County Superintendent of Schools Randy Ward will resign Nov. 15, the board of the San Diego County Office of Education announced Tuesday night.
Ward’s contract to lead the regional school oversight agency didn’t expire until July 2017, but an early departure deal was reached with the five-person board of trustees, which placed Ward on paid leave two months ago.
A forensic audit of Ward’s compensation was launched in July after he was sued for alleged self-dealing by the California Taxpayers Action Network, represented by attorney Cory Briggs. No reasons were given for Ward’s resignation in the board’s statement:
The Board and Superintendent Ward have reached a settlement, under the terms of which Dr. Ward will advance his retirement date to November 15, 2016, from what was scheduled to be June 30, 2017. Dr. Ward and the Board have agreed that it would be in the best interests of all involved to reach an amicable separation at this point in time.
We want to thank Dr. Ward for his 10 years of service as County Superintendent. We also wish to reiterate that the placement of Dr. Ward on leave was not, nor was it intended to be, any kind of assertion that the allegations of the California Taxpayers Action Network lawsuit have any merit.
Ward could not be immediately reached for comment.
As part of the deal, Ward will receive $35,000 for “transition expenses” stemming from his departure, as well as payment for attorney fees incurred in connection with his leave of absence and negotiation of the separation agreement.
Trustees also agreed to pay for any civil or criminal legal defense required by Ward — including the taxpayer group lawsuit — but Ward has to reimburse criminal defense costs if he is convicted of abusing his office or position.
The San Diego County Office of Education oversees the county’s 42 school districts and educates 3,500 of the most vulnerable students in the county, including some who are homeless, have been incarcerated or kicked out of traditional schools.