The Ledger-Enquirer has learned the amount of money the Harris County Board of Education agreed to pay Jimmy Martin to resign as superintendent.
Amid a dispute that both sides have declined to specify, Martin resigned May 10, effective immediately. They also have declined to comment on the terms of their separation. But board chairman Shane Lipp and board attorney Jeff Todd complied with the Ledger-Enquirer’s request under the Georgia Open Records Act to provide the documents that would answer the question.
No definitive statement reveals the amount of money, but by piecing together the terms, the Ledger-Enquirer estimates the board will pay Martin $173,893.75 to not be superintendent — and Todd confirmed the calculation, calling it “in essence, 15 months of salary.”
The seven-member board unanimously hired Martin in April 2014 from Chattahoochee County, where he was superintendent for six years. But only two of the current seven Harris County board members, Steve Goodoe and Bethany Lucas, were on the board then.
At that time, Karen Hopkins, then the Harris County board’s chairwoman, said Martin’s salary would be the same package retired superintendent Craig Dowling received: $135,000 per year. Martin’s last salary in ChattCo was $107,800. His replacement in ChattCo, former Cairo High School principal David McCurry, 51, retired at the end of last month, and Martin, 51, told the Ledger-Enquirer last week that he now wants to return to ChattCo.
In the past four years, Martin’s salary had increased to $139,115 in Harris County. His contract, most recently amended May 11, 2017, was extended to June 30, 2020.
The “Resignation and Release Agreement” requires the board to pay Martin’s monthly salary and benefits through Aug. 8. Those three months of salary amount to $34,778.75.
The agreement also requires the board on Aug. 8 to pay Martin the entire annual base salary he would have earned if he remained superintendent. So $34,778.75 plus $139,115 equals the $173,893.75 payoff for Martin to leave the school district and relinquish the final year of his contract.
And the agreement requires the board to provide Martin’s prospective employers with a “neutral statement” about him, and the “circumstances” of the resignation “will not be mentioned or discussed with prospective employers.”
Lipp hasn’t replied to the Ledger-Enquirer’s request to explain why the board thinks this agreement is in Harris County’s best interest. In his emailed response to the L-E’s questions about the search for the school district’s next superintendent, Lipp said, “The board has not made any firm decisions regarding the path forward as of yet.”
Five days after Martin’s resignation, the board announced the appointment of retired Harris County High School principal Roger Couch to be the interim superintendent.