The Utah State Board of Education held a special meeting yesterday to take another look at its decision to hire ousted Montgomery County School Superintendent Charles Bernardo as its new state superintendent of public instruction. But after a two hour closed session, board chairman Jay A. Monson said the panel had reconfirmed the appointment to the $63,000 a year post.
In a telephone interview, Monson said the board met again because of phone calls critical of Bernardo that members had received from people in the Washington area after a story on the appointment appeared in The Washington Post on Wednesday.
He said members were concerned about the activities of BSW Management Corp., the firm Bernardo headed for two years after he was forced to resign by a conservative Montgomery School Board in 1979. In the resume submitted when he applied for the Utah post, Bernardo described the company as an "international consulting firm which offers a wide range of consultative services to educational, housing, and social service agencies domestically and abroad."
In an interview on Tuesday, Bernardo said BSW was "a real estate investment and property management firm" that he sold in December 1981. In July 1980 the Montgomery County Sentinel quoted Bernardo saying the company owned apartments and houses in Rockville, Norfolk and Palm Coast, Fla., and that the ex-superintendent had become "a millionaire" through its investments.
"I still don't know whether the firm really is what he told us it is," Monson said. "But there's no evidence of any illegalities or any evident kind of misrepresentation."
Monson noted that under Utah law the state school superintendent has no fixed term but serves at the pleasure of the board