Art Johnson out as superintendent of Palm Beach County Schools

Bill Malone named interim superintendent

SUBURBAN WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - On Wednesday night, Palm Beach County School Board voted 6-1 in favor of firing Art Johnson if a settlement agreement is not signed by Monday.

In a span of about a half hour, the board had fired Art Johnson and hired his replacement.

The board has offered Johnson a settlement deal that would pay him $400,000 in a combination of severance pay and accrued time.

If he doesn't agree, he would be fired according to the terms of his contract.

Members have agreed to pay him $235,000 by March 4th, and $150,000 over the course of six months.

At the same time, they hired the district's former COO, Bill Malone, to hold the job for six months. The board acknowledges that they've made this switch in the middle of two crises, one financial, the other confidence.

Malone takes this job knowing the budget process begins in a matter of days, and says it's just as important to win the confidence of the groups that abandoned Art Johnson, the teachers and the parents.

Malone says he almost walked out of the meeting tonight after seeing the principals, who supported Johnson, jawing with the teachers, who didn't.

He says repairing that tone will be another of his key jobs.

Wednesday night's vote ends Johnson’s tenure as superintendent two days short of ten years.

Johnson became embroiled in a controversy over whether he covered up for a former administrator who was doing outside consulting while still on the district's payroll.

An auditing firm is currently conducting an investigation into the matter.

For the past week negotiations were underway between the board and Johnson to reach an amicable separation.

Although Johnson's 13-page contract included numerous scenarios under which his employment could be terminated, the head of the teachers' union said recently that there were many on the board who did not want to be seen as being too hard on Johnson because he has led the district for ten years, and has delivered an "A" financial rating through a difficult recession.

Palm Beach Post contributed to this report

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