As I reported earlier today, San Diego Unified’s chief administrative officer, José Betancourt, is out.

Two board members involved in the negotiation of his severance package have said Betancourt will receive six months of pay. (The district plans to release a formal statement on the resolution of the negotiations later today.)

But according to Betancourt’s contract, the district only needs to give him three month’s notice to fire him for any reason — or with no reason at all.

It says:

The Chief Administrative Officer is terminable at will and shall serve at the will and pleasure of the Board of Education and may be removed from employment (terminated) at any time for any reason or no reason upon an affirmative vote of a majority of the membership constituting the Board.

Then, it says this:

In the event the Chief Administrative Officer is terminated from employment with the District other than “for cause” during the term of this Agreement, during which time the Chief Administrative Officer is willing and able to perform his duties under this Agreement, the Board agrees to provide the Chief Administrative Officer notice of termination in writing three (3) months prior to the date this Agreement and employment of the Chief Administrative Officer are to be terminated.

School board member Mitz Lee said she voted against the severance package because she believes Bentancourt is entitled only to three month’s pay. But she was overruled by a majority of the board.

“I voted to honor the contract, which is the three months. But it’s a board decision, and majority rules,” she said.

School board member John de Beck said Betancourt was given extra funds to avoid a potential lawsuit by the former chief administrative officer.

Board President Luis Acle said he could not discuss the details of the deal.

“The one thing that the board agreed is not to disclose any of the details of this negotiation, and we need to respect that,” Acle said.

District General Counsel Ted Buckley did not return a call for comment.


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