WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Negotiations are ongoing between the Palm Beach County School Superintendent and the head of the school board to reach an amicable separation.
Although Art Johnson's 13-page contract includes numerous scenarios under which his employment can be terminated, the head of the teachers' union says that there are many on the board who do not want to be seen as being too hard on a superintendent because he has led the district for ten years, and has delivered an "A" financial rating through a difficult recession.
Under the contract, Johnson can be fired with cause, without cause, or he can resign.
-If he is fired with cause, the district would not have to pay him salary after the day he is fired.
-If he is fired without cause with ninety days notice, an amendment signed in 2002 gives him six months of pay, rather than only three months as was originally negotiated in 2001. His salary has nearly doubled since then, to $300,000 a year, which would make him eligible for $150,000 in pay if he's fired.
-If the superintendent resigns, he is only eligible for a pro-rated salary until the day his resignation is effective.
Wednesday night, the board's legal counsel advised that they not give a reason for Johnson's firing, out of fear it would expose the district to a lawsuit.
At the meeting, no details were given of what kind of parachute Johnson might be eligible for if an amicable split was reached.
Right now, his contract allows him to receive $750 a month in a personal car allowance, a cell phone and home computer.
Johnson signed his contract in 2001 and the first page says that leaders should demonstrate a professional code of ethics.
An auditing firm is investigating whether Johnson helped cover for a former top administrator who was doing outside consulting while on company time.
The district is scheduled to meet next week, but a split could be announced at any time.
Sources say the search for a temporary superintendent is on.
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