FRAMINGHAM — After resigning from his position in December, former Superintendent Stacy Scott remains on the district’s payroll and is eligible to continue drawing a salary through mid-May.
A separation agreement last year reached between Scott and the School Committee allows the former superintendent to continue being paid through May 15 at his regular annual rate of more than $200,000. The School Committee also agreed to continue providing him health and dental benefits.
In exchange, Scott agreed not to divulge the terms of the confidential agreement. He also gave up his right to sue the school district for any reason, including wrongful termination or breach of contract.
Signed Aug. 9, 2016, the agreement was forged soon after the school board voted in a private meeting not to renew Scott’s contract. It stipulated that Scott would immediately relinquish his duties, allowing him to receive up to nine months’ worth of compensation without performing any work for the district.
School officials tried last year to keep the agreement secret, denying a request from the Daily News to release it. An official in Secretary of State William Galvin’s office then ordered the district in January to provide the document to the newspaper, ruling that school officials had improperly withheld it from the public.
The agreement spells out in detail the sequence by which Scott left his position, allowing him to take a four-month leave of absence before formally resigning on Dec. 15. School officials divulged nothing about the agreement last year, announcing only that Scott was on leave, that he retired in December, and that the board did not wish to extend his contract.
Reached by phone Thursday, School Committee members Beverly Hugo, Donald Taggart and Jim Stockless declined to answer questions about Scott’s resignation, saying all public statements from the school board must come from its chairwoman, Heather Connolly. A message left for School Committee member Richard Finlay was not returned.
“I think it was the right decision,” Stockless said of the separation agreement, “and the only way you can defend it is with details, but I can’t really go into that because we agreed” to speak through the chairwoman.
Connolly said she was unfamiliar with the details of the contract, and was therefore unable to discuss why the School Committee agreed to continue paying a former employee.
“I really at this point in time don’t have the contract in front of me,” she said, “and unfortunately, I can’t answer that at this point in time. What I can say directly is that … I firmly believe that every committee member made a decision that was in the best interest of the Framingham School District, as well as for the town of Framingham.”
Scott, one of the town’s highest paid employees, was in line to earn more than $223,000 this school year, according to his most recent contract, including a base salary of more than $213,000 and a longevity payment topping $10,000.
Scott was due to continue working through June 30, 2017. The contract required the School Committee to notify him at least one year in advance if they planned not to extend his employment.
The school board satisfied that obligation, according to records released to the newspaper, sending a written notice to Scott on June 6, 2016 that his contract wouldn’t be renewed.
Nevertheless, the deal signed by Scott and the School Committee indicates the parties “mutually” desired to sever their relationship “amicably without legal dispute.” It allowed Scott to go on paid professional leave from July 15, 2016 through Aug. 15, 2016 to attend a pair of conferences. He then used accumulated vacation, personal and sick days to remain on leave through mid-December.
The agreement also carefully controlled how Scott’s departure would be announced to the public. The parties agreed to craft a joint statement that would be released by Aug. 25, 2016 announcing Scott had taken a long-term leave of absence. The statement indicated only that Scott was on leave, and that business manager Ed Gotgart would fill the position in his stead. It made no mention of Scott’s impending resignation, or of the School Committee’s May 2016 decision not to renew his contract.
As part of the deal, Scott agreed not to make negative statements about the school district or the School Committee. Similarly, board members agreed not to disparage the outgoing superintendent.
As part of the agreement, Scott’s compensation will be offset by his future salary if he finds another job “commensurate with his skills, experience, certifications, and academic trainings” before May 15.
Glenn Koocher, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, said districts often draft legal agreements when they part ways with a superintendent, though it’s not common for an employee to continue being paid.
In such cases, Koocher said districts are often trying to satisfy their obligations under an existing employment contract. He said payments are also more common when both parties agree it’s time to change direction.
He added that you almost never see separation agreements reached when an employee is accused of wrongdoing, such as misappropriating funds.
“Usually when there is a separation agreement it’s because both parties have decided that it’s in everybody’s best interest that they start over,” he said, “and I know enough about Framingham to know that there has been no inappropriate behavior by either party. It’s just an agreement to move on.”
Scott, the former superintendent of schools in Dracut, was hired in 2012 to oversee the town’s 14 public schools, which have a combined enrollment of more than 8,600 students. His contract was renewed for another three years in 2014, though his final year in Framingham was tumultuous.
Scott applied to superintendent jobs in Cambridge, Fall River and Louisiana, but was passed over for each. School officials also discovered that he did not hold a required license. While Scott pointed to bureaucratic delays by the state, the episode tarnished his public image. The Framingham Teachers Association took a vote of no-confidence in Scott soon after.
Taggart declined Thursday to discuss the factors that drove the School Committee’s decision not to keep Scott in the school district, saying only the board has “no hidden agenda of any sort.”
“I know that in some circles, people are not necessarily happy with what was decided,” he said, “or what had to be decided, and there’s nothing I can do about that.”
Connolly said the School Committee has been as transparent with the public as possible about its decision. She said officials are eager to move forward under incoming superintendent Robert Tremblay, who was selected Monday to be the next Framingham superintendent.
“We’re extremely excited about that,” she said, “and the district is ready to welcome Dr. Tremblay and move forward.”