Sweetwater Union High School District is being faced with a hostile takeover effort by Bertha Lopez, a Chula Vista Elementary Board member and, in that capacity, a fan of lawyer Daniel Shinoff of Stutz, Artiano Shinoff & Holtz, who litigated the Mary Anne Weegar case (below). Bertha has spent $100,000s on Shinoff's firm to cover up wrongdoing at CVESD, and it appears that she can be counted on to do the same at SUHSD. Sweetwater would do well to keep current trustee Jaime Mercado, and let Bertha continue her work with the cynical incumbents at CVESD.
From the SAVE SWEETWATER website
$678,000 Worth of Wrongful Termination
Mary Anne Weegar was the head of categorical programs for the Sweetwater Union High School District until 1999. Categorical programs are programs and money allocated for specific educational purposes by both the state and federal governments. Sweetwater received over $2.5 million in categorical aid from the Federal government and over $4.5 million from the state of California in fiscal year 2001. There are stringent requirements on how categorical money can be used and Weegar attempted to see that the money was spent properly. This was not appreciated by those above her and her authority as watchdog over categorical spending was slowly eroded. A computer whiz student aide who helped Weegar with her computers noticed a form in the Superintendent’s part of the computer network called “Reacquiring of categorical funds” When it was discovered that someone had accessed this part of the network, Weegar was locked out of her office, forced to retire,and the young computer whiz was accosted in the parking lot by a well known Sweetwater sociopath and threatened with denial of graduation. The young man’s father was a cop and soon straightened that out, but Weegar was out of a job and soon filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the District.
The main witnesses called from the district were Superintendent Ed Brand and Chief Financial Officer Barry Dragon. Dragon was formerly with Arthur Anderson and when he was asked recently by a concerned citizen what the Superintendent’s annual salary was, ($200,000), since no one else at the District Office knew, he reacted as if the concerned citizen had threatened to crash a plane into the District Office. When reminded that he and the Superintendent were public servants and that their salaries were from public funds, his venom and hostility subsided and he belatedly divulged the evidently little known fact that Brand (at $200,000 per year) makes more than the Governor of California ($175,000 per year).
When Brand testified, he stated that he had a vast and thorough knowledge of all of Sweetwater’s policies and regulations, but when asked which policy gave him the authority to lock Weegar out of her office, he sat slack-jawed and speechless for over a minute and never could come up with any legal justification for locking out the 30 year veteran employee.