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What would it cost LAUSD to fire Michelle King?

Sarah Favot | June 15, 2017

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General Counsel David Holmquist and Superintendent Michelle King.

The LA Unified school board in one of its last actions before the new board is installed next month voted to extend Superintendent Michelle King’s contract until 2020. The contract was not up for renewal until 2018.

But what would it cost?

Here’s a look at provisions in King’s contract that explain why she could be terminated, how it would happen, and what it would cost the district.

• King’s contract requires that she be given 90 days’ notice of termination and be paid for that period, which calculates to about $90,000. (Her $350,000 annual salary divided by 12 is about $30,000 a month.)

• King can be terminated “for no cause for any reason whatsoever (including, but not limited to, for example loss of confidence or incompatibility with board members, dissatisfaction with King’s leadership or communications style or policy difference).”

• If terminated for cause, then no 90-day notice period or pay is given.

• If King decides to leave, she must give 90 days’ notice.

• She is not entitled to a “buyout.”

• King would also receive any unused accrued vacation and sick pay.

• It would require a majority vote of the school board (four votes).

• It must be done at a board meeting (likely in closed session and then reported in open session).

• According to her contract, King receives an annual performance evaluation by the school board by Oct. 31 of each year. The district in April denied a Public Records Act request from LA School Report requesting a copy of King’s latest evaluation, citing “privilege” and that personnel records are exempt from disclosure.

• Under the district’s ethics policies, King — and any district staff — cannot work on district matters for up to two years after leaving the district.

• A news release from the district said Tuesday’s board action did not change any other element of the contract, only extending the contract length from June 2018 to June 2020.

The decision has been criticized by some advocates. In an open letter to board members, the parent organization Speak UP stated, “As LAUSD parents, we are deeply disappointed” at the “backroom” deal that “was made behind closed doors without any public notice or comment and with no formal evaluation of the superintendent’s performance and how this extension will impact our kids.”

The letter praised board member Mónica García, who was the lone dissent in the board vote and said the decision should have been made by the new board.

UCLA education Professor Tyrone Howard told the Los Angeles Times that “politics are always at play. Folks want to see their people kept in places where they can support a particular issue or agenda.

“Even with a new contract, of course, that doesn’t make her exempt from any kind of removal.”

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