April 13, 2008

Another RUSD finalist got $279,000 to go away
(plus, the district bought her house for $327,000)

Let's put this in perspective:

When Tom Hicks, Racine Unified School District superintendent, was eased out last fall, he took with him about $200,000 in salary and benefits just for going away. The district paid the final year of his contract without Hicks having to work for it.

That's chicken feed compared to the payout received in 2006 by one of RUSD's three superintendent finalists when she was forced to resign. She got $279,000 -- a year's salary of more than $155,000, another $56,000 for benefits earned but not taken, and an extra $68,000. Plus, the board agreed to buy her $327,000 home.

Dr. Carlinda Purcell was superintendent of the Montgomery County Public Schools in Montgomery, AL, from 2004 to 2006, according to her resume. A story on the website of Montgomery TV station WSFA -- which doesn't make clear why Purcell and the board parted ways -- indicated only that the resignation "was controversial and came about three weeks after several board members sent a letter to Purcell asking her to resign." The board voted 5-2 to negotiate termination of her four-year contract. The newsletter American Renaissance says, "At least 200 members of the black community met Monday night at a rally filled with racial overtones" in her support.

Unlike the case of finalist Dr. Craig Bangtson's resume issues, RUSD was aware of all this. Sue Kutz, chairman of RUSD's search committee, said when contacted this afternoon, "she had issues with the school board. The school board was put on probation because of this ... it was a case of a badly-behaved school board."

A story in the Montgomery Advertiser quoted board member Beverly Ross, one of two who wanted Purcell to stay, saying "I think she (Purcell) is the best superintendent this school system has ever had. I do not want her to leave. She is what's best for the children in this community." Dr. Purcell was Montgomery's first female, and first African-American superintendent.

PROACT Inc.'s president, Dr. Nancy Noeske, who headed up RUSD's search, was also aware: she is quoted in a Jan. 22, 2007, Toledo Blade story about a search she headed there -- in which four of the seven applicants to be interviewed for the superintendent's job came to the district with what the story called " baggage" -- being forced out of previous jobs.

Two of those candidates are now on Racine's short-list: Dr. Bangtson and Dr. Purcell.

Dr. Noeske was quoted about another of Dr. Purcell's departures -- she left her job as superintendent in Warren County, NC, a year before her contract expired. Dr. Purcell said she left, according to the story, to spend time with her ailing mother, who had a stroke. "The wonderful time I had in Warren county...It was a success story," she said. But the story then went on to quote Dr. Noeske, saying "there was some tension between Ms. Purcell and the school board."

All three finalists were bought out of last contracts. JT's story HERE.

Our earlier story on RUSD's finalists HERE.

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