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It is the responsibility of school districts to ensure that every educational dollar is spent wisely


Whether we are experiencing tough financial times or not, it is the responsibility of school districts to ensure that every educational dollar is spent wisely and appropriately.  This includes employee benefits. Because this is a subject that districts are not always knowledgeable in, they often hire an employee benefits consultant to not only manage the benefits program but also to negotiate with the various insurance carriers in order to obtain the most favorable rates and coverage available. 

Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) did exactly this, but being they are more savvy than most, their story ends with a bit of a different twist…a story where most should take note…a story that comes to an end approximately 7 years later with a settlement in favor of SAUSD of $2.4 million in restitution… a story to take notice of.

Their particular story begins in the year 2000, when the District hired Kirk Montgomery (dba KM Employee Benefits Services) and Bridget Sirkegian, as employee benefits consultants. SAUSD relied on their expertise to keep the District fully informed of all financial transactions involving their employee benefits packages.  However, in 2002-2003, the District began to ask questions and specifically asked for them to reveal any commissions they may have received from the insurance carriers which at that time was Blue Cross.  Montgomery at first refused to furnish the requested information.  When asked again, Montgomery chose to submit a re-typed “refunding calculation” table but with the commission amounts deleted.  Details regarding the hidden commissions began to emerge and SAUSD soon learned they had fallen prey to hidden fees and commissions, which resulted in higher insurance premiums.  In February 2004, the District changed its insurance consultant and sued Montgomery and Sirkegian. 

That brings us to February 2011, seven years later, when the Honorable Dallas Holmes, (Ret.), found that Montgomery and Sirkegian actively concealed the fact that they were receiving commissions from Blue Cross even after they knew that the School District was very concerned about the amount of commissions being paid by insurance carriers.  The judge ordered Montgomery and Sirkegian to re-pay the Santa Ana Unified school District $2,481,399.96 from commissions they were paid over a 39-month period from 2001 to 2004.  Montgomery was ordered to repay $2 million of that penalty and Sirkegian will pay the balance. Kudos to the Santa Ana Unified School District for holding their health and welfare consultants feet to the fire.

We would be remise if we did not include that in 2008 the SAUSD was instrumental in bringing their betrayal to the attention of Assemblyman Jose Solorio (D-Santa Ana) who then authored AB 2589 which requires insurance carriers to report annually to the governing board of a public agency the name, address, and amount of fees and/or commissions that is paid to any agent, broker, or individual relating to the public agency’s group health insurance policy. 

It must also be noted that this is not an isolated incident.  More tragic, is that the question is often not even asked.  Are there hidden cost and/or commissions that your District or Insurance Committees are not aware of?

Here are just a couple of things you can do to prevent this type of situation in your school district:
  • Be actively involved in your Health Insurance Committee and don’t be shy about asking questions.  

  • Each year, submit a formal Relevant & Necessary Information request in reference to AB2589 and the information you have a right to receive

  • Attend health benefits training from the California Education Coalition for Health Care Reform (CECHCR)

  • CSEA has been a partner of (CECHCR) since 2005.  CECHCR is a statewide partnership of management and labor organizations representing the state’s public school and community college districts. Its members are committed to improving health care quality and reducing costs in the state's public education sector through training, education and advocacy.
If you have any questions as to how you make this happen in your school district, please contact the CSEA Labor Relations Representative assigned to your chapter.

Contact Information

ORANGE Field Office
326 W KATELLA AVE #E, ORANGE 92867
Main#: (714) 532-3766
Toll-free: (800) 564-9979
Fax:(714) 771-8412
Use Extensions below with Main or Toll-free #


FIELD DIRECTOR
TIARA COX
Ext: 7120
Direct: (714) 532-7120
tcox@csea.com

SR LABOR REL REP
DANIEL TORRES
Ext: 7137
Direct: (714) 532-7137
dtorres@csea.com

ADMINISTRATIVE SPECIALIST
YVONNE OLMOS
Ext: 7122
Direct: (714) 532-7122
yvonneolmos81@gmail.com

ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
KIMBERLY SLANE
Ext: 7132
Direct: (714) 532-7132
kslane@csea.com


Labor Representatives

ROBERT DEWITZ
Ext: 7128
Direct: (714) 532-7128    
rdewitz@csea.com

ISABELLE FRANZ
Ext: 7138
Direct: (714) 532-7138    
ifranz@csea.com

JASON GEANAKOPOULOS
Ext: 7121
Direct: (714) 532-7121    
jgeanakopoulos@csea.com

AMY GONZALES
Ext: 7133
Direct: (714) 532-7133    
agonzales@csea.com

MICHAEL LEON
Ext: 7124
Direct: (714) 532-7124    
mleon@csea.com

CECILIA LOPEZ
Ext: 7134
Direct: (714) 532-7134    
clopez@csea.com

TIFFANY LOPEZ
Ext: 7135
Direct: (714) 532-7135    
tlopez@csea.com

KARLI NEVAREZ
Ext: 7125
Direct: (714) 532-7125    
knevarez@csea.com

MATTHEW PHUTISATAYAKUL
Ext: 7129
Direct: (714) 532-7129    
mphutisatayakul@csea.com

ANTHONY SOLIS
Ext: 7126
Direct: (714) 532-7126    
asolis@csea.com

ERICA WILLIAMS
Ext: 7123
Direct: (714) 532-7123    
ewilliams@csea.com