Just as the scandalous case of corruption in Bell came to a close this week with the sentencing of Robert Rizzo, the Centinela Valley Union High School District is reacting with bewilderment to the fact that its superintendent received compensation last year of $663,000.
A few days ago, the school board replaced José Fernández, who is on paid leave, with one of his close advisors. In a chaotic meeting, the Board decided to hire a law firm to conduct a forensic study of Fernández’s contract with the district, took action to correct a serious financial error by the district in reporting its employees’ compensation to the IRS, and made an internal change, replacing the Board’s president with another of its five members.
All this gives the impression that the school board is more interested in controlling the scandal with marginal actions than in explaining the logic behind Fernández’s inflated compensation
They were the ones who approved compensation well above what President Obama earns for running a district of 6,600 students in three high schools and other programs. This is the board that gave Fernández the option to take out a low-interest $910,000 loan to buy a home. His contract also included a clause ensuring him a 9% annual raise, and another requiring the agreement of four of five board members to dismiss him, and if dismissed without cause, Fernández will receive a large payout.
Nothing the board has done clarifies the reasons behind Fernández’s compensation and contract. To the contrary, its actions are grounds for greater concern about the competence of this group of officials responsible for the education of thousands of students.