San Benito ISD On-Site Clinic Saga Continues – Oops, Your Terminated!


Despite support from the board’s four-member majority, trustees voted 4-1 this week to give ISD Managed Care Services a two-month termination notice.

By FERNANDO DEL VALLE Valley Morning Star  Valley Morning Star

SAN BENITO — At least two school board members say trustees did not intend to terminate the contract of the district’s health clinic administrator.
Despite administrator Richard Garza’s support from the board’s four-member majority, trustees voted 4-1 this week to give his firm, ISD Managed Care Services, a two-month termination notice.

The vote came more than two weeks after the U.S. Internal Revenue Service placed a lien on the district, demanding payment of $59,000 in delinquent taxes owed by the clinic.

Board member Oscar Medrano said the district paid the taxes, deducting the amount from Garza’s account.

In a heated meeting Tuesday night, board President Yliana Gonzalez read a list of items on the meeting’s action agenda that included a sixth entry that stated: “Discussion/possible action to provide ISD Managed Care Services with a 60-day written termination notice.”

The following item read, “Discussion/possible action to authorize administration to request proposals for on-site primary care health clinics.”

Because board members did not request discussion of the item that called for Garza’s contract termination, they effectively voted 5-0 to approve the contract’s termination.

But board member June Aguilera called for discussion of the next item that called on the district to request proposals from firms to operate the clinic.

After Medrano told Aguilera that the board had approved the contract’s termination, trustees voted 4-1 to request proposals for an administrator, with Aguilera casting the dissenting vote.

Aguilera, who said she had intended to vote against the contract’s termination, said she voted against a request for proposals because she wanted Garza to keep his contract.

The votes stunned many in the audience.

“I was amazed,” Garza said Thursday. “I was totally surprised. You would assume as an existing vendor I would keep my contract.”

In an interview, Medrano said the board’s four-member majority had intended to vote against the contract’s termination but confusion led trustees to mistakenly vote to terminate Garza’s contract.

“They didn’t intend to terminate,” Medrano said. “It’s a mess.”

Aguilera said a hearing problem prevented her from hearing Gonzalez read the wording of the item that called for the contract’s termination.

“I was very upset because I missed it,” Aguilera said Thursday. “I feel it was confusion and miscommunication. I didn’t feel Richard (Garza) deserved to lose his job. Since he took over, the clinic has gotten a lot better. The clinic has provided good service to the district.”

Aguilera said her iPad contained the agenda’s information but the computer was “acting up” during the meeting. As Gonzalez read items on the action agenda, the iPad was rebooting so she could not read the agenda items, Aguilera said.

Aguilera said her agenda’s hard copy was under Gonzalez’s paperwork.

“Definitely, in the future, I’ll have my iPad and full board package,” Aguilera said.

Gonzalez denied confusion led the board to mistakenly vote to terminate the contract.

“There was no intention beforehand,” Gonzalez said of any board plan to vote against the contract’s termination.

Gonzalez said the votes “stand” but she would consider giving the contract back to Garza.

“He is doing a good job,” Gonzalez said. “All RFPs (request for proposals) submitted will be considered. We’re not going to disregard anything.”

Garza said he would submit a proposal.

“I definitely will bid,” Garza said. “I am very proud of what we’ve done as innovators of managed care.”

Aguilera said the board would reconsider its vote to terminate Garza’s contract.

“It will be brought back to the board,” Aguilera said. “We need to address this.”

Aguilera noted the clinic provides health services to the district’s 1,800 employees.

“We need teachers and staff to know what’s happening,” Aguilera said.

Glenn Hillyer, the district’s insurance consultant, noted the clinic will play a central role in the district’s new managed health care program that will go into effect Oct. 1.

“My hope is they’ll reconsider it,” Hillyer said of the vote to terminate Garza’s contract. “I support the job that Richard’s done. Most of the board has been supportive of Richard in the past. I think they made a mistake. Everybody makes mistakes.”