By HEATHER C. COX
Three months and a failed attempt at requesting an investigation later, San Benitians are left to wonder why School Board President Yliana G. Rodriguez bypassed district policy and procedure to “immediately” instate a new insurance agent for San Benito CISD.
Consequently, citizens are displeased, at least according to those polled on the matter Thursday.
On May 18, Rodriguez issued a retraction to Superintendent of Schools Antonio G. Limón at approximately 5:40 p.m. rescinding a letter she signed two days prior announcing that, “effective immediately,” Bob Treviño Insurance Group would no longer be the insurance agent to SBCISD. The original letter declared, thereafter, Robert Champion, Jr. and Salazar Insurance Group would be the “sole agents handling all medical, dental and stop loss contracts” for the district, this despite Bob Treviño Insurance Group remaining under contract with SBCISD for at least another year.
By May 25, board trustee Oscar Medrano filed a formal request to launch an investigation into the board president’s letter. The letter was in clear violation of district policy BDAA Local, which states that the duties and requirements of the board president are to preside at all board meetings unless unable to attend and to have the right to discuss, make motions and resolutions and vote on all matters coming before the board.
However, it was not until July 2 that Medrano was met with an answer from Limón. The request was denied on the grounds that “only the board, collectively” can request such an investigation.
It appeared Medrano was standing alone.
As many recent discussions at school board meetings have been held in closed session, not to mention board trustees and district officials proving difficult to reach, citizens are left without answers; some have even concluded that the school board is skirting the issue in hopes of dropping the matter altogether.
Medrano said, of a Finance Committee Meeting held on Tuesday, August 9, that serious concerns were raised when Glenn Hillyer, the school district’s insurance consultant, would not disclose the name of an insurance company, which he was recommending SBCISD utilize going forward.
The aforementioned company was later unveiled as the same Salazar Insurance Group Rodriguez had hastily announced was being adopted in May’s controversial letter.
“In my opinion,” Medrano said, “this raises serious concerns on the credibility of Hillyer and his negotiations while representing the SBCISD. This has also jeopardized the validity of the bidding process on this item,” and by item he was referring to the bid for any new insurance providers.
Medrano requested a laundry-list of credibility checks on Hillyer, reportedly stating that he felt Hillyer was being untruthful. Hillyer, meanwhile, has emphatically denied these allegations and has gone on record stating that he was not legally bound to reveal the name of the company he was recommending.
Where Hillyer may or may not be obligated to disclose such information, Medrano argued that there was no reason for Hillyer not to disclose the name of the insurance company he was recommending to the board.
In an email to his colleagues and the superintendent, Medrano invited, “Please accept…my recommendation…in support of terminating all relations with Mr. Glenn Hillyer as the school district’s Insurance Consultant, effective immediately.”
Medrano offered to make additional research available to his colleagues, which he claimed would help “collaborate my assertions…. I will gladly provide this information at your request.”
Over two weeks have passed since Medrano’s offer, but as of presstime, School Board Vice President Anna Cruz said she had not requested this research from Medrano. When asked why, Cruz had no comment.
Members of the community, however, did have something to say.
Medical professional Chara Kamins said, “I don’t think the [school board] should change insurance [providers. People] that work in the medical field, we have to [handle] insurance companies and deductibles. Patients get upset [when their plans change]. Every time something changes like that, it’s going to [entail] stressful situations for medical facilities. What she did, President Rodriguez, I don’t know why she decided to switch it on everybody [with no warning]. She really should’ve [included] everyone in the system. It was wrong to do it on her own.”
Regarding whether or not Cruz felt Rodriguez should be investigated on account of breaking procedure, Cruz said, “No comment.”
On the same issue, Omar Castro, 20, a San Benito restaurant industry shift leader, said this about Rodriguez: “I feel that it is very unprofessional and un-procedure like, what she’s doing. A leader should follow procedures and be communicative with the City of San Benito.”
When asked if they supported Medrano’s request for an investigation into Rodriguez’s letter and intent, School Board Trustees Fatima Huerta and Hector Leal also refused comment.
Contritely, Henry Peña, 36, who works with the ambulance service of San Benito, said, “As a working citizen for the City of San Benito, I think [Rodriguez] should be investigated. If something of this nature happens in the city, it needs to be dealt with by the commissioners or school board.”
Peña went on to add, “President Rodriguez needs to be investigated. She needs to come forward and say, ‘I did this.’ The outcome may be for the good, may be for the bad, but it’s got to be dealt with.”
Still, Huerta is not convinced an investigation is necessary. “The [May 16] letter was retracted,” Huerta said on whether she supported Medrano’s request to investigate Rodriguez. “Nothing went through.”
But San Benitians did not appear to be quite as forgiving.
Gerardo Gutierrez, 30, a professional massage therapist, said, “It’s not only a school board thing, it’s a public thing. I think [Rodriguez] should be brought to the public, to let us know what her purpose was. We deserve to know what the outcome is going to be.”
Superintendent Limón had no comment on Medrano’s request to investigate Rodriguez. Limón also did not wish to discuss Medrano’s request to immediately fire Hillyer as SBCISD insurance consultant.
At present, Medrano is seeking answers regarding Hillyer’s motivations to recommend the very Salazar Insurance Group Rodriguez broke policy to recommend in May.
Of the same issue, Pedro Villarreal, Jr., 25, who works in the movie industry, said, “Something was going on there. It shouldn’t happen like that. [This] should get checked out. And it is wrong, what happened. Justice needs to be [served] on that school board.”
Even if not all members of the community stand aware of the issues, they still hold a voice. Jim Coppinger, 74, a retired member of the community, admitted, “I really don’t pay much attention to the local stuff, but it sounds like she did something wrong. Breaking procedure isn’t right.”
Board President Yliana G. Rodriguez, Secretary June Aguilera and trustees Julian Huerta and Oscar Medrano were not reachable for comment by presstime.
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