LAWNDALE (CBSLA.com) — The Centinela Valley School District board came down on their heavily overpaid superintendent Tuesday, voting to cut off his pay and place him on administrative leave.
Superintendent Jose Fernandez originally came under fire when it was revealed that he made $663,000 in total compensation in 2013, which is more than the President of the United States makes annually.
In mid-April, documents from the school district, obtained by KCAL9 investigative reporter Dave Goldstein, suggested the district was paying an additional amount of over $50,000 each year for a $1,000,000 whole-life insurance policy in Fernandez’ name.
On Tuesday, the board voted to put an end to Fernandez’ inflated pay.
“I would like to report out to you that, of the board members present, all voted to place Superintendent Jose Fernandez on unpaid administrative leave,” president of the school board Hugo Rojas II said to applause at a meeting.
Additional allegations suggest Fernandez may face further repercussion from other departments.
“We voted 4-0 to accept the recommendation by legal council,” Rojas said. “We had an extensive review of the investigations that are being concluded.”
Fernandez faced initial backlash when it was reported that he was one of the highest-paid superintendents in the country, even though his district only includes three high schools and a total of under 7,000 students.
The district is reported to have additionally given Fernandez a long-term, low-interest home loan of nearly $1 million.
Meanwhile, the students in his district reported having inadequate materials for learning, and a number of faculty were said to have been let go.
“Six-hundred and seventy-three thousand dollars? I mean, that’s outrageous,” education activist Marian Thomas said. “You know, but purchasing a home. We’re not a lending institution. We’re an institution of learning. The children made statements, saying that they didn’t have books. There was no toilet paper.”
Furthermore, Thomas suggested that the members of the school board, charged with the responsibility of overseeing the superintendent, should all resign.
“It’s an abomination, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again,” Thomas said. “It’s just wrong, and we need justice here. And I want to know, when is the justice going to happen? You know, this was like a ‘cash cow’. These are taxpayer dollars, hard-earned taxpayer dollars. And the students deserve better.”
Centinela Valley secondary Teachers Assocation President Jack Foreman says Fernandez created a climate of fear and intimidation amongst teachers and administrators.
“(At) that first board meeting, it was a big effort for me to convince a lot of the teachers to come to the board meeting, because they felt that just by appearing at the board meeting, that they would be subject to retribution,” Foreman said. “Just (by) being in the audience.”