When San Diego Unified’s general counsel, Ted Buckley, announced he was retiring from the school district, I asked to see his contract. It includes a remarkable provision that apparently won’t go into effect: Buckley would get his regular $187,500 salary for up to 18 months if San Diego Unified unilaterally terminated him before the agreement expired.

In short: If Buckley got fired, he would still get paid. The payments would continue 18 months or until the original agreement expired — whichever is less — and would stop when Buckley took a similar job elsewhere. He would get health benefits too.

The provision exists “in consideration of the General Counsel’s moving to San Diego from his prior location in order to accept this employment,” according to the contract. Buckley was recruited from Long Beach to take the job — as were a number of top administrators hired by former superintendent Carl Cohn.

But Buckley’s statements indicate that the deal won’t happen. Asked whether he was terminated, Buckley said he opted to leave the school district and retire by June 30. That means the provision wouldn’t apply. He wrote me via e-mail:

Thirty-seven years ago I was smart enough to marry a very fine person, and she retired from her teaching career two years ago.  She and I decide all family matters together, and we both agreed that this is a good time for me to retire.  …Social Security tells me that I will turn 65 next month- which is tricky since I think I am only 39 — or 41 at the most.  But then, they’re the government, and I don’t want to upset them with my version of the “truth”.

So my leaving is no more complicated than that — it’s a good time of life to do so.

EMILY ALPERT

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