Rialto Unified School District

By Beau Yarbrough, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 07/19/14, 10:25 AM PDT |

Rialto >> When former Rialto Unified Superintendent Harold Cebrun agreed he would leave his job at the end of March, he and the school board agreed: Neither would say a disparaging word about the other. Three months later, the district has paid out more than $30,000 for violating that non-disparagement clause.

At Wednesday’s school board meeting, the board agreed to pay a $33,687.50 settlement by a 4-1 vote, with board member Edgar Montes dissenting, during the closed-doors session that preceded the general meeting.

According to the terms of Cebrun’s Feb. 28 separation agreement, each instance of a disparaging comment made by either party would result in a $20,000 fine. Wednesday’s agreement related to five instances of school board members making remarks about Cebrun, according to sources with direct knowledge of the matter but who were not authorized to comment publicly.

Cebrun, who was hired in February 2009, was placed on paid administrative leave last September. The move was apparently part of the fallout from the arrest of former district accountant Judith Oakes, who had a personal relationship with the superintendent.

He is not a suspect in the Oakes embezzlement case, according to Rialto police. She is accused of stealing $1.8 million in lunch money proceeds from the district’s Nutrition Services Department over the past eight years.

Cebrun faced indirect criticism from two reviews from the state’s Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team, which helps public school districts with their finances. (Both reviews were requested of FCMAT in July 2013, prior to Oakes’ initial arrest in August.)

• On Jan. 6, FCMAT’s review of the district’s contract and purchasing processes found that “the highest level of administration” did not follow proper purchasing procedures and that contracts were sometimes approved by Cebrun or his office without proper oversight.

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