SAN DIEGO - Parents in the San Ysidro School District are relieved Wednesday after board members denied a request to bill taxpayers to defend its embattled superintendent.
The board made what many saw as a surprise move Wednesday night by placing Superintendent Manuel Paul on paid administrative leave, following his indictment by a grand jury last month.
Minutes before this evening's special board meeting began, concerned citizens chanted, "Shame on you" outside San Ysidro School District's headquarters.
They were upset board members were even considering setting aside $200,000 from the general fund to pay for attorneys to represent indicted superintendent Paul and board member Yolanda Hernandez in upcoming criminal proceedings.
"I'm pissed off right now because this also happened to my other kids at the Sweetwater district and no, we won't stand for this, sir," said concerned citizen Suzi Avila.
Paul was indicted by a grand jury in December on felony charges, including corruption and bribery. Hernandez is also accused of similar crimes.
"I'm not guilty of anything," Hernandez said Wednesday evening.
When the packed meeting started on Wednesday evening, Paul was present in his seat, but after a closed session discussion, Paul did not return, as he was placed on paid leave.
"We wanted to make sure that our district is operating efficiently," board president Jason Wells told 10News.
In a unanimous vote, the board voted down Paul's pricey request to fund his criminal defense, which would have cost taxpayers $100,000.
"Very surprising because the past decisions they've made have not been the correct ones," said San Ysidro teacher Alma Cazares-Fahme.
Another teacher told 10News, "You know, I had my doubts, but I'm pleasantly surprised."
Hernandez also had requested the same as Paul – $100,000 for attorneys' fees – but before the board could take a vote, she pulled her pricey request from the agenda.
"I don't feel right taking funds from the children especially for this community… we're a low-income community," said Hernandez.
While on paid leave, Assistant Superintendent Gloria Madera will fill in for Paul.
Paul and Hernandez are two of 15 current and former South Bay school officials accused of similar crimes. Most are expected to enter pleas in court on Jan. 30th.