Sweetwater HS District
(L-R) Gregory Sandoval, Pearl Quinones, Jesus Gandara and Arlie Ricasa have all plead not guilty.
The board of the Sweetwater Union High School District will face the public for the first time on Monday night since current and former school officials were charged in an alleged pay-to-play scheme.
A packed house is expected -- with people in the community having a lot to say about how their school district is being run.
Three members will vote on whether or not the district should pay their legal bills, two of which are charged in the corruption case.
In December 2011, the homes of current and a former school board members were raided after the San Diego District Attorney’s office said they accepted gifts from contractors and then awarded them lucrative contracts.
The current and former school board members Gregory Sandoval, Pearl Quinones, Arlie Ricassa and Jesus Gandara have plead not guilty.
Quinones and Ricassa are asking for $400,000 to cover legal fees. Bertha Lopez, whose home was raided but was never charged, is asking for $100,000.
The board will also vote on whether to pay $400,000 in legal fees for former board member Greg Sandoval.
The reason the district is considering covering the expenses is because board members can be indemnified in certain circumstances.
“If the district chooses to pay legal fees, they have to make specific findings,” said legal expert Michelle Hagan. “One that the activity alleged is within the scope of their duties as a board member, two that it's in the apparent interest of the district.”
Each board member will leave the room as her specific case comes up for a vote – but many are saying that is a conflict of interest.
Jim McCann, a current member of the school board, put out a robocall urging people to show up in support of voting no. McCann has already vocalized he does not support the legal fees.
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