The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
Johnny E. Brown will step down as superintendent of Port Arthur Independent School District earlier than originally expected.
Brown and the PAISD board of trustees reached a separation agreement at a special meeting held Thursday, May 2, at the central administration building. On June 30, when Brown’s resignation takes effect, the district will pay him a total settlement payment of $228,726.88 — representing one year’s salary and benefits pursuant to his contract. In addition to that number, Brown “shall be paid for all accrued but unused non-duty and local leave days in accordance with district practice and board policy.” The district and Brown must agree on the number of accrued days.
Brown announced his resignation at the March 28 meeting, with an effective date of Sept. 30, 2014 — the expiration of his contract. The board voted to accept Brown’s resignation and separation agreement in a vote of 5-1, with Theodore Victor holding the only dissenting vote. Thomas J. Kinlaw, III was not present at the meeting.
Victor said he felt the board’s negotiation in the matter was compromised when a trustee publicly announced the maximum total settlement payment. He said that disciplinary action is expected once the board member’s identity is known.
“Basically we had no room to negotiate, and it put the district in a bad position as far as a large payout,” Victor said. “You’re going to pay the existing superintendent to leave, the entrance superintendent to take his place, then a firm to search for the superintendent, then pay the superintendent — all within one year. You’re paying for three superintendents.”
Victor said he felt the board’s decision would have remained the same regardless, but that the total settlement payment may have been lower if the board had the opportunity for negotiation.
“I think the decision still would have been made, but we wouldn’t have spent as much money,” Victor said. “We could have worked something out to benefit the superintendent and the district. But by the board being compromised, we were put in a position where several board members wanted him out, and in order to have him leave, you either agreed to what his contract requested, or he stayed.”
Board president Lloyd Marie Johnson called the decision a “mutual agreement.”
“I think everything runs its course,” Johnson said. “We’ve had seven good years with Dr. Brown, but it’s time for us both to look at other avenues.”
Johnson said the search for Brown’s replacement has not yet begun, but the board will arrangements for appointing an interim at the next meeting, held on Thursday, May 23.
Brown arrived at PAISD in 2006 from a school district in Georgia, where he served as a consultant. He is currently exploring other career options outside the area, as his family still owns a home near Atlanta.
“I’ve enjoyed every day that I’ve been here, but my family and I have decided that it’s time to move on and consider other options,” Brown said. “I trust that the board loves children as much as I do, and that they’re going to make the best decision before putting a new leader in place.”