After hearing a report in regard to an investigation into allegations of misuse of public funds by “Public Official, Superintendent and Business Manager” at a public board meeting on November 12, the Board of Trustees of the Vallecitos School District (VSD) voted to approve an extension of Superintendent Paul A. Cartas’ contract to July 30, 2013.
The serious allegation made against Cartas and General Manager Patricia Bell was that the two had intentionally misused public funds by receiving cash in lieu of their medical benefits.
It was stated that the teachers’ association restructured their benefit program to eliminate the option during the 1993-1994 school year.
The accusation stated that Cartas and Bell were “no longer authorized” to receive the money and that it “therefore constituted a misuse of public funds.”
The Law Office of Pamela A. Dempsey was retained to investigate the allegation for the district and found that, while the teachers eliminated the “language” that permitted cash in lieu of benefits in their contracts, the option remained unchanged in the superintendent and business manager’s contracts.
Cartas requested that the investigation’s findings be reported at a public hearing because he wanted everyone to hear the allegations and the legal findings reported to the district and have “no doubts” what the outcome of the investigation was.
“I know I’m clean in everything I do,” said Cartas, “so I had nothing to lose by being publicly discussed.”
VSD board member Sandy Wells said that throughout Cartas’ tenure as superintendent, he has “never done anything but given the best for the students in his district.”
It seems the rest of the board agreed with Wells’ statement, as they voted to approve the extension of Cartas’ contract.
The decision continues Cartas’ service and he is currently the longest sitting superintendent in San Diego County. He has served the Vallecitos district for 18 years.
“I take it as an honor that the community of Rainbow has trusted my leadership through all those times,” he said. “I’m also very pleased that we have made some very significant changes in that time.”
One of the challenges Cartas has tackled as superintendent is continuously working with the at-risk population of students who start kindergarten unable to speak English.
However, because of the administration and staff’s hard work and focus on academic performance, those same at-risk students are proficient in their grade level standards by second grade.
“This is one of the programs we’ve continuously had to work at,” said Cartas. “Once we bring the kids up to level standards, we get a new batch of kids who have to be brought up.”
Cartas, who began his career in education in the community of Encinitas, says he enjoys working at VSD because of its intimate and caring environment.
“[Students] cannot get lost in the crowd because the teachers know the students and the parents,” he explained. “It sets a nice tone and atmosphere that parents notice.”
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