One day after buying out departing superintendent Jesus Gandara’s contract, the Sweetwater Union High School District board chose Ed Brand to serve as interim superintendent, paying him $20,000 a month.
Brand served as Sweetwater’s superintendent for 11 years before leaving in 2005 to become superintendent of the San Marcos Unified School District. In a little over a year, the district bought out Brand’s contract for $397,884.53.
Brand’s claim to fame in Sweetwater was Compact for Success, which guarantees admission to San Diego State for students with a B average. From 2006 to 2010, the program transferred 1280 students.
About 6000 students graduate from Sweetwater Union’s schools each year, according to the California Department of Education's educational demographics office. Brand attempted to launch a similar program in San Marcos, but trustees were reluctant to fund a coordinator’s position for Partnership for Success.
In October 2006, following Brand’s departure, the North County Times reported, “He [Brand] is now working pro bono for Bill and Carol Stensrud of Poway as a lobbyist and coordinator for the Partnership for Success…”
A 2007 501(c)3 tax form shows that Brand and Barry Dragon (Sweetwater’s former chief financial officer) were officers in the newly founded Partnership for Success. Brand’s salary was $80,000.
In 2007, Partnership for Success gave $1500 to the Sweetwater Education Foundation. Scott Himelstein was a Sweetwater foundation director. According to a 2006 Union-Tribune story, another reason behind Brand’s sudden departure from San Marcos was that Brand ignored a district hiring committee’s recommendations and gave Himelstein’s wife a teaching contract.