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High-paid school official suspended
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LAWNDALE (AP) — The superintendent of a small Southern California school district who makes more than the president of the United States has been put on administrative leave while his salary is reviewed.

The Centinela Valley Union High School District’s board voted 5-0 to suspend Jose Fernandez pending the investigation’s outcome.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the action came after school board members met with Fernandez behind closed doors Wednesday night for nearly three hours.

Fernandez’s annual salary of $674,559 prompted outrage among parents and teachers when it was reported in February by the Torrance Daily Breeze. There were calls for his resignation and threats of a school board recall if he didn’t leave.

“If they have finally seen the light and move to remove him, we might reassess the situation,” said Jack Foreman, the local teachers union president.

As superintendent, Fernandez oversees three high schools in the Los Angeles suburbs of Hawthorne and Lawndale. The campuses have a combined enrollment of about 6,600 students.

Los Angeles Schools Superintendent John Deasy, who oversees more than 1,000 schools with an enrollment of more than 640,000 students, is paid $393,106 a year. President Obama’s annual salary is $400,000.

After his salary was disclosed, Fernandez said he was willing to take a pay cut. He said he hoped to work that out at a school board meeting scheduled for next week.

“I’m just disappointed that I wasn’t able to work out an agreement with them,” he told the Times on Thursday. He didn’t say how much less he was willing to take.

Fernandez didn’t immediately respond Friday to phone and email messages left by The Associated Press.

The superintendent’s contract doesn’t expire until June 30, 2016. It requires that if he is fired without cause, it must be by a vote of four of the five school board members and that he must receive 18 months’ severance pay.