Centinela Valley school district to sue superintendent

Centinela Valley school district to sue superintendent

Centinela Valley school district to sue superintendent who made $750,000 in 2013. The Centinela Valley school district is going on the offensive in its lengthy legal dispute with disgraced Superintendent Jose Fernandez. The school district told a judge last week it is planning to countersue Fernandez, alleging he fraudulently and illegally took money from the district through his high salary and benefits, which reached more than $750,000 in 2013.

The school district’s reasons for suing Fernandez are similar to its reasons for firing him.

One of the ways Fernandez was able to amass such a large compensation was his unusually short work year. While most people have a 260-day work year — five days a week for 52 weeks a year — Fernandez’s contracted work year was 45 days less, at 215 days.

Centinela attorneys allege Fernandez not only failed to work those 215 days, but also was overpaid for accrued vacation days and sick days he took on top of his already shortened calendar, violating his contract and against the advice of the Los Angeles County Office of Education, according to a draft of the cross-complaint the district plans to file.

In the draft complaint, the district also alleges Fernandez:

• Knowingly failed to disclose his recent personal bankruptcy to district officials before the district gave him a low-interest, $910,000 home loan with no down payment.

• Used attorneys paid for by the school district for his own personal gain.

• Pushed various resolutions through the school board that benefited him personally, including one giving him a $750,000 life insurance policy, by failing to provide the board with relevant documents until the last minute.

“Fernandez created expenditures of taxpayer money on behalf of the district, designed for personal benefit,” the proposed complaint reads.

Attorneys representing Fernandez did not respond to requests for comment and an attorney representing Centinela said the law firm does not comment on ongoing litigation.

The district still needs permission from the court to file the cross-complaint because so much time has passed since Fernandez filed his original lawsuit.

Court filings don’t explain why it has taken so long for the district to file the cross-complaint, other than to say it comes after Centinela attorneys “reviewed thousands of pages of documents.”

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