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School Trustee Marne Foster Pleads Guilty To Misdemeanor, Resigns

Photo caption: San Diego Unified School District board President Marne Foster appears in an ...

Photo credit: 10 News

San Diego Unified School District board President Marne Foster appears in an undated photo.

School Trustee Marne Foster Pleads Guilty To Misdemeanor, Resigns

GUEST:

Michael McQuary, president, San Diego Unified School Board

Transcript

Her resignation from the San Diego Unified School District board is effective Feb. 7. She pleaded guilty Tuesday to a misdemeanor charge of receiving gifts in excess of the legal limit of $460.

San Diego Unified School District trustee Marne Foster has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of receiving gifts in excess of the legal limit of $460 and has agreed to resign her position.

A benefactor gave Foster's youngest son money to go to a theater camp in 2014 and paid for his airline tickets, according to the plea agreement. The district launched an independent investigation of her in September amid allegations she had abused her power as a school trustee.

In a two-sentence letter to the school district, Foster said her resignation will be effective, Feb. 7.

"I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve the students of San Diego and their families," Foster said in the letter.

Steve Walker, spokesman for the District Attorney's Office, issued the following statement:

“Our thorough investigation and careful review of the evidence led us to an appropriate resolution of this public integrity case. Ms. Foster’s resignation, guilty plea, and cooperation in this settlement allows San Diego Unified to move forward and concentrate on their number one task of educating students. The DA’s Office appreciates the cooperation of the San Diego Unified School District.”

The San Diego Unified School District also issued a statement, saying Foster's resignation would be filed this afternoon with the County Office of Education as required.

"We were informed by the District Attorney’s office that her resignation was a term of the plea agreement made today," the statement said. "In the coming weeks, the Board will evaluate the process to be used to fill the vacancy caused by her resignation.”

The online news website Voice of San Diego has been chronicling the issues surrounding the school trustee and possible misuse of her office.

Foster, 47, was accused of abusing her powers with her alleged involvement in a staff shakeup at the School for the Creative and Performing Arts; being secretly behind a $250,000 claim against the district filed by her son's father that accused the school of sabotaging the youngster's college plans; and holding a fundraiser to cover her son's college expenses.

Foster was ultimately charged with just one misdemeanor count.

"We took into consideration everything that we had, and took into consideration the standard that we have in order to prove a crime and what would be a proper resolution in getting the district back to functioning on its number one goal, which is educating students versus having to deal with the long, drawn-out criminal proceedings," Deputy District Attorney Leon Schorr told reporters outside court.

Superior Court Judge Lisa Rodriguez placed Foster on three years' probation, ordered her to pay $3,487 in restitution and perform 120 hours of volunteer work. Foster is also barred from running for office for the next four years.

Foster was not at the court hearing, where she was represented by her attorney, Adam Gordon.

"Marne is with her family right now," Gordon said. "She obviously wanted to take accountability for what she did. She wants to put this behind her and allow both the school district and the community to focus on the children."

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