Edward Velasquez listens during a 2015 San Ysidro School District board meeting, where he served as interim superintendent. (Megan Wood/inewsource)
Edward Velasquez listens during a 2015 San Ysidro School District board meeting, where he served as interim superintendent. (Megan Wood/inewsource)

Edward Velasquez was in Idaho when the San Ysidro School Board voted Thursday night to make him the district’s latest interim superintendent. The retired Los Angeles educator also served in that role for five months in 2015 when the district was facing bankruptcy and a state takeover.

“That’s news to me,” he told inewsource when reached on the phone after the vote was announced.

The school board voted 3-2 during a closed session to hire Velasquez for three months, with the option to review his contract monthly. Board members Antonio Martinez and Irene Lopez opposed the choice.

Velasquez said district officials had asked him about taking the interim post, but he was still waiting for the details.

“They had called me and asked if I’d be interested, but we had to work out some terms,” he said.

Under the terms of current interim Superintendent Mary Willis’ contract, she makes $1,000 a day, but her salary is capped at $42,000. She accepted the interim post in November, and Thursday’s meeting was her last official day on the job, a district spokesman said.

The troubled district has had much turnover in its top spot. Velasquez will be the eighth superintendent since 2013, including the previous time he held the post. During his earlier stint in the district, he was credited with helping to stabilize its precarious finances.

He was succeeded by Julio Fonseca, who was hired to be the district’s permanent superintendent in July 2015. Fonseca and his top deputy, Jose Arturo Sanchez-Macias, who briefly served as interim superintendent, abruptly resigned last year. State authorities are investigating payments made to the two men.

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When the district was looking last year for an interim superintendent, Velasquez told inewsource a board member had asked him if he would be interested in the job. He declined, he said, and instead recommended Willis.

Velasquez and Willis are part of a small group of former L.A.-area administrators who have previously crossed paths. Both worked together at school districts in Montebello and Lynwood, where Velasquez was superintendent. He hired Willis on a contract when he was previously interim superintendent in San Ysidro.

He also was the interim superintendent of schools for the San Diego County Office of Education in 2016, before he was replaced by Paul Gothold — another former Velasquez subordinate in Montebello and Lynwood.

Velasquez steps into the district as it awaits the completion of a state “extraordinary audit” requested by Gothold into payments made to Fonseca and Sanchez-Macias. The district is also continuing its search for a permanent superintendent. The public will be invited to comment on that process at a March 14 community meeting.

“The most important thing is that they need to find a superintendent,” Velasquez said.

The board will vote on Velasquez’s contract, including his salary, at the district’s regularly scheduled April 12 board meeting, district spokesman Francisco Mata said Friday in a news release.

Mata told inewsource Velasquez will likely start working at the district before his contract is ratified.

NOTE: This story was updated at 11:30 a.m. Friday with details about the interim superintendent’s contract.

Related stories…

Why East L.A. educators have been running the troubled San Ysidro School District
When the San Ysidro school board hired Mary Willis as its interim superintendent in November, she became the seventh person to lead the troubled district since 2013. She was also the fourth to have ties to school districts in the East Los Angeles area.
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Leonardo Castañeda was a reporter and economic analyst for inewsource. To contact him with tips, suggestions or corrections, please email leocastaneda [at] inewsource [dot] org.