Friday, 17 February 2017

Ed. board unanimously votes to reinstate Superintendent Jon Fernandez

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Months after a controversial termination of Superintendent Jon Fernandez's contract, the Guam Education Board voted in favor of a full reinstatement. Now the only question left remains: will the superintendent accept his post once again? 

Guam – In a packed board room, the Guam Education Board members shuffled in at 9 this morning with a singular purpose: to decide on the fate of ousted Superintendent Jon Fernandez.

"It is my recommendation that we move forward in executive session because we need to discuss the ongoing litigation regarding Mr. Fernandez,” advised Deputy Attorney General Ken Orcutt.

With this advisement, the board members then went into an hour long executive session and emerged from the closed-door meeting appearing confident of their discussion, resulting with all seven board members voting in favor of a full reinstatement of Jon Fernandez. But the reinstatement wasn't the only motion on the table. A total of five motions were voted on, each one met with unanimous support.

The five motions are:

-"To rescind the October 3rd motion to terminate Fernandez's contract." Thus, reinstating Fernandez to return to his post as Superintendent.

-"To not accept the draft of the Title IX investigation report to include travel documents prepared and submitted legal counsel."

-"If any of these travel reports are contained from Fernandez's employment contract/file that they be expunged."

-"To rescind the Bill of Particulars."

-"To conclude the administrative leave and advise Fernandez to report to work on Monday, February 20."

After the unanimous voting took place, GEB Chairman Peter Alecxis Ada tasked board members Ron McNinch, Mark Mendiola, Maria Guittierez, and James Lujan to inquire with Jon Fernandez personally.

“We'll see what they discover, or what was the dialogue between them and Mr. Fernandez,” said Board chairman Peter Alecxis Ada. “The question is, we don't know if Fernandez is coming back or not,” he said.

There is no indication yet on whether the conditions of the full reinstatement include dropping the lawsuit against the board. Fernandez filed a $7 million lawsuit against GEB and former and current members after the controversial termination of his contract.

"Well, at this point, the question is what would the damages be in a case like that? He hasn't lost anything. Jon Fernandez has been paid every paycheck,” noted Gary Gumataotao. "I still don't think he has a claim anyways, what's his damage? He's already been paid,” he claimed.

The meeting's adjournment was met with soft cheers and sighs of relief, but what does this mean for the alleged Title IX victim that prompted the initial investigation and subsequent termination of Superintendent Fernandez's contract in the first place?

Marcia Palomo, the alleged victim's advocate told PNC that’s exactly why she was present today. 

"I'm here because of Mr. Fernandez to see whether they're gonna go ahead and reinstate him or not. Whatever the decisions the board makes, I'm okay with it. I will not get disappointed with whatever the board decides. Now, if Mr. Fernandez is reinstated, then that's up to the board to decide, it's not for us to question it. But I just want to know whether the criminal investigation is going to go forward or not,” she said.

That was one question no one seemed to address.

Instead, the focus of this GEB meeting was to hit the reset button, creating the most ideal setting for Fernandez to potentially return. With motions like expunging Fernandez's employee file of the travel documents that allude to allegations of an extramarital affair, GEB's motions essentially wiped the slate clean of any or all bad blood between former board members and the superintendent.

Although some board members were already calling this meeting a "done deal", this decision did not arrive easily. 

Months after Fernandez's controversial termination, subsequent board member resignations, and allegations of infighting, the Education Board has seen its fair share of tumultuous ups and downs before they could finally arrive at a consensus. Despite this, the voting results came as no surprise to board member Ron McNinch who called for the first motion to rescind the controversial vote of termination.

"He is a consummate professional,” remarked board member, Ron McNinch of the superintendent. “He cares about this organization. You heard cheers from the staffers and other administrators so they love him too, so I think that, every single board member that I've dealt with since January 3 has been very positive about Mr. Fernandez --no negatives at all. I'm very pleased and I know that we're moving on,” he added.

Meanwhile, Superintendent Jon Fernandez and his legal counsel were not available for comment as of news time. 

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