Embattled Twin Rivers trustee Cortez Quinn to take 90-day leave of absence

Twin Rivers Unified School District board member Cortez Quinn told fellow trustees Thursday night that he is taking a 90-day leave of absence after a hastily called closed-session meeting.

Quinn, 46, was arrested Tuesday and faces multiple felony counts after allegedly conspiring to falsify a paternity test and illegally receiving loans from a school district employee. He was released Wednesday on $25,000 bail. His next court date is Wednesday.

“I believe it is the best interest of this district and its students that I take this leave,” Quinn read from a statement after the closed session. “It is my honor to serve this district as a school board member, and I intend to continue ... in the future.”

Quinn attended the closed session but recused himself from the discussion, trustee Michael Baker said.

Immediately after his statement, board members voted to discuss his resignation at the next regular school board meeting later this month.

“I question his ability to make decisions for my child,” said parent Sasha Vogt after the announcement. She’s glad Quinn has taken a leave of absence. “For the first time, he’s taken action in the best interest of the children.”

The school board can only ask Quinn for his resignation. A school board member cannot be removed unless he is convicted of a crime, said Brad Buyse of the Sacramento County Elections Department. Residents can launch a recall effort, which would require the signatures of 15 percent of the 71,000 registered voters in the school district – 10,650 people. If enough signatures are collected, the recall would go on the ballot in the next election or the Sacramento County Office of Education could call a special election. Buyse could not say what a special election would cost, but he said it could be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A number of people have called the elections office over the years to ask about recalling Quinn, Buyse said. They change their mind when they hear how many signatures they are required to collect, he said.

The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office says Quinn colluded with Andre Antoine Pearson, 36, to falsify a DNA test to be used in a paternity suit by Sherilene Chycoski, a Twin Rivers Unified employee. Pearson was a Comprehensive Medical Inc. employee responsible for collecting DNA swabs from individuals, and prosecutors say he sent a sample from a third party in place of Quinn’s to a DNA analysis lab for use in the court case. Pearson was arrested Wednesday morning on suspicion of conspiring to falsify evidence. He was released that day on $15,000 bail.

A criminal investigator followed Quinn into the bathroom at a Twin Rivers Unified board meeting in August and collected a DNA sample from a paper towel Quinn used. The DNA results gave prosecutors reason to believe he manipulated a previous genetics test to deny he fathered a child with Chycoski.

“There is absolutely no place for him,” said Ross Hendricks of the Del Paso Heights Community Association on Thursday night. “Lying to cover lies. Denying a child is unacceptable.”

Quinn, 46, graduated from UC Davis with a bachelor’s degree in international relations in 1993. He has been a fixture in Sacramento politics, serving first as Roger Dickinson’s chief of staff when he was a Sacramento County supervisor, then as Dickinson’s district director when he ascended to the state Assembly.

His political future started to unravel last year when allegations surfaced that he had accepted $52,000 in loans and $4,000 in gifts from Chycoski. It is illegal for an elected official to accept loans from an employee, according to state government code. He also failed to report the loans or gifts on the state’s annual conflict-of-interest filings – a requirement for both elected officials and staff.

Quinn and Dickinson parted ways in August 2012 by “mutual agreement,” according to the assemblyman. Quinn’s Assembly salary was $84,000 a year.

Things got worse for Quinn in October when Chycoski filed a suit against him saying he never repaid the loan.

No one supporting Quinn attended Thursday’s meeting, but friends contacted by The Bee said he is a good guy who made a mistake.

James Shelby, president of the Greater Sacramento Urban League, called Quinn “a great person” and he is “a loving and caring father and has a daughter in college.”

“I just think it’s a private matter that went public,” he said.

“He made a dumb mistake and compounded it with bad decisions,” said Derrell Roberts, who runs Roberts Family Development Center, which offers after-school programs to local school districts. He said he thinks of Quinn as someone who donates bottles of wine for raffles and supports the local football teams.

Roberts, who has spoken to Quinn since his release on bail, said the trustee is in “as good spirits as you would expect right now. He recognizes he has to make some decisions.”

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