Teachers Accuse San Ysidro District of Favoritism

15 San Ysidro teachers picketed outside Willow School calling for a fair contract.

By Chris Chan
|  Tuesday, Feb 5, 2013  |  Updated 9:06 PM PDT
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Teachers in San Ysidro say nepotism is the reason why they still don't have a contract, with sons, daughters and cousins of board members and administrators working in the school district. NBC 7 reporter Chris Chan spoke to district officials and the teachers who are worrying about their jobs.

Teachers in San Ysidro say nepotism is the reason why they still don't have a contract, with sons, daughters and cousins of board members and administrators working in the school district. NBC 7 reporter Chris Chan spoke to district officials and the teachers who are worrying about their jobs.

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More than halfway through the school year, there's still no agreement between San Ysidro teachers and the San Ysidro School District.

Teachers said the point of contention is the district's desire to give the School Board final say over grievances, which are brought to Assistant Superintendent Jason Romero.

"Jason Romero's mother sits on the school board and I think that's a definite conflict of interest to decide if her son did the right thing or the wrong thing," said Carol Wallace, President of the San Ysidro Teachers Association

Some teachers said nepotism is a problem at the district, with sons, daughters and cousins of Board Members and administrators working in the school district.

Carol Wallace said some did not deserve their positions.

"Some people are chosen with just a three years of experience over more qualified candidates with 27 years of experience," said Wallace.

Last November, the board approved a $10,000 a year pay raise for Jason Romero by a margin of three to one. His mother Jean Romero voted yes. Board member Jason Wells cast the one dissenting vote.

"In the current economic climate, I didn't think it was appropriate," he said.

Teachers feel this smacks of nepotism.

"I would love for my mother to vote for a $10,000 pay raise for me," said Wallace.

The pay raise coincides with contract negotiations in which teachers have been asked to sacrifice.

"Teachers have not gotten any raises in over eight years. They've given up furlough days. So the teacher's furlough days are going to pay for administrators' increases," said Josie Hamada, a retired teacher who still supports the association.

The district did not want to comment on the contract or allegations of nepotism, but Superintendent Manuel Paul has said that he doesn't directly supervise his relatives that work in the district.

And the President of the teacher's association said some relatives deserve their jobs.

But parent Frankie Santos said pay raises for family members didn't sit well with him.

"That'd be promoting themselves. not us or the kids. and definitely the most important thing here at school would be the kids' future," he said.

The contract dispute comes at difficult time in the school board. Superintendent Paul faces four felony counts for allegedly accepting gifts above the legal limit. He's also involved in a federal investigation over taking bribes from contractors.

Board Trustee Yolanda Hernandez is also involved in the federal investigation and faces 3 felony charges in the county including perjury.

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