Monday, July 01, 2013

Sweetwater/Alliant deal tinged with cronyism

Movement on Alliant partnership includes pizza party; no public records
By Susan Luzzaro
San Diego Reader
June 29, 2013

Does Sweetwater Union High School District superintendent Ed Brand have something to hide regarding the memorandum of understanding between Alliant International University and the district?

Why else would he have stonewalled public record requests to see the memorandum from community advocate Maty Adato since May 16 and the San Diego Reader since April 23? Both requests asked to see the memorandum of understanding between Alliant and Sweetwater, among other things.

A letter composed and signed by Brand was sent to Adato and the Reader, saying that the requested information would be ready on June 28. The day came and no records were produced, and emails and phone calls to the clerk of the board were not returned.

The district’s deal with Alliant is tinged with cronyism.

Brand obtained his degree from United States International University (USIU) in 1983. One of Brand’s good buddies is former Sweetwater coach Gary Zarecky. Zarecky left Sweetwater to become the men’s basketball coach and assistant athletic director at USIU/Alliant in 1985. He remained a

Brand brought Zarecky down in 2011 and gave him a $35,000 contract to work on his Funds for Education Committee. The committee, which was going to squeeze funds out of district vendors, was disbanded.

Observers have speculated that Zarecky, who currently coaches at DeAnza College, will play a part in the partnership with an Alliant sports program or with the new breakaway California Interscholastic (CIF) section that the U-T wrote about in May.

When the Alliant memorandum of understanding was brought before the Sweetwater trustees in May, board member Bertha Lopez questioned various clauses in the agreement. She read aloud a section that sounded more like a musing than an MOU: “Will Alliant or Sweetwater manage and control an athletic program? Will Alliant fund it or will Sweetwater fund it? Will they [Alliant] allow admission to CIF Section ll?”

Another longtime friend of Brand’s, Sweetwater economics teacher Tom Hassey, held a pizza party June 27. Hassey bought pizza for students and former students while representatives from Alliant were in attendance, presumably so they could answer potential students’ questions.

Hassey and Brand attempted to start a bank together in 2008.

According to the Alliant International website, the annual tuition for the not-for-profit university is $16,350. Brand told trustees at a May 13 board meeting that the Sweetwater/Alliant program will be open to students with a 2.0 grade-point average and that various tuition benefits will be conferred to Sweetwater students or graduates. He also advised that students who established need could apply for federal assistance (FAFSA) loans.

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