,"he said. "I challenged and replaced former board member Greg Sandoval and terminated the former superintendent, Jesus Gandara, who both recently pleaded guilty to felonies."

Sandoval did not choose to run for re-election, so McCann could not challenge him, and McCann let Gandara resign after using vacation time to extend his stay into a pension illegally. McCann withheld a lawyer opinion from other board members and public that said Gandara could be terminated with cause.

Fighting for Ethics and transparency?

sosocal Says:

Sat, May 17 2014 10:01 PM

I do love the photo that is running under the headline! Of course, the headline refers to Jim Cartmill and Bertha Lopez, but...there remains much to be discovered regarding the workings of Ed Brand and his board members. Fast Eddy, who will always strive to make a deal. Just out of curiosity, what are the details of all the new solar panels? How many schools have them? How many will be getting them? Does anyone remember hearing about those deals in school board meetings?

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