The Public Eye

Reports from the Bee's investigative team

August 11, 2010
School group fears it may lose members

California School Boards Association President Frank Pugh wrote to school board members Wednesday that he is worried about membership renewals and pledged that the nonprofit will be more transparent in the future.

Pugh's letter is in response to criticism the organization received over Executive Director Scott Plotkin's annual pay. Plotkin announced last month he would retire Sept. 1 after admitting he used his company credit card to withdraw cash from area casinos while receiving a half-million-dollar salary in the 2007-2008 fiscal year.

According to two tax filings, which CSBA made available to its members, it appeared Plotkin had received two $175,000 bonuses that tipped his salary well over $500,000 in 2007 and 2008.

CSBA spokeswoman Brittany McKannay said that bonus was awarded once but was duplicated on tax filings after the organization stopped filing for the fiscal year and moved to a calendar year. McKannay said the $175,000 bonus was awarded in June 2008 and "therefore was required to be reported in both."

The tax filings show Plotkin's salary in 2007-2008 was $540,395, including the bonus.

The 2008-2009 filing showed Plotkin's total compensation was $563,333, which also included a $175,000 bonus.

"Scott Plotkin was not rewarded the $175,000 bonus twice," McKannay said. His actual compensation for the two years, therefore, was $175,00 less than reported in tax filings, McKannay said.

The 2008 tax return showed Plotkin also received a $10,200 car allowance, a $9,000 administrative allowance, a companion travel allowance of up to $3,000 and a tax deferred annuity of up to 10 percent of his annual gross salary.

McKannay said the 2009 tax filing is not due until November. That filing will reflect a 4 percent bonus that Plotkin received, but McKannay had no other details of his pay for that year.

CSBA will meet Aug. 17 to discuss "a number of critical issues," including ways to ensure transparency on compensation issues, Pugh wrote.

McKannay said CSBA's directors will also determine whether they will comply with The Bee's Public Records Request, which asked, in part, for Plotkin's most current pay.

- Melody Gutierrez

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About The Public Eye

Welcome to The Bee's newest blog: Public Eye. In the coming months, you will see us breaking news here as well as following up on investigations we have published with tidbits, news breaks and behind-the-scenes descriptions of our news-gathering process. Know of a wrong we could right? Send our fraud squad your tips at: fraudsquad@sacbee.com.

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