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Montebello School Board Places Superintendent and Chief Financial Operations Officer on Administrative Leave




(l-r) President Ben Cardenas, VP Lani Cupchoy, Hector Chacon, Edgar Cisneros, and Joanna Flores.

(l-r) President Ben Cardenas, VP Lani Cupchoy, Clerk Hector Chacon, Edgar Cisneros, and Joanna Flores.


Hector Chacon resigns as Clerk of the Board.

By Brian Hews


Cleve Pell


Susanna Contreras-Smith

A raucous standing room only crowd that spilled out in to the lobby gathered this morning at a special meeting of the Montebello Unified School District Board to protest the imminent firing of Superintendent Susana Contreras-Smith and Chief Financial Operations Officer Cleve Pell.

Board President Ben Cardenas, a good friend of ABC Board Member Lynda Johnson, and a man whom Johnson once called a “great leader” who keeps “his” superintendent on his toes, was instrumental in the firing.

As  called to approve the day’s agenda, Board Clerk Hector Chacon said, “I opposed the agenda.”

Over 20 MUSD teachers and staff angrily and passionately protested the firing of Pell and Contreras, speaking on the many accomplishments the two have achieved.

Some even broke down into tears, but most of the time it was anger.

Former Montebello Treasurer and federal prosecutor Charlie Pell, who’s dad is Cleve Pell, blasted the Board for their actions. “There is no legal notice, you legally cannot take action today because Mr. Pell is an officer of the MUSD,” Pell said.

He went on, “where is the emergency, this is in no way an emergency meeting. The transparency and timing of this meeting looks very bad.”

Clerk of the Board Hector Chacon took the unusual step of speaking after the public comments. He too was concerned about the meeting.

“An emergency meeting?” Where is the emergency, there was no earthquake.”

Chacon blasted the Board saying, “Everything has to do with the bond (Measure GS) getting passed, basically it is about the money. I am hereby tendering my resignation as Clerk of the Board in protest, I am not going to sign anything that comes from this Board.”

The board members subsequently adjourned to closed session and voted 5-0 to place the two on administrative leave.

Sources also told HMG-CN that the Board  appointed Anthony Martinez as interim superintendent.