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School Trustee Marne Foster Pleads Guilty To Misdemeanor, Resigns

San Diego Unified School District board President Marne Foster appears in an undated photo.
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
School Trustee Marne Foster Pleads Guilty To Misdemeanor, Resigns GUEST:Michael McQuary, president, San Diego Unified School Board

San Diego trustee Marty Fester resigned her position yesterday after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor offense. She admitted receiving gifts in excess of the legal limit while on the board. Foster had been the subject of allegations for months including holding a benefit to raise money for his son's college tuition and abusing her power as a school trustee. What comes next for the leadership of San Diego's largest school district? Joining me is school Board President Dr. Michael McCrary. Welcome to the program. I'm happy to be here. You like to go by Dr. might. Dr. Mike works. Did Marnie Fosters resignation come as surprise? We knew there were things in the works. To the District Attorney's Office was taking a look at this at some of the activities and events. Legal counsel were looking at events. We were involved in an investigation when we got this attorney wanted to investigate further. We dropped our investigation and handed over our files and got behind their efforts and we are waiting for the results. Which I got at 1:44 PM yesterday with a letter from the trustee money foster -- Marnie Foster that her resignation would be effective February 7. Have you spoken to Marnie Foster? No I haven't. I did speak with her -- the board officers -- they set the agenda for each meeting. So we met late last night to talk about what is the next step for us. The next step was to file the resignation with the Department of Education which is a legal step then we need to make a decision as a board and to have that conversation about the issue and what we can learn and how did we get here and where do you want to go? As well as what is our -- are options for fulfilling that position. When was the last time you saw former trustee foster? I saw her at an audit committee meeting which is run by Dan McAllister. I was a new member so I was being introduced last week. She attended that meeting. We conducted the meeting and then she left and I left and we both went about our regular business. Dr. Mike, as you were saying, the school board has a lot of options when it comes to what the next step is. You don't necessarily have to appoint a trustee do you like Not appointing is one of the options. We can also follow the procedures that are outlined in the municipal code. And we can do something similar to what the city did to report -- replace -- Her seat was up for reelection this year right? That's correct. Without peace, it's another aspect we need to consider. We can do nothing, follow the municipal code, the code allows us to follow the state code. In terms of appointing a new trustee. Will discuss those at the board meeting on Tuesday, February 9. Do you expect to make a decision on that same date? The clock is ticking and so there are some timelines and our legal counsel is making sure the board is well-informed about our options as well as the timeline. I've been speaking with San Diego unified school President Michael McCrary. Thank you so much. Thank you.

School Trustee Marne Foster Pleads Guilty To Misdemeanor, Resigns
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."