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Though Superintendent Terry Grier has long since left North Carolina to lead the San Diego Unified School District, his past earnings are still making headlines on the East Coast.

The Greensboro-based Rhino Times reports that about $55,000 of Grier’s compensation came from sources outside the school district, such as local businesses and associations, through a “retirement buyback” aimed at keeping Grier in North Carolina:

The school board in May 2005 voted to pay one-half of the cost of purchasing a year of out-of-state service from the North Carolina Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System for each year Grier was employed by Guilford County Schools. That change was spelled out in a June 30, 2005 addendum to Grier’s contract. Neither the vote nor the addendum mentions outside funding sources.

Why is this a problem? It might not be: The story quotes North Carolina Department of Public Instruction staff attorney Katie Cornetto, who doubts that the arrangement is illegal. But one school board member said the payments seem questionable:

“If it’s not publicly disclosed and approved by the board, I don’t think that it’s legal,” Hebert said. “And it has to have board approval. Almost no one knew what Terry was making. I’m not sure anyone does yet. The only one who might have known was Terry.”

EMILY ALPERT

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