Cortez Quinn ends self-imposed leave, attends Twin Rivers board meeting

Cortez Quinn walked into the Twin Rivers Unified School District board room Tuesday night, camera crews chasing behind him, before joining the rest of the school board last night.

Quinn had been on a self-imposed 90-day leave from his board seat since shortly after his arrest Nov. 6 for allegedly accepting illegal loans from a school employee, falsifying a paternity test and using it in court to deny paternity.

The state government code allows a school board member to be absent for only 90 days with the consent of the board. Quinn was almost out of time. His 90 days ends today.

No audience members called for Quinn’s resignation at Tuesday’s meeting. Board members were largely silent as well, prevented by law from discussing or voting on an issue not on the meeting’s agenda.

Instead, board President Rebecca Sandoval issued a statement at the beginning of the meeting about Quinn’s return.

“There is no place in our district more important than our classrooms, and this board is firmly committed to ensuring that every student at every grade level is on track to graduate college and career-ready,” she read. “That is our focus, and nothing will distract us from our mission.”

The board had passed a resolution in November calling for Quinn to step down. A school board member can’t be forced to step down unless he is convicted of a crime, according to Sacramento County elections officials.

During a break in the meeting, Quinn told reporters he was “looking forward to continuing on the board.”

The district attorney’s case against Quinn is based on DNA collected from a crumpled paper towel that a criminal investigator fished out of a wastebasket after Quinn washed his hands in the bathroom while attending a school board meeting in August.

The arrest on three felony and five misdemeanor charges followed actions that sparked three lawsuits and a $14,000 fine levied against him by the California Fair Political Practices Commission. The commission found that he illegally accepted more than $55,000 in personal loans from a school employee without reporting them on financial disclosure forms.

The district’s teachers union paid $7,000 of the fine, but Quinn has failed to pay the balance, according to the FPPC. The state agency plans to ask the court to allow them to begin collections against Quinn that could include property liens, tax intercepts and wage garnishments.

Sandoval in April called for a censure of Quinn and for his removal as school board president, but was unable to garner enough support from the rest of the board. Censure is not a possibility now, because school board bylaws say the board can’t censure members while criminal charges are pending against them.

“We have to let due process take its course,” Sandoval said Tuesday.

Quinn was board president in 2012-13. He earns $750 a month as a trustee. He worked as a longtime aide to Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, in the Legislature and the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors. They parted ways in 2012 under a “mutual agreement” as Quinn was being investigated by the state Fair Political Practices Commission.

Quinn has yet to enter a plea in his case. A settlement hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 27 to see if there is potential to resolve the case, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

If convicted, Quinn faces a maximum of 12 years in prison on the 13 felony offenses and six months in the county jail for each of five misdemeanors.

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