By Nancy Mitchell, EDUCATION NEWS COLORADO
Lawrence Hernandez, who founded Pueblo’s Cesar Chavez Academy with his wife Annette, has settled a lawsuit against the boards that fired him, his wife and another administrator.
The three will share a total payout of $145,000, according to documents provided by the boards’ attorney Nicholas Gradisar under the Colorado Open Records Act.
Lawrence Hernandez, Annette Hernandez and Velia Rincon sued the board of directors of Chavez and its companion high school, Dolores Huerta, after the boards of the two charter schools fired them in October 2009.
According to a press release, which is signed on behalf of the CCA and Huerta boards by Donielle Gonzales, “our dispute … has ended in an amicable resolution agreed to by all parties.” Gonzales signed the settlement agreements as president of both the CCA and Huerta boards.
Documents obtained under the open-records law show Lawrence Hernandez will receive $83,212 while Annette Hernandez will receive $43,251.60 and Velia Rincon will receive $18,536.40.
Gradisar, reached at his Pueblo office, said the amounts are being paid by the schools’ liability insurance carrier and refunds on “key man” insurance policies formerly held by the schools for the Hernandezes and former chief finance officer Jason Guerrero. Such policies are not uncommon in the business sector to cover losses if top executives move on.
In May, Pueblo City School District 60, the charter authorizer for CCA and Huerta, sent a letter outlining deficiencies to the charter school boards that, among other items, prohibited them from using any federal, state or local tax money to resolve pending litigation.
The district’s letter came after an audit of the charters’ finances found nepotism, unchecked spending and excessive salaries for the Hernandezes and for Guerrero.
Pueblo School Board President Stephanie Garcia said Wednesday afternoon that she had just received the settlement agreements and was reviewing them.
“I’m seeing them for the first time. We are going to have to reach out and have some legal review,” Garcia said. “We’re going to have to see how this fits into the notice of deficiencies regarding use of taxpayer money. I have just as many questions as you have at this point.”
Read the settlements
Prior EdNews’ coverage