Although no meeting notice has been posted on the Sweetwater Union High School District website, several reliable South Bay community members are passing around the information that the Sweetwater board will hold a special meeting September 6. The purpose of the meeting is purportedly to begin the process of offering interim superintendent Ed Brand a contract.
Brand has been serving on the board on a temporary basis since last June, when ex-superintendent Jesus Gandara was given a juicy severance package. (Gandara is currently under indictment for several charges involving corruption at Sweetwater.) Brand has been receiving $20,000 a month and five weeks’ paid vacation as an independent contractor.
According to a June 29 Union-Tribune article, last year, “Brand took home $240,000 in pay on top of $118,080 in pension. Under the new [state] rules, retirees in the California State Teachers’ Retirement System who choose to go back to work [for] an employer in the system will now be limited to $31,020 in earnings per fiscal year — whether they are on staff or, like Brand, a consultant doing the work of a staff person.”
Though Brand has been interim superintendent for just over a year, his tenure has been marked by conflict. The most recent conflict came with his “open boundaries program,” which parents believe is negatively impacting their children’s education.
Under the program, students can attend any school within the district, regardless of where they live. Parents who live on the east side of Chula Vista report that this program, which was introduced at the beginning of this academic year, resulted in overcrowding, delays in students receiving textbooks, and traffic problems.
Parents were disappointed when Brand backed out of a meeting planned for August 30 and instead posted his explanation about open boundaries on the district’s website. Another meeting has been scheduled for the second week of September.
If the board calls a special meeting on September 6, they are required to post the agenda on the district website 24 hours in advance.