By MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ
The embattled administrator of the San Benito CISD on-site health clinic fired back days after the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to part ways with him.
Richard Garza, owner of ISD Managed Care Services and provider of on-site health care for the school district’s employees, submitted a 60-day written notice on Thursday informing SBCISD Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ismael Cantu of his resignation. Such action came after the Board voted unanimously during a special Wednesday to provide ISD Managed Care with a 60-day written termination notice.
At the meeting, trustees including Board President Yliana González, Secretary June Aguilera, Oscar Medrano and Anna Cruz expressed concern with an Internal Revenue Service lien in excess of $315,000 that was placed on the district’s future payments to Garza.
Garza contended on Friday that the lien was actually received by another company he owns, PI Medical Clinic in Port Isabel. Still, although SBCISD Business Manager Emma McCall confirmed Wednesday that the district received a release of levy from the IRS, trustees raised concerns with the financial stability of a company charged with the implementation of health care services for the district.
Specifically, González requested documentation from Garza that would substantiate his efforts to resolve the lien. Garza said he was open to providing whatever financial information is necessary regarding ISD Managed Care but expressed hesitance in divulging information he perceived as personal documents, citing fear that said information would be disclosed to the media.
Medrano expressed concerns with a text message he said the Board received from Cantu informing the trustees that Garza could not meet his financial obligations to the IRS.
Cruz also reiterated a recommendation she said SBCISD attorney Tony Torres made last summer, when Garza’s tax troubles with the IRS then led to a notice of levy being placed on the district in the amount of $60,000, to terminate the ISD Managed Care’s services.
In the notice Garza provided the district on Thursday, he credited ISD Managed Care for the doubling of clinic visits, increased services, millions of dollars in savings to the district and hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings to employees.
But Garza was also critical of certain individuals, alleging that his company’s “rights have been compromised and we have experienced vendor retaliation by administration and board members.”
Garza specifically charged that McCall was untruthful with Cantu and the Board about an IRS agent leaving a message on her phone informing that ISD Managed Care could not “meet their IRS obligation.” He further alleged that McCall delayed his payments, instigated rumors about him that incurred the retaliation of the Board and lied about Garza falsifying documents.
“I got two recordings of the agent,” McCall said, adding, “The agent left me a message and doubted he’d (Garza would) be able to meet the requirements, so that’s when I texted Dr. Cantu and told him that Richard was not able to meet his obligation, according to the IRS.”
Concerning Garza’s accusations that McCall delayed his payments and lied to the Board for the purposes of instigating retaliation against Garza, McCall responded, “I didn’t pay him because I was waiting on the IRS. I’m not one to pick up the phone and call board members. If they ask me questions, I will tell them what I have.”
Furthermore, McCall said she has reason to believe that certain documentation Garza provided to the district was not be substantiated.
“I’m not lying,” McCall said. “I know (Garza’s) upset, but I’m just doing my job.”
Regarding McCall’s denial that she was untruthful about an IRS agent leaving her a message that doubted Garza could meet his obligations, Garza retorted, “I know for a fact that is a flat-out lie, and as a matter of fact she said she received the message on the phone and forwarded a text to Dr. Cantu. He sent out a text (to the Board) and said that he stood behind Emma McCall providing him inaccurate information.”
In addition to his allegations that McCall retaliated against him, Garza accused Cruz of damaging ISD Managed Care “by making false statements against vendor business practices” in a Nov. 5, 2013 article in another local newspaper. The article in question reported that Cruz accused Garza and SBCISD insurance consultant Glenn Hillyer of “illegally signing preferred provider organization contracts that (former SBCISD Interim Superintendent Alfonso) Obregón must sign.”
It’s an allegation Cruz emphatically denied.
“That was not a comment I made,” Cruz said of the newspaper article. “The person that made that comment was Tony Torres, the attorney, during a workshop. I don’t want to get in a he said, she said, but the newspaper made it look like it came from me. In fact, I talked to the newspaper about that.”
Continuing what amounted to a number of accusations made against Cruz and Medrano, Garza alleged that said board members “released privileged documents, received in board package, to media.” Garza said these documents were “confidential ISD Managed Care Services financial documents that had been received by administration and disseminated to board and not released by open records act.”
Medrano said, “I didn’t send out anything. I don’t know what he’s talking about. That’s crazy.”
Cruz responded, “He needs to take responsibility for his own actions. I’m not responsible for him not paying his taxes or responsible for him not resolving his issues with the IRS. Him resigning is his decision. Tony Torres recommended last year to the board to terminate [Garza] since the first incident with the IRS. We’re getting legal advice from an attorney to do what’s right.”
What’s more, Garza questioned other matters he believes involve Medrano, alleging that the board member has “created concerns and lies” to damage ISD Managed Care, reasoning that Medrano’s employer stands to gain after losing the on-site health clinic contract to Garza’s company.
The following are verbatim accusations that Garza made against Medrano sans editing.
“HCA, Mr. Medrano employer, was being fined over a billion dollars for fraudulent healthcare practices, while they had the administration contract for the SBCISD On-Site Clinic and Mr. Medrano had no concerns about the vendor. Mr. Medrano employer over billed the district over $225,000 and his employer is currently suing the district and Mr. Medrano has no concerns for the district. Falsified concerns generated by rumors have impacted ISD Managed Care Services and its ability to advance our business development.”
In his rebuttal, Medrano said, “I don’t even work for HCA anymore. I was released and don’t work for them anymore. And secondly, of course I have concerns. I’ve had concerns all along, but Mr. Garza forgets that he has the majority of the board and made the mistake the first time and was hired back. The second time it was a majority vote. I have nothing to do with HCA. I just worked there for a while. He’s just making excuses. The majority four (board members) voted to fire him too.”
Other charges Garza made involved allegations that he was forced to hire an administrator’s relative, grant an increase in pay for said relative and provide full coverage insurance for his staff lest face repercussions. When asked for the identity of the administrator in question, Garza said, “I’ll be honest with you. I’d rather not state her name at this time, and the reason being is that the district is aware of who that individual is.”
Cantu was unavailable for comment on these matters as of presstime Friday.