Embattled County Superintendent Resigns
No explanation is given by the County why Randy Ward is stepping down. This is KPBS Midday Edition. After 10 years in office he will resign in November and he is a subject of a lawsuit. The San Diego Ferrum Festival starts out with stories that have survived sharks. It wine country is celebrating crush season with a wine tasting in San Diego and the conversation with a best selling author. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. KPBS Midday Edition is Nasca -- next. County education supervisor are the subject of a lawsuit and now he's resigning. The San Diego film Festival opens with a tragic tale of the USS Indianapolis. This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. It is Wednesday, September 14. Our top story Sandeno County superintendent of education, Randy Ward, is stepping down in November more than six months before his contract expires. The County office of education said the early departure is not an indication that there is a lawsuit that alleges he illegally posted is pay while in office. Joining me is Ashly McGlone . Tippah County give any reason for his early departure? They have not. As you mentioned, they have said this doesn't mean that the claims made in this taxpayer lawsuit have any merit. What we know is he spent two months on leave so far. He will spend another two months on paid leave before he resigns. When they did put them on leave, they said so they can launch a third-party audit to review his compensation in light of the claims being made in the lawsuit. We have not seen the results of that audit so not sure what they have seen or what they presented to Randy Ward at this point. What are the claims being made by They take issue with what's known to as a clause that was board approved a fuse.. These things are not uncommon. What the board did was they removed any degree of question. So he automatically gets every raise but the teachers get in the question of the issue that arises with that situation is that since he is the one in charge of negotiations for the teachers, he been has a financial interest in that contract be made with the teachers that the automatically gets what they get. That potentially flies in the face of laws that deals with the government officials that can have the interest. Do we know how much Randy Ward's compensation increase because of the increases in teachers pay? I believe it was something like $70,000. The lawsuit also takes issue with the reason he received several years ago back in 2008 and postpone taking and then retroactively applied in 2010, which I think was like $3000. So the total is something around $100,000 at a minimum. That is still very early on. There is no court date set. Who is bring in this lawsuit? The California taxpayers action network is a group and represented by local attorneys. There the ones about to enter lowly of nowhere -- to light at of nowhere. Even though Randy Ward will be leaving in November, the county is going to pay for his legal defense, is that right? So when he gets out of the separation agreement that they negotiate he gets two more months of paid leave and gets $35,000 and he gets his attorney fees that he has incurred while he's been on leave covered and also gives a legal defense that may arise with any of his time. If years convicted for abuse of his office or position, then he would need to repay those attorney cost to the County office of education. Backed is a framework of the deal that they agreed to. Have you been able to speak with Randy Ward or anyone at the Kennedy -- County? I tried. I reached out to him several times to get the message across I would love to sit down with him and hear his side of things. Ever since the lawsuit was filed he has not agreed to discuss any of this. I have spoken to some of the board members and some of the upcoming board members who were elected to but don't take office until January and they are just waiting in the wings and seeing this unfold and wondering when a replacement would be made. Mr. Ward I have not Curtis Pride of this whole thing. This is just the latest in a string of recent school management controversies in San Diego. We had board member to get the sense that there are more problems lately or that we are just more sensitive to them and catching more of them? I do think -- I think local communities are paying more attention to their local school leaders and their finances and their business dealings and contracts. I think there has been an awareness in recent years at school districts are not just about kids in classrooms. They are also multibillion-dollar government agencies and they have a lot of power and say over how taxpayer funds are spent. Unfortunately, with the revelations from a few years ago, there was awareness that they were maybe taking advantage of contractor relationships. Issues with the fundraisers and then I think their billion-dollar bond deal was in eye-opener a few years back where local residents did not realize the power that local school leaders had to commit them to huge sums of debt for that last for decades. I think people are being more vigilant but they have shown that there is reason to be leery. I have in speaking with Ashly McGlone . Thank you so much. Thank you.
County Superintendent of Schools Randy Ward will resign Nov. 15, the board of the San Diego County Office of Education announced Tuesday night.
Ward’s contract to lead the regional school oversight agency didn’t expire until July 2017, but an early departure deal was reached with the five-person board of trustees, which placed Ward on paid leave two months ago.
A forensic audit of Ward’s compensation was launched in July after he was sued for alleged self-dealing by the California Taxpayers Action Network, represented by attorney Cory Briggs. No reasons were given for Ward’s resignation in the board’s statement:
The Board and Superintendent Ward have reached a settlement, under the terms of which Dr. Ward will advance his retirement date to November 15, 2016, from what was scheduled to be June 30, 2017. Dr. Ward and the Board have agreed that it would be in the best interests of all involved to reach an amicable separation at this point in time.
We want to thank Dr. Ward for his 10 years of service as County Superintendent. We also wish to reiterate that the placement of Dr. Ward on leave was not, nor was it intended to be, any kind of assertion that the allegations of the California Taxpayers Action Network lawsuit have any merit.
As part of the deal, Ward will receive $35,000 for “transition expenses” stemming from his departure, as well as payment for attorney fees incurred in connection with his leave of absence and negotiation of the separation agreement.
Trustees also agreed to pay for any civil or criminal legal defense required by Ward — including the taxpayer group lawsuit — but Ward has to reimburse criminal defense costs if he is convicted of abusing his office or position.
The San Diego County Office of Education oversees the county’s 42 school districts and educates 3,500 of the most vulnerable students in the county, including some who are homeless, have been incarcerated or kicked out of traditional schools.
Ashly is an investigative reporter for Voice of San Diego. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619.550.5669.