Paul Haas, a candidate for Nevada County Superintendent of Schools, was fired in 2012 from a vocational charter school organization where he served as a principal due to accusations of fraud, according to public documents obtained by The Union.
Court documents state that in July 2009, Haas began working as a principal for Sacramento Academic and Vocational Academy (SAVA), a school managed by Gateway Community Charters (GCC), a nonprofit public benefit corporation that creates charter schools in Sacramento County. He was paid an annual salary of $86,625, according to public documents.
In June 2012, Haas was fired from the position after GCC accused him of “fraud, misrepresentation, and conspiring with subordinate employees to document and approve compensation” for teachers that they did not earn, as page 102 of the attached documents state.
Haas, though, says the accusations were not valid.
“I was accused of paying teachers for work that they did not do, which is not true. I was wrongly accused of that,” Haas said.
Haas said that as a principal, he managed more than 1,000 students located on different campuses. Each school, Haas said, followed an independent study model, where teachers made appointments with their students on campus or a neutral site to learn their lessons on specific times and days.
As the principal, Haas said he would sign off on all teacher schedules to verify when individual students were served.
“They were saying that certain students weren’t served, but they were, and they claimed (Average Daily Attendance) for them, they claimed the money for them,” Haas said. “That’s why I was surprised that these were the terms that they used on my release. I was surprised that they accused me of fraud.”
According to a court document, GCC said Haas signed documents confirming that students were taught on days that they actually were not.
While Haas denies those claims, he did not file a wrongful termination complaint against GCC.
“I chose not to go after a wrongful termination because I wasn’t coming back anyway,” Haas said. “I had already said that I wasn’t coming back and chose not to go after wrongful termination,”
Haas added, “There are other wrongful termination suits that are currently against that same organization that don’t involve me. I really can’t speak to those.”
Court documents, though, state that in December 2012, Haas filed a claim with the Labor Commissioner’s Office against GCC alleging that the organization failed to give Haas his final paycheck the day he was terminated. California labor law requires that an employer give a terminated employee a final paycheck immediately or pay waiting time penalties of one day’s pay for each day the employer is late, up to a maximum of 30 days.
Haas also claimed GCC did not give him proper mileage reimbursement during his last month of work.
The Labor Commission awarded Haas close to $12,000 for the complaint, as page 169 of the attached court documents indicates.
As a result of GCC’s accusations against Haas, a notification was sent to the teacher credentials committee, but no action was taken, Haas said.
Haas added that after he was fired by GCC, he filed for unemployment and testified about his termination.
“During that period, the administration law justice said that I did not commit fraud,” Haas said.
Haas said the Labor Commission’s judgment has been appealed by GCC and is under review again.
“This is the final stop, and this is on basically the argument that they are not a school district, they are a corporation, an LLC, and that they needed to follow labor code,” Haas said. “That means you needed to pay me upon termination, which they didn’t.”
GCC could not be reached for comment.
Haas, a reporter for KNCO radio, filed to run for Nevada County superintendent of schools against incumbent Holly Hermansen last month and has previously told The Union that his biggest concern as a candidate is how money has been spent in schools across the county.
“I’m not guilty of fraud,” Haas said.
“I’m not guilty of what I was accused of and I am a good person. I’m an honest person and a hard-working person.”
To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.