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Four Finalists Selected In Search To Fill Marne Foster's School Board Seat

The seat where Marne Foster sat during San Diego Unified School Board meetings before resigning sits empty, Feb. 16, 2016.
Matthew Bowler
The seat where Marne Foster sat during San Diego Unified School Board meetings before resigning sits empty, Feb. 16, 2016.

Four finalists were selected Wednesday night in the search to select a successor to Marne Foster, who resigned from the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education.

The finalists are Brenda Campbell, LaShae Collins, Erica Dibello-Hitta and Sharon Whitehurst-Payne. They were selected from a group of 10 candidates who addressed the board for three minutes each.

Two ballots were taken at a special, two-hour meeting that was held at Herbert Ibarra Elementary School in City Heights, where dozens of District E residents turned out.


The board had previously voted to allow three candidates to move forward.

Campbell is a retired administrator for San Diego City Schools; Collins the district director for Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego; Dibello- Hitta, a native of Argentina who came to the U.S. as a sixth grader, teaches English as a second language to adults in the Sweetwater Union High School District; and Whitehurst-Payne is a retired teacher and administrator for the San Diego Unified School District.

Collins and Whitehurst-Payne are running for the seat in the June primary. Because the seat representing Southeast San Diego is up for election this year, board members opted against holding a special election to fill the position.

"It's time for us in Southeast San Diego to stop remediating our students," Whitehurst-Payne said. "Let them know there is a bigger world out there."

Campbell had a similar sentiment in her remarks to the board.


"The world continues to change and schools cannot stay the same if they are to prepare students for a global economy that uses technology ubiquitously," she said.

The final four will be allowed to speak again at a meeting on Feb. 23, when one of them is expected to be selected for the seat and sworn into office. That meeting will be held at the Eugene Brucker Auditorium on Normal Street. The finalists will be allowed more time to respond to interview questions by the board.

"It is our intention to have the best candidate serve as the interim board member and we will do everything we can to do that," said board President Michael McQuarry.

Foster resigned two weeks ago after pleading guilty to receiving financial gifts over the legal limit. She admitted that a benefactor gave her son money toward a theater camp in 2014 and paid for his airline tickets.