By FRANCISCO E. JIMENEZ Staff Writer repo…@sbnewspaper.com
The Salazar Insurance Group (SIG) was selected Tuesday by the San Benito CISD Board of Trustees as the new insurance agents handling the voluntary and major medical plans for the school district, replacing former agent Bob Trevino Insurance, who had served in such capacity for approximately 12 years.
“………..consultant Glenn Hillyer recommended for one agent to handle both the voluntary and major medical plans, which ended up being SIG”
A motion was made by Board Secretary June Aguilera and second by Board Member Fatima Huerta before passed with a vote by Board President Yliana G. Rodriguez and Board Member Julian Huerta. Board Vice-President Anna Cruz and fellow trustees Oscar Medrano and Hector Leal voted against the motion.
Aguilera cited problems with Treviño involving “more than 200 people not being signed up” for insurance and for allegedly not being aware that they were not being insured.
“That’s where the problem came up,” said Aguilera when questioned about the agenda item by Medrano. “They are not providing their services. My problem with them is if we’re paying them to do a job, then they need to do it in a timely manner. They were taking so long to sign up people, and yet they forgot 250 people, and they weren’t completed. If we’re paying for a service, then that service needs to be given to our employees.”
Medrano said he was unaware of the complaints alleged against Treviño and questioned Risk Manager Janie Gonzalez if she was aware of as much, to which she replied that she was indeed aware.
“We’ve had some ongoing issues with enrollment, and this year was by far the most challenging,” said Business Manager Emma McCall. “In the past, if there were some problems, Janie (Gonzalez) and Lucy (Garcia) dealt with it and got it taken care of. This year a lot of things fell through the cracks.”
“My biggest thing is that we’re paying somebody else to do a job for the district,” said Aguilera. “Ultimately, we’re paying Janie and Lucy to do their job, and on top of that they shouldn’t be doing something that we’re paying someone else to do. That’s my thing.”
Cruz presented an email from Treviño in which he claimed that as of March 15, all pending insurance issues had been resolved.
“We have attempted to follow up with Janie Gonzalez to get the list of the 200-plus employees without coverage,” Cruz read from Treviño’s correspondence, reading further, “To this date we have not received the list.”
Gonzalez argued that she presented an email proving that a response had been submitted.
“We did get that correspondence,” said Rodriguez. “My concern, similar to Ms. Aguilera’s, is that generally districts try to enroll their employees so that come October 1 they are fully insured if they have to go with any plan that they want. We’re in March. That letter is dated March 5. If our concerns had not surfaced, then the problem would be ongoing. Why does it take the board to surface these issues when that’s their job? They’re getting paid a pretty penny to provide the job that we’re requesting, and yet we’re not getting it.”
“I checked with Lucy today, and as of 4 o’clock, we still have ongoing issues with them,” said Gonzalez. “We receive a list every day.”
Gonzalez further alleged that 50 cases remain unresolved.
“I just don’t buy it,” said Medrano when Gonzalez said she received phone calls from employees on a daily basis.
“I saw the same list that Janie got today with about 40 or 50 names on there,” said Superintendent Antonio G. Limón.
Later in the discussion, Leal acknowledged that there were problems with Bob Treviño and tried to offer his own solution by requesting that the board approve First Financial, citing its endorsement by TASB (Texas Association of School Boards) and lack of ties with any current board members so as to avoid a negative image that may be perceived by the public should trustees have chosen SIG.
Leal was referring to the May 2012 letter signed by Rodriguez announcing a change in the district’s current insurance agent, dropping Treviño in favor of immediately instating Robert Champion Jr. of SIG. The board president rescinded the letter, which Ronald Rowell of the Texas Education Agency (TEA) said contained actions that needed “…to be voted on by the board” and that the “letter written by the board president doesn’t have the authority needed to give this responsibility to the person and insurance company named in the letter.”
Members of the community, including Medrano, have since expressed outrage over Rodriguez’ actions in signing the letter and have called for an investigation into the matter.
Still, First Financial did not submit qualifications for the major medical plan, and consultant Glenn Hillyer recommended for one agent to handle both the voluntary and major medical plans, which ended up being SIG, the group that received the highest ranking by a committee tasked by Limón to complete such rankings.
Also on the agenda was the summative evaluation of Limón’’ contract, but Rodriguez recommended they table the item until the next regular board meeting. The motion was made by Aguilera and second by Fatima Huerta.
Editor’s Note: Mulebriar says it has never been easier to connect the dots at San Benito ISD. The new TPA will be recommended at the next district meeting according to Mulebriar’s sources.