On June 20, about 400 people packed Southwest High School’s gymnasium for a Sweetwater Union High School board meeting. Several hundred people packed the meeting, many wearing “Stop Corruption” buttons.
Community member Kathleen Cheers set the tenor for public comments when she asked the board: “Who goes to Hooters on a district credit card?” Cheers was referring to superintendent Jesus Gandara’s credit card, which was canceled by board president John McCann in April.
The most heated moment of the meeting came when McCann yelled at speaker Martin Casas, “You and your people have attacked me, my military record, and other veterans.”
Casas, a teacher in the district, said he was unclear what McCann meant by “you and your people.”
Background to the conflict comes from a letter sent to the Fair Political Practices Commission by retired educator Fran Brinkman. In the letter, Brinkman asserts that the district has promoted McCann’s political aspirations by arranging for him “to present a speech regarding his military service on at least twelve opportunities” and “produced at the public expense a full color biographical insert regarding Mr. McCann which was distributed with graduation ceremony programs.” It’s rumored that McCann is interested in returning to the Chula Vista City Council.
At 7:00 p.m. the board went into closed session. At 2:00 a.m., McCann announced that the board had unanimously approved a separation agreement with Gandara. It will cost the district $500,000 to buy out the next 18 months of Gandara’s contract.