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Monday, May 20, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

School Admins Lose Severance Package Appeal

(CN) - A school superintendent did not abuse his authority when he refused to approve severance packages for his district's administrative employees before merging with another district, a California appeals court ruled.

Superintendent of Sacramento County schools David Gordon complied with California law when he denied the school board's request for funds, reversing a trial court finding that said Gordon abused his discretion by refusing to approve the payroll requests.

When Sacramento County decided to collapse three school districts into the Twin Rivers Unified School District, the district planned to trim administrative positions and offered one to two years compensation to several administrative employees to end their contract early.

The move could save the district an estimated $1.5 to $2 million, according to the ruling.

The board of the outgoing Grant Joint Union High School District approved payroll requests to fund the severance packages, but Gordon refused to approve the requests, saying he was investigating possibly illegal fiscal practices.

Gordon also said he was concerned that the plan would not save the district money and might put it in financial jeopardy.

The California Court of Appeals for the Third District ruled that Gordon made clear to the fiscal services office his plan to rescind the payroll requests, and that California education law "permitted (him) to exercise his fiscal watchdog powers to protect the fiscal solvency of Twin Rivers Unified School District," Justice Kathleen Butz wrote.

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