UPDATE: BOE revokes superintendent contract offer

Timothy Gadson

McDONOUGH — The Henry County Board of Education revoked its contract offer to Timothy Gadson, the sole finalist for superintendent, on Monday.

According to district officials, following an executive session during a special called meeting board members voted 3-2 to rescind the contract offer to Gadson. Board members Donna McBride and Annette Edwards voted against the measure.

In a statement released by Henry County Schools, Board Chair Pam Nutt said “the contract demands of Dr. Gadson far exceeded what has been traditionally extended to previous superintendents by way of salary and compensation packages.”

However, during Tuesday morning’s board study session McBride said the contract was not negotiated during Monday’s executive session and that the board was not provided with a copy of the contract before it was sent to Gadson’s attorney.

“It was not reviewed or approved by the board,” McBride said. “I’m very sad we did not do our due diligence in negotiating the contract.”

McBride stated she intended to ask the board during Tuesday night’s meeting to reconsider and reissue a contract that is approved by the board and, if there’s a counter offer, to negotiate.

“I am very ashamed that we did not do what we should have done,” McBride said. She claimed the board was in violation of its own policy because negotiations did not take place.

Edwards added that she felt that board members were elected to “stand firm” and make decisions in the best interest of all students. She added that board members should not “sway under pressure”

“When the pressure started some board members changed their vote,” Edwards said. “The decision that this board made to rescind was not in the best interest of these children.”

On Monday after the board’s decision, board member Josh Hinton said Gadson’s wants “were in my opinion so far out there there was no negotiation or compromise that could be done.” He said the board made sure Gadson’s attorney had a copy of the current superintendent’s contract.

“I think it’s unfortunate for the people of Henry County to go through this whether they’re for or against Gadson,” Hinton said.

Board member Holly Cobb said Tuesday before making her decision during Monday’s meeting that she had received a great deal of feedback from people not only in her district, but from across the county. She said she was “shocked” at Gadson’s counter offer.

“It spoke loudly to me his intentions were not in the best interest of our students,” Cobb said.

However, she said what bothered her even more than the money was the request to remove the word “immorality” from reasons the board may terminate the contract.

“I want someone our children can look up to, and that revealed his character,” Cobb said.

She added that the board was given three options of how to proceed with Gadson’s counter offer.

“Our legal counsel, Buddy Welch, told us we could rescind the offer, extend another offer or say ‘take it or leave it,’” Cobb said.

Gadson said he and his legal counsel came up with the counter offer by looking at superintendent wages in the Atlanta metro area and comparable school districts.

“You start with fair market value and work with the other party to get to an agreement,” Gadson said. He said the counter offer was a “starting point.”

He said that what has transpired is “not typical of what I know to be a negotiation.”

“I would like for us to come to an agreement and enter into a negotiation and have a discussion,” Gadson said. He said neither he nor his attorney heard any feedback from the board.

“I can’t stress enough how hopeful we are to be able to work something out that would allow me to lead this district and make a difference,” Gadson said.

Though the board announced its intent to begin a new superintendent search, the Henry County NAACP posted a flier on Facebook asking residents to attend the board’s 7 p.m. meeting Tuesday “to come in numbers and demand the leadership of Dr. Gadson.”

According to the flier, Monday’s special called meeting was “unofficial, non-publicized.” It goes on to state, “It is important to note the above mentioned meeting was held without public knowledge or input.”

Edwards, who is married to Eugene Edwards, president of the Henry County NAACP branch, said during Tuesday morning’s meeting that the board “violated its own policy” in regards to notifying the public 24 hours ahead of a special called meeting.

However, the Herald received a fax from the Henry County Board of Education on July 6 at 4:38 p.m. announcing the special called meeting.

HCS spokesman JD Hardin said the announcement was placed on the district’s Simbli board and posted in the Administrative Complex’s lobby on July 6.

Through an Open Records Act request, the Herald received a copy of the contract the board extended to Gadson and Gadson’s counter offer.

The total package offered to Gadson by the Board of Education, which included the superintendent’s annual base salary and benefits, was $444,512.33. Gadson’s counter offered totaled $999,443.47.

The following is a list of some of the requests made by Gadson:

• Base salary

Superintendent Rodney Bowler’s current base salary is $224,939.70. Gadson requested a base salary of $275,000 with an additional $27,500 in contributions to a qualified tax-sheltered annuity plan, bringing the annual salary to $302,500.

• Vehicle

As for benefits, the current superintendent is allotted $5,500 for transportation. Gadson requested $10,200 annually, which included a stipend of $850 per month to assist with travel expenses for his automobile.

• Phone

The current superintendent package allows for $960 per year as an annual phone supplement. By comparison, Gadson asked for $4,000 for “technology necessary to carry out the duties of a superintendent including a smartphone, tablet, laptop, home printer/fax/scanner and monthly charges.

• Vacation

Gadson requested 24 vacation days, rather than 10 days accrued, which would cost the taxpayers $27,049.20, compared to $8,989.30.

• Relocation

A total of $10,000 was requested for moving expenses as well as an additional $10,500 or $3,500 per month for three months for temporary living expenses.

• Contract Buy-Out

The offered contract call for six months of the annual salary for compensation should the board decided to terminate the superintendent’s contract costing $109,669.37. Gadson requested 12 months pay at $302,500 and an additional $24,000 for COBRA expenses.

In total, 330 changes were made by Gadson in his counter offer to the district, adding 168, deleting 148 and and moving 14 items.

The board began its search for a new superintendent after current Superintendent Bowler announced in April his plans to retire on Sept. 29.

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Education reporter Heather Middleton joined the Clayton News and Henry Herald in 2002.

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