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News

Superintendent Of Tiny District Fired Over Controversy That He Made A Whopping $663,000

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The superintendent of a small high school district in Hawthorne who made over $663,000 last year managed to fly under the radar until folks started noticing his boosted earnings five months ago. And on Tuesday night, his school board unanimously voted to fire him.Though the school board did not give a specific reason for ousting Centinela Valley Union High School District Superintendent Jose Fernandez, they did say it was "for cause," according to the L.A. Times. Members of the board had hired an outside firm to review Fernandez's case to find a reason to boot him out because his contract states that he can only be fired if there is a "substantial and material breach." Otherwise, they would have to face an 18-month buyout, which could cost them an estimated $500,000. The board still needs to give Fernandez, who was suspended in April, a written statement explaining why they are firing him before he can be terminated, and he has 10 days to schedule a meeting with the board to talk about his concerns.

Fernandez had it pretty sweet for years. In comparison, he made a lot more than other superintendents tending larger school districts. (For example, LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy makes $389,887 in total compensation for overseeing 900 schools.) Fernandez, who's gone through bankruptcy twice in the past, made a base salary of $271,000 in 2013, but it was his perks amounting to almost $400,000 which put him over the top. He also got an amazing loan from the school district in 2012 (which he bought a house with): $910,000 with a low 2 percent interest over 40 years.

Some argued at the board meeting that members of the school district knew about how much he was making and shouldn't be let off the hook. "Anybody who knew about this and allowed the superintendent to do what he did needs to be put on the chopping block," said Cesar Perez, president of a union representing nonteaching employees, according to the Daily Breeze. "It would send a message, not only to the state but the whole country that this cannot be happening. It is an abuse of power and that cannot be tolerated anymore.”"

Separately, the FBI, the L.A. County district attorney, the county education office and a state pension system are all looking into Fernandez's case.