Final Petition Approved to Oust Sweetwater Trustees

Petition to recall Sweetwater boardmember John McCann approved Tuesday

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCSanDiego
    The Sweetwater Union High School District is embroiled in controversy involving an alleged pay-to-play scheme.

    A recall petition for a third Sweetwater Union High School District trustee was approved Tuesday by the San Diego County Registrar of Voters.

    Three board members in the district are the subject of a recall effort, started by a group of parents and activists.

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    The effort to recall school board members in the South Bay is kicking off tonight. Rory Devine spoke to community activist Stewart Payne and Sweetwater Superintendent Ed Brand about the recall effort for current boardmembers in the district. (Published Monday, Apr 16, 2012)

    The petition for trustee John McCann, was certified by the County Registrar's Office on Tuesday, according to Elvira Vargas, Election Processing Supervisor with the County Registrar of Voters.

    The petition was not approved at the same time that petitions for trustees Jim Cartmill and Arlie Ricasa were approved due to a spelling error on the text of the petition.

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    [DGO] School Board Recall Elections a Step Closer
    Board member John McCann was served recall papers Tuesday night. He now must respond before the recall can be certified by the San Diego County Registrar. (Published Wednesday, Mar 21, 2012)

    The recall efforts were sparked by the December 2011 raids of several board members’ homes. Former boardmember Greg Sandoval and three current boardmembers -- Ricasa, Pearl Quinones and Bertha Lopez -- targeted in the raids have been charged in an alleged pay-to-play scheme. They have all pleaded not guilty to the charges.

    District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis called it the largest public corruption case the DA's office has ever prosecuted.

    School Board Member Abruptly Leaves

    [DGO] Sweetwater Board Member Leaves Before Important Vote
    John Brickley told NBC 7 education reporter Rory Devine that Sweetwater Unified School District John Mc Cann took off to avoid being served recall papers during a recess a recent school board meeting. McCann said he left for a family emergency. (Published Monday, Mar 19, 2012)

    Board members McCann and Cartmill are not charged in the case and their homes were not searched, but the committee that authored the petition accused them of contributing to a history of corruption in the school district.

    "[McCann and Cartmill] have been inattentive and dismissive of community members who have demanded they put a stop to the corruption," read a statement from the Committee to Recall Sweetwater Union High School District Trustees Cartmill, McCann, Ricasa 2012 -- "Occupy Sweetwater" for short.

    McCann issued a statement in response to the efforts in a April 16 story:

    "Since January a small group named Occupy Sweetwater has been set on wasting over a million dollars of taxpayer money for a special election by diverting it away from our children's education, while supporting candidates like Lopez whose home has been raided by the District Attorney. After being elected a little more than a year ago, I have led successful efforts to reform the district, increase test scores and balance the budget."

    The committee said its efforts to recall Ricasa stem from a long-held suspicion that "Ricasa and her fellow board members have not been responsible stewards of Proposition O monies, provided by the taxpayers."

    Board member Lopez, whose home was raided but who was never charged, and Quinones are not targets of the recall effort because they will be up for re-election on the November ballot.

    Organizers are hoping to have the issue on the November ballot to avoid a special election.

    Monday, Cartmill and Ricasa said they do not want to comment at this point, since the recall is just being launched. But in papers filed with the registrar's office, they have said this is politically motivated, by disgruntled former employees.

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