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Bellflower Schools Chief Unexpectedly Put on Leave : Education: Board members will not explain their action. They will discuss the superintendent's contract this week.

July 18, 1993|PSYCHE PASCUAL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Bellflower schools Supt. George H. Bloch has been ordered to take a paid leave of absence by the school board, which is scheduled to discuss his contract this week, officials said.

The board refused to discuss Bloch's performance or his sudden leave. They took the action during closed session last week, and questions were directed to the district's lawyer, Eric Bathen.

"George did not contest it. He agreed to go and not exercise his responsibilities as a superintendent," Bathen said.

Assistant Supt. Rebecca Turrentine was asked to manage the district temporarily.

Bloch was was hired three years ago to head the 10,000-student Bellflower Unified School District. He is paid $90,000 a year.

Bloch could not be reached for comment. He will remain on paid administrative leave pending a decision on his contract, which was scheduled to expire in June, 1996, Bathen said. The board is scheduled to consider the matter Wednesday.

"We need to come to a decision," trustee Harold Carman said.

Before taking the Bellflower job, Bloch worked as superintendent of instruction at the Huntington Beach Union High School District.

With the exception of Carman, the board that asked Bloch to go on leave is the same group that hired him in July, 1990. The superintendent is evaluated every year, and last year, board members agreed to extend his contract, Bathen said.

Although Bloch oversaw cutbacks last year of more than $500,000, the school system this year remained on firm financial ground, officials said.

Last month, the Bellflower school board passed a $45-million budget without cuts in educational programs or layoffs, said Michael O'Bric, assistant superintendent for business services.

Bellflower teachers have been frustrated because they have been working without a contract for more than a year, said Wilma Springer, president of the Bellflower Educators Assn. But she said she did not know why Bloch was asked to take a leave.

Parents and representatives of groups that represent school employees said there was no public indication of dissatisfaction with Bloch.

"It seemed like it surprised everyone," said Cheryl Stejskal, president of the local chapter of the California School Employees Assn., which represents non-teaching workers.

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