LAWNDALE (CBSLA.com) — The public was outraged at a Tuesday night meeting of the Centinela Valley Union High School District board meeting after it surfaced that the board was paying $50,000 per year for a $1 million whole-life insurance policy for its superintendent, in addition to an inflated salary.
The embattled district board held a meeting in lieu of the controversially inflated salary for superintendent Jose Fernandez, at over $600,000 per year, and at taxpayer expense, with further evidence of the additional insurance policy, of which Fernandez has the ability to cash out at any time.
“I think it’s an abomination, really, it’s really an abomination,” Human services practitioner Marian Thomas said. “Those are taxpayer dollars, (and) what that is doing is its actually taking away from children. This is a working class neighborhood (and) school district, and that’s unthinkable, it’s unconscionable, really, I think. You know, where’s the moral fiber?”
Documents from the school district, obtained by KCAL9 investigative reporter Dave Goldstein, led to a story Monday night in which it was revealed that Fernandez’ salary may have only been the tip of the iceberg.
If the district were to continue paying for the insurance policy for another six year, Fernandez would be able to cash out with nearly $500,000.
Former school board member Frank Talavera, who left the board in 2009, told CBS2/KCAL9’s Dave Bryan that Fernandez’ roots in the scandal were planted from the beginning when the handling law firm “acted more on his behalf than the district’s behalf.”
“These were details that were admitted during our conversations when they presented his contract for interim superintendent, ” Talavera said. “So a lot of these details were missing.”
Members from other boards, such as Adaptive Physical Education specialist John Thornton, who was in attendance in Lawndale on Tuesday night, say that the insurance deal, in addition to the inflated salary, is equivalent to robbery.
“You know, bank robbers are watching you right now, and they’re going, ‘what? $675,000, and I’m in jail’, so its like, this is terrible,” Thornton said. “It’s just shocking. These are students, these are kids. That’s what you’re taking advantage of.”
An assistant superintendent is expected to be announced to replace Fernandez while an investigation continues.