In a new lawsuit, San Ysidro School District superintendent Dr. Julio Fonseca is accused of using $113,433 in public funds to silence a whistleblower who threatened to go public with allegations that Fonseca had hired his lover without disclosing the nature of their relationship.
Filed by San Diegans for Open Government attorney Cory Briggs, the lawsuit outlines what was an allegedly intricate plan by Fonseca and boardmembers to suppress the controversy surrounding the hiring of Alexis Rodriguez.
According to the complaint, Fonseca requested that the board hire Rodriguez in December 2015. At the time, however, he failed to inform boardmembers that he was in an "intimate sexual relationship" with Rodriguez.
The board agreed to hire Rodriguez as head of the district's "After School Education and Safety Program." Shortly after the board's decision, a district employee, whose name has not been released, asked Fonseca if he had informed the board that he and Rodriguez were in a relationship. Less than three weeks later the employee received a notice of termination. That's when, according to the complaint, the cover-up began.
The employee hired Gomez Trial Attorneys for representation in a possible wrongful-termination claim.
In April 2016, still before any lawsuit was filed, San Ysidro school-board trustees met in closed session to discuss a "California Government Tort Claim against District dated March 23, 2016," submitted by the Gomez Trial Attorneys. A search has revealed that no such lawsuit was ever filed with the courts.
Later that month Fonseca contacted the San Diego County Office of Education, the public agency in charge of legal issues for dozens of districts throughout the county, and requested that the former employee be paid $113,433 to settle a March 2016 tort claim. But according to the complaint, district officials have gone on the record to say that it never received a tort claim. In addition, no formal decision had ever been made by district trustees to request payment from the County Office of Education.
Nevertheless, the whistleblower received the money in exchange for a guarantee that they would be silent on the nature of Fonseca's and Rodriguez's relationship, charges the lawsuit: "Simply put, Fonseca was buying [the] whistleblower's silence in order to protect Fonseca's job and reputation."
Fonseca did not respond to a request for comment.