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CalSTRS mum on details of former superintendent’s pension reduction

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POSTED April 2, 2014 12:21 a.m.

The California State Teachers Retirement System has “several means” that it uses to collect leads on specific accounts that need to be scrutinized for such issues as overpayment.

However, they cannot comment on the details of individual instances, such as the case involving the proposed reduction of retired San Joaquin County Office of Education Superintendent Fredrick Wentworth, said CalSTRS spokesman Ricardo Duran.

The four ways by which they get the red flags that an account will “need additional scrutiny,” as itemized by Duran are the following:

• an anonymous tip line that is maintained by CalSTRS,

• an anonymous online form, also maintained by CalSTRS,

• having a CalSTRS Compensation Review Unit which reviews all pension benefits of $100,000 or more, and,

• automated flagging systems that “alert our auditors to irregularities in reporting.”

The projected future savings resulting from the reduction of Wentworth’s monthly pension, according to CalSTRS, is $568,033.20.

That’s a 10-year savings projection, Duran explained.

“It is calculated by deducting the proposed new monthly benefit of $19,577.45 from the current benefit of $24,311.06 to get a monthly difference of $4,733.61. This difference, multiplied by 120 months, is $568,033.20,” he said.

Wentworth is appealing the pension reduction and has asked for a hearing with the state Office of Administrative Hearings. Duran said no date has been set for that hearing. Wentworth has told state officials that he will not be hiring an attorney to represent him at the hearing.

Even as a hearing date is being scheduled, CalSTRS has asked Wentworth to return the $117,040 in overpayment of his pension since he retired in 2010.

Wentworth’s career in education spanned 46 years. He was elected county superintendent in 1991. Prior to his retirement, he spent 18 years with the Manteca Unified School District with the last five years as head of the Regional Occupational Program/Independent Studies at Lindbergh School. In addition, he taught at Manteca High and East Union High.

As superintendent of the San Joaquin County Of Education, he was in charge of overseeing 15 school districts and, along with it, some 155,000 students.

Wentworth’s longtime service at the county level is manifested in the creation and christening of the Dr. Fredrick A. Wentworth Education Service Center on the grounds of the county Office of Education on Arch Road in Stockton. Prior to the building and dedication of this center, the office complex consisted mainly of the Gaylord A. Nelson Education Center named after Wentworth’s predecessor who has also occupied the helm for many years.

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