BCPS employee's job on line after using district credit card to pay for hotel room with mistress

Israel Canales says he accidentally used credit card, returned funds

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A 27-year Broward County Public Schools district administrator faced the possibility of termination Tuesday after an investigation showed that he used a district credit card to reserve a hotel room for his affair with another district employee.

The investigation has been a long, drawn-out process, with school board members seeming unhappy about how the district's team of lawyers have handled the situation so far.

Many of them felt uncomfortable taking away Israel Canales' job for what they see as making a moral mistake.

"This has been my life. This district has been my life," Canales said.

Canales pleaded his case Tuesday as the school board considered his punishment.

"I'm at a loss for words because this is all I know. This is all I know. I'm sorry," he said.

The investigation found that Canales, who oversees operations for the entire administration center, used a district credit card to reserve a hotel room for his extra-marital relationship.

But Canales and his lawyer said it was simply a mistake, and the investigation found that the money was credited back to the card less than a month later.

Originally, the district's Professional Standards Committee recommended Canales be fired for "misuse of position," but school board members thought that was too harsh.

"I don't personally think it warrants somebody's job being taken away (who) has never been written up (and who) has never had a problem," school board member Dr. Rosalind Osgood said.

"I don't think the punishment fits the crime, so, I'm sorry," vice chair Nora Rupert said.

The school board tabled the vote after a 1 1/2 hour-long discussion on the matter and has yet to decide whether Canales will keep his job.

Most members of the school board, however, appear to be leaning toward a less severe punishment, some citing that other school district employees have mistakenly used credit cards in the past. Many also feel that they shouldn't punish someone for personal marital issues.

Late Tuesday, the school board voted down a proposal for a demotion and $30,000 salary cut. They instructed district staff to draft a proposal for suspension which would include a new position with a comparable salary.

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