The Legal Cost of San Diego Unified Supt. Cindy Marten Blunders and Cover-Ups: Almost $14 MILLION…and Counting!


, , , , , , , ,


The hiring of SDUSD Superintendent Cindy Marten and her continued legacy of poor management and blundering oversight has been a Legal Expense JACKPOT for certain SDUSD Employees and Legal Service Contractors and a Legal Expense DISASTER for all San Diego Unified Stakeholders and Taxpayers.

How MUCH of a Financial Disaster?

Almost $14 MILLION…and Counting!!!

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the SDUSD currently has a $117 MILLION* DOLLAR DEFICIT for the 2017/2018 school year.

That budget does NOT cover the unanticipated lawsuits and court actions (like the disgraced Trustee Marne Foster coverup) brought on by the poor management of the incompetent SDUSD Supt. Cindy Marten.

We do NOT know is how much the many NEW blunders by Marten will increase the SDUSD budget deficit.

But we DID create a trend analysis and look at the growth of the legal costs since the appointment of the poorly credentialed Marten.

The following anonymous letter from one of our readers prompted our investigation:

ln San Diego Unified, the Board of Education, the superintendent, and the Legal Services Department all operate the same way . . . in the shadows, hidden from public scrutiny.

On February 26, 2013, after an unscheduled closed session meeting, the Board selected Cindy Marten to be the superintendent without any hint of a viable, transparent selection process.

Similarly, on May 28,2013, Andra Donovan was promoted to the district’s General Counsel-again, WITH NO SELECTION PROCESS OF ANY KIND.

We already know what we are getting with the appointment of Superintendent Cindy Marten . . . an inexperienced puppet to do certain Board members’ bidding . . .

But we haven’t yet analyzed the consequences of General Counsel Andra Donovan’s reckless appointment. . . Let’s see:

We would not even know that the district had six attorneys on the payroll if we had to rely on the SDUSD Legal Services web pages! The webpages are completely vague and useless-Andra Donovan’s name isn’t even on it.

Again, the district is operating in the shadows. We have to use Transparent California to know who even works in the district’s Legal Services Office.

District Deeds took the advice of our reader and accessed Transparent California to pull the San Diego Unified legal staffing costs…here are the results from 2015 ALONE:



We created a chart that included the IN HOUSE Legal Staffing Expenses since Marten and Donovan were appointed:


As you can see, the IN HOUSE Legal Expenses is $4,625,410 with a HUGE 35% INCREASE over the 3 year period.  

This expense DOES NOT cover all the additional SDUSD staff support provided by other departments involved with defending Marten’s management blunders in court like the Green Elementary Investigator lawsuit.

The anonymous letter from our reader also included a chart of expenses for outsourced legal services approved by the SDUSD Board of Education since 2013.  We then compiled the following chart of outsourced legal expenses:


The WHOPPING Outsourced Legal Expense amounts to 9,451,000 MILLION DOLLARS a 52% INCREASE over the 3 year period!!!

We also discovered a couple very interesting items in this analysis:

  • Supt. Marten, apparently under the direction of Counsel Donovan, approved the use of EIGHTEEN DIFFERENT LAW FIRMS in this 3 year period.  Remember…that is IN ADDITION to the 11 SDUSD employees in the Legal Department.
  • TWO of the Law Firms created an expense over 3 years EQUAL TO the annual budget of the in-house Legal Department.

The final chart provides the summary of all SDUSD Legal Support:


When you combine In-House and Outsourced Legal Support, the TOTAL is a STUNNING 13,770,410 MILLION DOLLARS…a 46% INCREASE over the 3 year period!!!

There is one more key point…

That $13,770,410 DOES NOT INCLUDE THE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN SETTLEMENTS, COURT FEES, FINES AND JUDGEMENTS that have to be paid by the SDUSD for the legal disasters caused by Marten! 

If you add up ALL the employees of the SDUSD involved in the legal defense of Supt. Marten blunders and cover-ups and ADD them to the employees of the EIGHTEEN Law Firms doing the same, you have a virtual ARMY of legal defenders.

Past and present senior members of the SDUSD executive team have mentioned many times that the SDUSD is NOT run by the Board of Education or by the Superintendent.

They say it is run by the Legal Department.

This unbudgeted, unethical betrayal of voter and stakeholder trust allows Marten and her Board of Education cronies…Richard Barrera, John Evans, Kevin Beiser, Mike McQuary and Sharon Payne to wield their unlimited power with millions of dollars and an ARMY of legal support to fully deny the rights of thousands of SDUSD Stakeholders and Taxpayers.

An example of the perversion was recently illustrated. The San Diego Union-Tribune recently published an editorial titled “San Diego Unified’s Handling of Marne Foster Mess Still Mystifying” that outlined the “removal cost” of the convicted Trustee Marne Foster.

The premise of the editorial is that the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) continues the “mishandling of this mess” including the payment of an additional $188,000 OVER the $40,000 originally approved bringing the total DLA Piper bill to $228.000.

ALL of that money was spent by Marten, Barrera, Evans, McQuary and Beiser to save the job of a corrupt Board of Education crony at the financial expense of SDUSD Students.  The Board, with their massive legal firepower, dragged the process out long enough to avoid a special election and instead just inserted another Crony, Sharon Whitehurst Payne, in her place…who got a NINE MONTH head start in the general election!!!

Payne was elected with thousands of dollars from the same donors that got the other 4 Crony board members elected.

In other words, the Legal Expenses to protect Marne Foster helped sway the election to their predetermined candidate!

This is NOT mystifying…it is Standard Operating CORRUPT Procedure for the SDUSD Leadership! 

But the San Diego Union-Tribune and the rest of the local press MUST NOT STOP at the Marne Foster debacle!

We should ALL demand transparency and honesty from the SDUSD leadership in legal affairs.

Let’s start with the SDUSD  legal defense and cover-ups:

The Marten mismanagement of all ALL of these issues and more adding to the impending $117 MILLION DOLLAR* deficit for 2017 will hopefully be too much for her Board of Education cronies to bear…they will be FORCED to fire her for incompetence.

If not, budget insolvency may be the best solution for the SDUSD Stakeholders to sweep ALL the Board of Education Members AND the Superintendent OUT of power through a bailout and takeover by the State of California like they did in Oakland in 2001 as described by the Voice of San Diego back in 2011.

We can only hope!

(*DISTRICT DEEDS NOTE: Our original story mentioned a $168 Million deficit for 2017/2018 instead of a $117 Million deficit.  The $168 Million is for the 2018/2019 school year.  It has been corrected. We will post updates on this story as they become available.)



  • Your family has been injured by the San Diego Unified School District, go to the District Deeds Complaint Forms page to find instructions to fight for your Civil Rights!

Please Click the Link Below and sign the Petition Today and READ the COMMENTS to Support the REMOVAL of Marten by SDUSD Stakeholders! 

FIRE San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten Immediately!

  • You want to be sure you don’t miss an issue of District Deeds, click the “follow” button below and you will get an email automatically when an article is published on District Deeds.

About District Deeds

Mr. Engle is a blogger dedicated to investigating the San Diego Unified School District. His blog, District Deeds, strives to create transparency to the "deeds" the SDUSD hides from the SDUSD Stakeholders - Students - Parents - Teachers - Administrators - Community Members

4 thoughts on “The Legal Cost of San Diego Unified Supt. Cindy Marten Blunders and Cover-Ups: Almost $14 MILLION…and Counting!”

  1. francine maxwell said:

    Morning that was powerful nice job!

    Sent from my Sprint phone


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s