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A former employee who is suing the San Diego County Office of Education alleging wrongful termination has been sent back to work, only to immediately go on paid leave.

Rodger Hartnett was fired two years ago from the office for negligence, insubordination and dishonesty. He alleges that he was actually fired for blowing the whistle on conflicts of interest in the agency.

In March, a Superior Court judge ordered that Hartnett be put back to work and given back pay as the larger case proceeded. The office appealed. Last week, another court turned down the appeal.

Hartnett said he tried to return to work today, but was given a letter putting him on paid administrative leave. He estimated his last salary at $110,000 annually, but said it was possible that it had increased in his absence. It is unclear how much back pay Hartnett will receive, another part of the court order. The letter stated:

The County Superintendent is aware of the court order regarding back wages. He is in discussion with his legal counsel regarding the amount of back wages, if any, due you.

I’m waiting to hear back from the County Office spokesman for his comments. Look for updates here.

EMILY ALPERT</6>

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