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Settlement Agreement Insures Former CFO’s Departure Remains a Mystery

By Jorge Casuso

January 26 -- A nearly $190,000 agreement between the School District and its former Chief Financial Officer Winston Braham will insure that the outgoing official’s take on the district’s fiscal condition and the reasons for his resignation will remain under wraps.

The agreement -- signed December 14 -- came three weeks after Braham submitted a one-sentence “irrevocable letter of resignation” in the wake of a public dispute with Superintendent Dianne Talarico over a teachers’ contract that would put the district in the red. (see story)

Under the settlement agreement, Braham cannot “make comments to any third party concerning the financial condition of the District unless requested to do so by the Superintendent or Governing Board of the district.”

The settlement agreement -- which pays Braham a lump sum of $189,653.94 -- also bars the parties from disclosing the reasons for the CFO's resignation in the middle of a three-year contract that was set to expire on June 30, 2008.

“If asked about this matter or how this matter was resolved, the parties may disclose only that Braham resigned for personal reasons and that ‘the matter was resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties,’ or words of similar import,” the agreement states.

The settlement agreement, which went into effect this month, permits Graham to send to “employees of his department, the Governing Board, and senior management” the following correspondence:

“Dear Colleagues,

“This will serve to inform you that effective immediately, I will resign my post as the Assistant Superintendent for Business Services and CFO. The progress we have made in steadying the business affairs of this District was very much due to your support and kindness.

“It is often said that the singular guarantee in life is change. My two years of dedicated service is at an end. . . and so I move on.”

While it remains unclear why Braham resigned, the decision came shortly after a public rift with Superintendent Talarico over a tentative agreement with the teacher’s union that would all but deplete the district’s nearly $7.3 million in reserves over the next three years.

While Talarico signed the document on October 18 certifying the District’s ability to meet the costs of the agreement submitted to the County Office of Education, Braham put a check mark next to the words, “I am unable to certify.”

Braham’s decision not to sign the document sent a strong message to members of District’s Finance Oversight Committee, who expressed their deep concern that the tentative agreement had been reached without a way of paying for it. (see story)

Membes of the committee said the district will miss the financial expertise and strong connections Braham brought from the Los Angeles Unified School District, where he served as business manager.

Braham was instrumental in the passage of the $268 million bond to renovate and repair the district’s aging schools approved by voters in November. He also helped strike a contract with the City that brings the district at least $6 million in municipal funds a year.

 

 

 

“It is often said that the singular guarantee in life is change. My two years of dedicated service is at an end. . . and so I move on.” Winston Braham's resignation letter approved by District

 

 

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