Rialto Superintendent Put On Leave While District Accountant’s Thefts Are Probed

The Rialto Unified School Board this week placed Rialto Unified Superintendent Harold Cebrun and his chief of staff on administrative leave, reportedly as a consequence of investigators confirming that a personal relationship existed between Cebrun and the former district employee who has been charged with embezzlement from the district.
On August 7, Judy Oakes, an accountant with the Rialto Unified School District’s nutrition department since 1993, was arrested by the Rialto Police Department on suspicion of embezzlement, burglary and grand theft. She was charged by the district attorney’s office with burglary, Penal Code Section 459, on August 12, according to the Superior Court’s website. The Rialto Police Department maintains Oakes was recorded on video putting school lunch money into her bra.
The district placed Oakes on administrative leave following her arrest. On August 8, she tendered her resignation.
Oakes, 48 of San Bernardino, was able to post $50,000 bail within three hours after her arrest and was released.
Within a very short time after her arrest, allegations surfaced that Oakes, the widow of Jack Oakes, a former principal of Ramona-Allesandro Elementary School in San Bernardino, had a close personal relationship with Cebrun. At a specially-scheduled board meeting on August 14, Cebrun denied any wrongdoing without specifically disavowing his relationship with the accused.
“I’ve served this district with honor and integrity for the past four-and-a-half years,” he said. “This crime is an isolated incident of one person… not involving me.”
The school board hired Rancho Cucamonga-based Stewart Investigative Services, Inc., to carry out an investigation of the matter and undertook an audit of the district’s nutrition services department, an effort that paralleled the investigations of the Rialto Police Department, the San Bernardino County District Attorney and the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools.
As Stewart Investigative Services’ inquiry into the matter progressed, information developed that convinced the school board of the 26,408-enrollment district that it would be prudent to take steps that would ensure that Cebrun and his chief of staff, James Wallace, who also serves as the district’s assistant superintendent of student services, are not in a position to interfere with the ongoing investigations and do not have access to any documentation investigators are seeking.
It is anticipated that Stewart Investigative Services will deliver a report on the matter to the school board on September 25.
The board tapped associate superintendent of business services Mohammad Z. Islam to temporarily replace Cebrun and serve in the role of acting superintendent.
Cebrun, who has been away from the district on bereavement leave, reiterated his earlier statement, insisting “I had nothing to do with this and had no knowledge of any criminal activity. I have not violated any district policy.”

Leave a Reply