LAWNDALE (CBSLA.com) — Residents demanded answers at an emergency meeting in Lawndale Tuesday night after a series of reports revealed an excessive amount of compensation for the superintendent of the Centinela Valley Union High School District.
KCAL9’s Dave Bryan reports that Jose Fernandez’s total compensation last year was $663,000, all for running a district of three high schools with only about 6,500 students.
The school district also floated a loan of more than $900,000 for Fernandez at 2 percent interest over 40 years at a time when he had already declared bankruptcy, Bryan reported.
“You should all step down and walk away from this! This is ridiculous! This is nuts, this is crazy! I give my wife everything! I do anything I can for my wife! I’m sleeping with her! Who are you sleeping with?” a man screamed.
“I propose that there be a special recall election of this whole damn board, and a criminal investigation into the board for breach of fiduciary responsibility,” another man said.
“Not only is it wrong, it’s unethical, it is immoral to pay anybody that amount,” a woman said.
Hawthorne High School teacher Caryn Charles said the district is giving lavish loans and huge salaries to the superintendent when she has to pay to buy paper for her students.
“It’s really embarrassing as a teacher that we don’t have any paper at our department at our school. With all due respect to all of you, but it’s embarrassing when I have to go to Office Depot and buy paper, and I read that other people don’t have to worry about things like that,” she said.
Former board member Sandra Suarez said Fernandez should resign from his post.
“I think the superintendent needs to resign and give back everything he’s taken. It’s morally and ethically wrong, and it’s affecting our children,” she said.
Fernandez eventually responded to the residents’ outrage.
“I do hear you. I’ve listened very carefully, and I will sit and work with the board to deal with your concerns and the concerns they may have, and I think we’ll go through a process,” he said.
Fernandez told the crowd that he rescued a district that was like Haiti when he got there in 2008.
“The facilities here were…my God…some of them were similar to the situation in Haiti,” he said.