Will superintendent Ed Brand be the last cheese standing on the Sweetwater dais?
Former trustee Arlie Ricasa resigned from the Sweetwater board in December 2013, shortly before pleading guilty to a misdemeanor in relation to corruption charges.
Trustee Pearl Quiñones pleaded guilty to a felony and it is anticipated that she will be removed from the board after her April 28 sentencing.
Trustees Jim Cartmill and Bertha Lopez pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor April 26. Judge Ana España authorized them to continue to serve on the Sweetwater board. But a recent U-T article quotes Sweetwater spokesperson Manny Rubio as saying the district is consulting with legal counsel about the status of Cartmill and Lopez. Another U-T article on April 26 included calls for Cartmill and Lopez to step down.
Trustee John McCann is hoping to vacate the Sweetwater board. He is running for Chula Vista City Council in the June primary.
The County Board of Education is poised to step in; however, they have not scheduled a meeting yet to fill any seats. Lisa Contreras, spokesperson for the county board, said on April 28, “There are no additional vacancies on the [Sweetwater] board at this time [other than Ricasa].”
Contreras said the board has the ability to fill as many positions as necessary when the situation arises. “It is part of commitment of the county trustees when they are elected to serve on other boards in the event of a vacancy.”
But some Sweetwater community members are concerned that superintendent Ed Brand’s contract may be renewed while confusion swirls about who sits on the dais.
Board policy requires that a superintendent be evaluated every year — but Brand has not been evaluated since he was given a two-year contract in September 2012. Brand’s contract ends October 2014.
Maty Adato, parent to a Sweetwater student and longtime critic of Brand’s stewardship of the district, is worried that the superintendent’s contract may roll over automatically.
Adato maintains, “If the board does not exercise its right to nonrenew his contract, it will automatically renew for another year.” She says the cut-off date to exercise that right is June 15.
Adato refers to section 18.2 of the contract, which states: “The superintendent shall notify the Board in writing…a minimum of ninety (90) days prior to the expiration of this Agreement and of the fact that this Agreement will automatically renew for a term of one year under the same terms and conditions, and with the same compensation, unless the Board gives written notice of nonrenewal to the Superintendent in the manner described in paragraph 18.3….”
Section 18.3 reads: “Should the Board determine not to renew this Agreement beyond the 24th day of September 2014, the District shall provide the Superintendent with notification of its interest not to renew the Agreement in writing and delivered not later than forty-five (45) days prior to the termination date of this Agreement….”
Essentially Adato argues, if Brand submits a letter to renew and the board does not act, his contract will automatically renew.
Brand’s conflict-of-interest form shows a man with a well-diversified portfolio.
He has significant investments in real estate property and his Ed Brand & Associates, LLC, an education/property management business, is worth over $1,000,000, according to the form.
Brand has also begun to dabble in another field. His conflict-of-interest form shows he is a 5 percent owner of Alternative Ballistics. The fair market value of this corporation is listed as $100,001–$1,000,000. It is located at 101 Market Street in San Diego.
If Brand continues as superintendent, it appears Burt Grossman is still onboard with him. Grossman, who ran against Bertha Lopez in the 2012 election, gave Brand Charger tickets in October 2013 valued at $196.