Sunnyside board demands Hernandez prove corruption allegations

2013-09-20T00:00:00Z Sunnyside board demands Hernandez prove corruption allegationsBy Carmen Duarte Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

After Sunnyside Unified School District Governing Board member Daniel Hernandez Jr. sent out a fundraising letter accusing others in the district of corruption, other board members voted Thursday to demand he provide proof or retract his accusations.

The board also voted to have Hector Encinas, the district’s chief financial officer, send a letter to the state auditor general requesting an investigation into Hernandez’s claims.

Board members Louie Gonzales, Bobby Garcia and Eva Carrillo Dong voted in favor of the actions at a special board meeting Thursday. Board member Buck Crouch opposed the action.

Hernandez, who was out of town, did not vote, but participated in the meeting by telephone. He referred to claims in his Sept. 16 fundraising letter including allegations of nepotism, implying that there are board members who have family working for the district and stating that the board votes to approve hiring and firing.

Hernandez did not identify the board members nor go into specifics, but Gonzales and Dong are known to have relatives working for the district.

The letter was to raise money to fight a recall aimed at him and Crouch.

In it, he refers to fliers circulated in district neighborhoods last month attacking his sexual orientation and his stance on gun control.

Hernandez wrote that those calling for his removal have used “scare tactics.”

“I’m facing a potential recall not because I’ve been ineffective but because a small and vocal minority is unhappy that I’ve tackled the big issues of corruption in the district,” he wrote.

A citizens group wants to recall Hernandez and Crouch, citing their disunity with the board majority. The pair have been among Superintendent Manuel Isquierdo’s biggest critics.

Gonzales and Garcia are also targets of another recall because they and Dong approved a two-year contract extension for Isquierdo.

A draft of the district’s letter to Hernandez states in part:

“To the extent that you implicate the entire Sunnyside district, it is damaging and intentionally undermines the school board’s position” in the community.

“Furthermore, the record does not reflect that there has ever been any investigation or inquiry by you concerning corruption. Nor, to the board’s knowledge, have you ever instigated an inquiry or made allegations to the board of the type and sort of corruption you are ‘fighting.’ ”

The letter asks Hernandez to provide proof of his claims within five days or “publish a retraction of these allegations.”

Contact Carmen Duarte at cduarte@azstarnet.com or 573-4104.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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