Superintendent Romain Dallemand at the official launch of the 'Macon Miracle.'
(Photo: Suzanne Lawler/13WMAZ.com)
By a 7-to-1 vote Monday, the Bibb County school board has decided to buy out Superintendent Romain Dallemand's contract.
The board made the decision at a called meeting Monday night after a closed door meeting that lasted just over an hour. The vote came less than three months after the board approved a new three-year contract for Dallemand.
Member Wanda West made a motion to accept the severance agreement presented to the board. It was seconded by Tom Hudson. There was no discussion.
Lester Miller was the only "no" vote. He would not say why, and board members voted not to comment further.
He received a $350,000 lump sum, according to his severance package.
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Dallemand will remain on the job until that amount is wired into his bank account, the agreement says. He will also make himself available to consult with the board through June 30.
The agreement also says Dallemand and board members agree not to make any statements "to disparage or impugn the other's work and reputation."
As part of the deal, the board approved a two-page recommendation for Dallemand detailing his accomplishments in Bibb.
But only four of the board's eight members signed the recommendation letter: Tom Hudson, Wanda West, Thelma Dillard and Ella Styles-Carter.
Acting chairwoman Susan Sipe and members Jason Downey, Lynn Farmer and Lester Miller did not sign the recommendation letter.
The board did not immediately name an interim replacement. He was not present during the public portions of Monday's meeting.
Dallemand lasted barely two years as superintendent.
He arrived in January 2011 and took office in an elaborate "investiture" ceremony.
But he quickly became the center of controversy.
In 2012, he unveiled his ambitious "Macon Miracle" plan for improving the district's schools. Some parts of the plan, like closing schools and cutting the teacher staff, sparked protests. The board approved a scaled-down version of the plan several weeks later.
His proposals for teaching Mandarin Chinese to all students and going to a year-round school calendar also became controversial.
He traveled to an international conference in Belgium last April, then agreed to pay his own way after some board members criticized the trip
Recently, Dallemand also became the target of several lawsuits.
Former board member Gary Bechtel and his family sued Dallemand personally because the district posted personal information about his son to the district's website. He argued that was retaliation against him for critcizing Dallemand.
Former school chief financial officer Ron Collier filed a whistleblower lawsuit arguing that he was removed from his job because he raised questions about a $1 million payment to a community group.
Collier also argued that the district illegally agreed to a multi-million dollar lease on a former school building.
And a Bibb County man filed a third lawsuit that claimed Dallemand's new contract -- as well as his first contract, signed in 2010 -- were illegal.
Brad DeFore asked a Bibb County judge to throw out the current contract and stop any payments on it.
All three lawsuits are still pending.
Reports surfaced in January that Dallemand invited the board to buy out his contract.
But he told 13WMAZ's Candace Adorka that his goal was to serve out his three-year contract, which ran through 2015.
Three years ago this month, the school board also voted to buy out his predecessor, Sharon Patterson, for $198,000.