School District Stops Compensation Payments

TIMES STAFF WRITER

School district officials are holding up thousands of dollars in payments to doctors, lawyers and other vendors who handle the district's worker compensation program until insurance adjusters determine whether the payments and soaring program costs are warranted.

"We're reviewing all of the cases (to determine) the validity of them," said Harvey Grimshaw, a special consultant to the district who is directing the compensation program.

School Supt. J.L. Handy said the district wants to determine whether the bills are for legitimate services before paying them, but he declined to elaborate.

Until last month, the program was administered by a private firm, Golden State Administrators of Compton. In August, however, the district's police officers went to the offices of Golden State and retrieved the district's files on worker injuries.

School officials have not said what prompted their action, but the district canceled its $19,000-a-month contract with Golden State and hired independent insurance adjusters, who are reviewing the files.

The adjusters will be in charge of the compensation program, Grimshaw said, until the district hires a new firm to administer it. At their meeting Tuesday night, district trustees voted to hire an Orange County firm, Advanced Risk Management Techniques Inc. of Laguna Hills, to write a request for proposals and send it to firms that might be interested in administering Compton's program.

In the year that Golden State handled the district's program, worker compensation costs went from $2.8 million annually to $4.3 million. The firm was hired in July, 1989.

Grimshaw said he could not explain the jump in costs but that the district may get a better understanding once the insurance adjusters finish their work.

"If there is any indication of costs that are not appropriate, those things will fall out in the (review) process," Grimshaw said.

None of the school officials could say how long the review would take.

Meanwhile, the vendors are demanding their money. "Here I'm doing my work, and I'm not getting paid for it," said Dr. Jim A. Haririe, who treats injured school employees at his clinic on Compton Boulevard.

Haririe said the district is about $120,000 behind in payments to him, "and it's going up to $200,000."

Haririe said he has saved the district money by sending almost all the workers he treated back to their jobs.

Francis Boggus, a Los Angeles lawyer, said the district owes him about $5,000 for representing the district in worker compensation lawsuits. "I have to pay all my payments promptly," he noted.

Ernest Bradshaw, general manager for MLJ Investigations in Sherman Oaks, said: "We've done the work and we'd like to be paid. It's as simple as that."

Bradshaw said the district owes his firm $4,000 to $6,000. The firm investigates worker compensation claims.

DeBorah Hogg of Long Beach, a rehabilitation counselor who works with injured employees who must be trained for other jobs, said that she is owed about $15,000 and that she does not plan to do any more work for the district because of the delayed payments.

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