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School Board Member Calls for Resignation of San Ysidro’s Interim Superintendent

November 1, 2017

By Eduardo Rueda / Investigative Reporter

One of the members of San Ysidro’s school board has called for the resignation of their top administrator, accusing him of having illegally taken money from the District.

“As a member of San Ysidro School Board of Trustees, I’m calling for the immediate resignation of Interim Superintendent Arturo Sanchez-Macias and the return of monies, after I have discovered Macias conspired with former Superintendent Julio Fonseca in an illegal scheme where they both cashed out excessive vacation days and illegally took District money in exchange for life term insurance policies,” Linares wrote in a press release early Wednesday morning.

Sanchez-Macias became Interim Superintendent after Julio Fonseca abruptly resigned on September 2 when a female employee filed a harassment complaint against him. Fonseca and the employee, Alexis Rodriguez, had been dating while she worked at the District, but she later complained that Fonseca harassed her after they ended their relationship.

Board member Linares is charging that Fonseca and Macias engaged in a scheme to enrich themselves by working together to each cash out more vacation days than they were entitled to, and that they both illegally took hundreds of thousands of dollars instead of a life insurance policy offered in their contracts. The Board never voted to approve those expenditures.

“We were manipulated by our most trusted administrators who used their positions of authority to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from our students,” Linares said. “With the information I have put together, I now have to be the whistleblower on the illegal actions of both Julio Fonseca and Arturo Sanchez-Macias.”

Sanchez-Macias previously served as Chief Operating Officer, then as Deputy Superintendent, under Fonseca. In both roles, Sanchez-Macias had total control over the finances of the small District.

Linares also claims Sanchez-Macias failed to alert the Board of Fonseca’s illegal withdrawals, and even participated in them himself.

“Macias failed in his fiduciary duty to the District when he assisted Fonseca in processing the illegal claims for money,” Linares said. “Macias, as the Chief Operating Officer, then as Deputy Superintendent, failed to alert the Board of Fonseca’s illegal actions, and also participated in the illegal cash draws himself,” Linares said.

Linares claims he has raised his concerns with other Board members both in private and at Board meeting, but he says no corrective actions were taken.

“For months, I have warned the school board in closed sessions, and I have tried to raise these issues during my comments at board meetings, but I have been ignored, silenced, and ridiculed by the majority that controls our school board,” Linares claimed. “Enough is enough. Board members in the majority have delegated their authority to administrators and have failed to hold them accountable for mismanagement and misuse of taxpayer funds. Either you stand against these illegal acts, or you are complicit in them,” Linares added.

Linares has criticized fellow Board members since December 2016, when a shift in allegiances occurred among the Board. Linares points to Board member Antonio Martinez as the instigator in the friction.

During the November 2016 elections, former Board member Steven Kinney lost his seat when Irene Lopez was elected. Kinney had been endorsed by the teachers’ union, but Martinez supported Lopez in hopes of controlling a majority on the Board.

Linares claims that, within days of the election where Lopez won, but before she had even been sworn-in to serve on the Board, Martinez informed him that the next Board president would be board Member Rosaleah Pallasigue, a relatively new Board member. Under the traditional process of rotating the board presidency, Linares was due to preside over the Board for the following year.

“Mr. Martinez told me during a phone call that he had ‘given it’ to Pallasigue, and told me I would not be the next Board President,” Linares said. “The only way he could say that would be if he, Pallasigue, and Lopez had already discussed it, and that would be a violation of California’s open meetings law,” Linares claimed.

At the next Board meeting, in December 2016, Martinez nominated Pallasigue for Board President and both he and Lopez voted for her, and Lopez became the Board’s Vice-President. Pallasigue continues to serve as Board President and Lopez is expected to take over the role next month.

Under the state’s Brown Act, a majority of members of a public agency cannot communicate outside of a public meeting about upcoming decisions. The law is intended to ensure that decisions are made with prior notice to the public and voted in an open meeting. Any action discussed illegally outside of a public meeting must be rescinded under the Brown Act rules.

“Since December 2016, the Board majority and the Administration of Julio Fonseca, kept me in the dark between Board meetings, ignored my request for documents, and worked to limit my ability to represent the community,” Linares claimed. “It was their indifference that allowed Fonseca and Sanchez-Macias to operate like they did and to steal money from our students,” Linares added.

Board member Antonio Martinez is currently running a campaign for the seat on the San Diego City Council being vacated by Councilman David Alvarez. The council seat covers the areas of San Ysidro, Barrio Logan, and Logan Heights. Linares blames that campaign for the friction on the school board. That election will be June 2018.

“Since Martinez began that political campaign, he has maneuvered everything on the Board for his political benefit,” Linares charges. “Martinez has ignored the real problems at the District and only focused on leveraging his relationships to help him get elected to the City Council,” Linares added.

Linares challenged Martinez to work with him to address the problems at the District.

“Mr. Martinez just ran for re-election last year for a four-year term on our school board,” Linares said. “If he was serious about fixing our schools, he would agree to stay for his entire term and not be looking to leave early to get elected to City Council and leave these issues for us to deal with without him,” Linares added.

Mr. Linares will hold a press conference in front of the District’s offices today to call for the resignation of Sanchez-Macias.

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