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More finance questions at East Aurora board meeting

Updated: March 22, 2013 10:09AM

AURORA — He’s been gone for five months, but concerned citizens say questions still remain about Finance Director Jay Augustine’s abrupt retirement at the East Aurora School District.

At the East Aurora School Board meeting Tuesday night, Ralph Padron of Naperville, husband of retired East Aurora teacher Lorryl Denny, asked why Augustine was allowed to retire from the district after financial issues surfaced.

After a series of financial discrepancies — including insurance issues — were discovered, Augustine unexpectedly announced he would retire effective immediately in late September 2012. Earlier that month, Augustine submitted paperwork to retire in November 2012.

“The name Jay Augustine surfaces whenever the health insurance or utility bill issues are discussed. The fallout from all of this will be with us for years,” Padron said.

Padron asked why Augustine was allowed to retire instead of being put on administrative leave or fired from the post when finance secretary Penny Halvax, the district’s insurance coordinator, was fired from the district.

“Jay betrayed the trust of the taxpayers, district and the community and was rewarded with a retirement package,” Padron said.

East Aurora School Board President Annette Johnson said Augustine had a right to retire.

“That was his prerogative. Not mine, not the superintendent’s. He decided to retire, plain and simple,” Johnson said.

After the meeting, Johnson said that Augustine’s quick retirement was a surprise to Roberts.

“(On the day) that the insurance company called, (Augustine) by noon, he comes in and retires to Dr. Roberts. That was it,” Johnson said.

East Aurora School Board member Ray Hull disagreed Tuesday night.

“The superintendent gave Jay the option to retire. He was given the option to resign, and he resigned,” Hull said.

In September, then-East Aurora spokesman Clayton Muhammad said that it was mutually decided between Augustine and Roberts to accept his retirement.

Augustine has not returned calls for comment.

Retiree insurance

Although the School Board opted to delay a vote on a proposed revision that would have affected retiree insurance rates earlier this month, retired East Aurora teacher Lorryl Denny again Tuesday night asked why retired teachers only had two weeks to weigh their insurance options.

“Exactly what is the status of retirees for this current policy?” she asked.

Retired East Aurora teacher Alison King of Geneva asked that retired teachers be “grandfathered in” — that currently retired teachers be allowed to stay on the district’s plan despite the change in rules.

Johnson said that the district earlier this month received so many questions from retired teachers that they were unable to respond by this meeting. She said that no policy exists to dictate when the district must respond to questions asked at board meetings and that Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Joan Glotzbach has been inundated with Freedom of Information Act requests.

Johnson said the School Board should have an open session with retired teachers to address insurance questions, and that she is proud of the district’s transparency.

“The word ‘transparency’ — that is this board,” Johnson said.

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