Colorado

Sep 24, 2009 9:05 PM by Bea Karnes, David Ortiviz, Greg Boyce

Cesar Chavez Network founders put on paid leave

The founders of the Cesar Chavez Network have been put on paid administrative leave. Dr. Lawrence Hernandez and his wife Annette got the news Thursday morning at Cesar Chavez Academy.

A dispute over the leadership and finances boiled-over to the point that police were called to the charter school. Cesar Chavez Academy Board President Dennis Feuerstein says Dr. Hernandez was upset, but left the property peacefully. "He was here and he was upset and at this point he is not allowed on the premise until we finish the investigation," said Feuerstein. "We asked the Pueblo Police Department to show up in case we had to have (Hernandez) escorted out, but he and Annette left on their own," said Feuerstein.

Lawrence and Annette Hernandez, along with a third administrator Velia Rincon, were
placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of two state investigations; one into alleged cheating on standardized tests and the other an audit of finances.

"We felt in the best interest of Dr. Hernandez and Annette to protect them, that this was in there best interest. At this time I don't think they think so," said Feuerstein.

"I'm extremely disappointed in our Board president. First of all he has no legal authority to put me on administrative leave," said Dr. Lawrence Hernandez, CEO and founder of the Cesar Chavez Network.

"When I was leaving the school today, I felt like I was leaving my child behind," said Annette Hernandez, with tears in her eyes. The Hernandez couple invited the media into their home to express their disappointment with the situation.

In 2001, Annette and Lawrence Hernandez created the Cesar Chavez Academy, with roughly 280 students. Today, the network has grown to five schools and close to 3,000 students.

Lawrence Hernandez says during that time he's had one true regret. "The biggest mistake we ever made, I really believe, is becoming so big and so popular because I think if we were a mediocre quiet school, no one would give a hoot about what we do," said Hernandez.

A CCA board meeting will be held Friday afternoon to discuss removing Dr. Lawrence Hernandez as CEO of the Cesar Chavez Network. The meeting start at 3 p.m. at Dolores Huerta Preparatory High.

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