Sunnyside school board buys out Isquierdo for nearly $500k

2014-06-03T00:30:00Z 2014-06-03T18:48:27Z Sunnyside school board buys out Isquierdo for nearly $500kVeronica M. Cruz Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

After a seven-hour long executive session the Sunnyside school board voted 3-2 to buy out superintendent Manuel Isquierdo and agreed to pay him $499,500 to terminate the contract that was set to expire in two years.

Board president Eva Carrillo Dong and member Daniel Hernandez voted against the buyout.

Dong said the buyout was not fiscally responsible and a better option would have been to keep Isquierdo but have him work in a different position, marketing the district's Digital Advantage program, which would have brought money into the district.

Buck Crouch and outgoing board clerk Louie Gonzales and member Bobby Garcia voted in favor of the buyout.

Crouch called Isquierdo "toxic" to the district and he needed to be removed so the district could rebuild and move forward.

Isquierdo will remain superintendent through July 2, but will be assigned to work from home starting June 7.

At a meeting Tuesday evening the board will consider appointing assistant superintendents Jan Vesely or Genie Favela as interim superintendent, Hernandez said. 

The settlement agreement between the board and Isquierdo says he will submit a written resignation between June 10 and June 20 that will be effective July 2.

From that date he will be paid 18 months worth of "buyout monies" in equal payments over the course of 18 months.

About two weeks ago, Isquierdo asked the board to consider buying him out of his contract at a special meeting held to address accusations made by board member Crouch that Isquierdo lied about the district’s graduation numbers.

Monday’s meeting was posted Friday and set for the last day Isquierdo has majority support of the board, as two newly elected members, who are among Isquierdo’s critics, are to be sworn in Tuesday.

Board members Gonzales and Garcia were ousted in a recall election May 20 by Beki Quintero and Eric Giffin.

Isquierdo’s critics said they are disappointed with the management of the district under his leadership, including a decline in school ratings and what they describe as wasteful spending.

Three consecutive budget overrides have failed in public votes, causing the district to make budget cuts. The latest of those resulted in the district having to seek ways to save $6 million, including cutting arts teachers and closing schools.

Supporters credit Isquierdo with increasing graduation numbers and for his technology initiatives — including a laptop program for students — as ways he’s improved the district.

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