Cameron School Superintendent under scrutiny re: $50,000 check - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Cameron School Superintendent under scrutiny re: $50,000 check

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The Cameron School Superintendent got a $50,000 check last December -- and she says she's due another. That amid concerns raised by at least one school board member and a citizen turned whistle blower.

Cameron School Superintendent Stephanie Rodrigue says she received some pay raises she didn't take when times were hard and that now, she is entitled to that money. One check for about $50,000 was issued a day or so after Christmas, last December.

"I felt pretty confident by 2012, the end of 2012, we'd be in a better financial position. So, I chose to defer the increase, the difference, the salary difference, for that time," said Rodrigue.

"It was recommended that for tax purposes, it be paid in two payments, and that's what occurred.  So, the payroll department issued me one half of the deferred pay that I was owed," she said.

Rodrigue says there was nothing improper about receiving the check. In fact, she says she's due another $50,000.

"It was due to be paid this month and apparently, if there's any additional questions, I'll be happy to answer them at the next meeting and I can again defer taking that payment until any other questions might be asked that can certainly be answered. It's all board approved action," she said.

Concerned citizen Teddy Broussard doesn't like the smell of it and says he's not been able to find anything in meeting minutes okaying the check.

"I felt like the board, if the board was agreeing to all of this, then they were dysfunctional. This was not the way I knew of board members in Cameron Parish to do business," said Broussard.

School board member Tracy Carter is also concerned.

"There was nothing in the minutes to authorize it and it was done on December 26, is when the check was written, which nobody's in the office on the 26th, payroll went out the 20th because of the Christmas holiday, so it' looked suspicious," said Carter.

Carter says the public is upset.

"People are angry. It's a lot of money for it to not be authorized. It looks suspicious. Even if it was legitimate it should have been handled differently," Carter said.

Rodrigue has this response: "It didn't go to the board for another approval. They had previously approved the salary and the salary increases."

Still, Carter and Broussard not only question the $50,000 check, they question Rodrigue's superintendent salary and how it has escalated from $83,000 in 2007 to $138,000 today in a school district with only four schools and 1,200 students.

"There's 1,200 students and four schools. I just think it's gone too far. Her salary is higher than Governor Jindal's salary," said Carter.

As well, they are concerned whether raises and amounts have been properly vetted to school board members and the public. For instance, the last contract raising Rodrigue to $138,000. It was signed by the board president, but Carter says she  never saw it.

"It's a little disturbing. We're supposed to oversee what's going on and we're left out of the  loop," said Carter.

Rodrigue says none of the board members asked to review her current contract, other than the president who signed it. She says the board approved the terms and the president of the board executed the contract.

Broussard says the State Police, Legislative Auditor, the State Attorney General and Ethics Board have been contacted about the salary and contract issues along with other concerns.

State police say they are considering whether an investigation is warranted. The legislative auditor and ethics board do not discuss allegations presented to them.

To hear more of Rodrigue's explanation about the growth of her salary, look for the web extra at kplctv.com

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