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By Brian Hews
It looks like the dysfunction at Montebello Unified School District is finally coming to a head.
Hews Media Group-Community News has obtained two Notices of Intention to Circulate a Recall Petition (Notices) filed to recall MUSD Board member Ben Cardenas and Board President Lani Cupchoy.
It is the first step in the recall process; the next step is for the proponents of the recall to gather enough qualified signatures within the district, and then schedule a special election, possibly for August.
As it stands, the County needs to certify the signatures on the Notices and then allow seven days for Cardenas and Cupchoy to respond.
The proponents must gather at least 10,000 signatures within 120 days; county officials must verify all signatures before the election can be scheduled.
The recall document slammed Cardenas as a “crook, thief, and career politician. He’s not even from Montebello, Bell Gardens, or Montebello schools. In backroom deals, he gave away millions in public school money to friends in construction, lawyers, and consultants. After wasting millions to pay off political buddies and special interest, nothings is left for our children.”
“Cardenas wasted millions of taxpayer dollars, giving away $14 million in just one shady contract to hire his friend’s company as a consultant. Cardenas heartlessly voted to layoff hundreds of teachers and school employees.”
“Cardenas’ violated California’s open meeting laws by making secret deals behind closed doors. He tried to stop public speaking at meetings by ordering police officers to be present. Cardenas bullied students and parents.”
The document ended, “Cardenas disrespected teachers, school employees, and parents. Cardenas violated union rules by hiring his good friend Rueben Rojas to be Chief Business Officer, even though Rojas doesn’t have a college degree, lied on his job application, and used fake documents with forgeries.”
HMG-CN was first to report in an comprehensive investigative report that Rueben Rojas was a complete fraud, the story was later shamelessly picked up by the Whittier Daily News and writer Hayley Munguia without attribution to HMG-CN.
The recall document for Lani Cupchoy was similar in tone and violations leveled in the Cardenas notice.
“Cupchoy wastes public school money meant for students. She misused school funds to pay family members and friends her pet projects: for gardens, photos of herself, her movie, and other improper expenditures.”
“Cupchoy targets school employees giving the Superintendent a hit list to fire teachers, administrators, and classified employees. She tried to remove good employees so she could hire her friends and financial contributors. Cupchoy heartlessly voted to lay off hundreds of teachers and school employees.”
“Cupchoy lied about her background. She claims she was a teacher in three districts, when really she was a teacher’s assistant. She brags about being a professor at Cal State LA, while in reality she’s a part-time lecturer. Cupchoy paraded around in a Ph.D gown at various MUSD graduations before actually receiving her degree.”
“Cupchoy is a bad role model for our children. Besides her dishonesty, she posted inappropriate pictures of herself on the Internet. Cupchoy supports Rueben Rojas a proven fraud who is directly responsible for many problems MUSD currently faces.”
HMG-CN exclusively reported in 2013 that Cupchoy had never voted in an election, either general or local, in her lifetime.
Many MUSD employees have already asked the proponents how they can help in gathering signatures, which is the most expensive part of the recall process for proponents.
HMG-CN contacted one of the signers on the document asking why they want to recall just months before a MUSD election.
“It’s obvious, if we don’t do something now, we will be screwed. They will spend the $300 million (bond money), we need to stop them now.”
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