Twin Rivers Unified School District officials have informed the Sacramento County district attorney of allegations that trustee Cortez Quinn illegally took a substantial loan from a district employee.
The district confirmed it had received documentation, including bank transfers, showing an employee last year loaned Quinn money. According to sources, the employee is Sherilene Chycoski, the district's director of visual and performing arts, and the loan amount was about $55,000. Last June, Chycoski filed a paternity suit in which she names Quinn as the father of her baby.
Quinn, who is running for re-election in June, did not return calls for comment, but sent a text message late Wednesday saying he would comment today. Chycoski and her attorney each declined to comment.
"These are serious allegations and we want to investigate them thoroughly," said board President Roger Westrup. "At the same time, we want to give Mr. Quinn an opportunity to tell his side of the story."
It is illegal for an elected official to take a loan from an employee, according to state government code. Quinn did not report any loans on the state's annual Form 700 conflict of interest filings, which he most recently filed in April.
Quinn, who is the district director for Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, is part of the first group of trustees elected to the 4-year-old Twin Rivers Unified district.
The school district has been in the spotlight over the past seven months as the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office, the FBI, the state attorney general's office and the Sacramento Police Department each investigate a number of issues, including allegations the district used state criminal justice computers to run background checks on hundreds of students.
District Superintendent Frank Porter has announced he is retiring June 30. Deputy Superintendent Ziggy Robeson was placed on paid administrative leave last month.
On Wednesday, in an emailed statement, Twin Rivers Unified spokeswoman Trinette Marquis said the district was given documents that appear to show Quinn improperly accepted substantial personal loans from a district employee. Her email did not identify the employee.
"We are reviewing the documents and have forwarded them to the Sacramento District Attorney and the Fair Political Practices Commission," Marquis said in her email.
The allegations surfaced one day after The Bee reported that Twin Rivers Unified school board candidate John Berchielli has a criminal record, including felony convictions for marijuana cultivation and welfare fraud. He remains on probation but is eligible to run for the school board.
Berchielli and Quinn are running on competing slates in the June 5 race. Berchielli, who is not a board member, is on a mostly incumbent slate and is running in Area 3. Quinn is running in Area 5 with a group endorsed by the district's teachers union.
Teachers union President John Ennis said he had not heard details of the loan allegations and that he didn't believe inter-office romances were relevant to the election.
"I'm not worried about 40-year-old consenting adults," Ennis said. "If he took a loan, I encourage him to pay it back."
Quinn, 44, may have had more than one romance with district employees, according to court documents.
Jennifer Macias-Sweeny, who works in the business services department, in January filed a petition for a restraining order against Chycoski stemming from a dispute that, according to court records, involved their relationships with the same man. According to sources, that man was Quinn. In the restraining order request, Macias-Sweeny said Chycoski claimed to be pregnant with a child fathered by Macias-Sweeny's boyfriend. The restraining order was dismissed in April after Macias-Sweeny failed to attend a hearing.
Chycoski wrote in her response to the request that she was unaware the man who had fathered her child was dating another district employee during the time she was seeing him.
Chycoski did not identify the man in that response. But she named Quinn in the paternity suit filed in June 2011. Court officials said Wednesday that a judgment has not been made in that case.
The conflict between Macias-Sweeny and Chycoski required the school district to mediate, according to documents in the restraining order request.
In Chycoski's written response to the restraining order request, she said the district's human resources office told her she should use outside access doors to move between departments in order to avoid inadvertent contact with Macias-Sweeney. Chycoski wrote that she is on extended medical leave due to the stress created by the situation.