The Hermiston School Board has voted unanimously to accept the resignation of its superintendent, Dr. Fred Maiocco.
The board will pay Maiocco $281,346 as part of a separation agreement. The majority of that money, $243,368.30, will be paid in a lump sum. The district will pay him $27,456 in PERS contributions, and $10,521.70 in a health benefit account.
Maiocco is currently on active military leave, serving with the U.S. Army Reserves, and based in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
The decision came after the board said they were informed in June that Maiocco’s deployment had been extended until January 2020. Previously, he was scheduled to return to his job as superintendent in January 2019.
The board approved a separation agreement at a meeting on Monday, which stated that they appreciated Maiocco’s service to the district and with the military, but that both parties recognized the negative effects Maiocco’s prolonged leave was having on the district. The official date of Maiocco’s resignation in the agreement is June 30, 2018, the end of the last fiscal year.
“We started having the conversation shortly after Dr. Maiocco’s deployment,” said board vice-chair Josh Goller. “We knew there was a possibility it could be extended — and then we received word his deployment was extended.”
Goller said the board received a letter dated May 26 about Maiocco’s deployment extension in early June.
Board chair Karen Sherman read out a brief resignation statement from Maiocco, which thanks the board and praises the staff and students.
“The current world situation demands that I remain in uniformed active military service beyond the term which we originally contemplated when the board granted me a leave of absence,” he wrote.
In March of 2017, the board approved a three-year employment contract with Maiocco, with an annual salary of $165,753.95. Interim superintendent Tricia Mooney said Maiocco does not get paid by the school district while he is on military leave, and that his contract is on hold during that time.
According to documents provided by the school district, Maiocco received a letter from the U.S. Army dated June 29, 2017, stating that he was required to report by July 27. He informed the school board of his impending leave on July 10, 2017, at a board meeting. Under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), Maiocco’s contract is protected while he is on active duty, and guarantees him re-employment for three years from the date of his return. Had the district refused to approve his leave when he was called to duty in July 2017, they would have had to buy out his contract.
Goller said the full buyout of Maiocco’s contract would have been somewhere in the neighborhood of $786,000, including benefits.
To arrive at the agreement of $281,346, board vice-chair Ginny Holthus said it was the equivalent of one year’s worth of his contract, plus some money from benefits.
Mooney said the purpose was to offer the district some more stability.
“I am not speaking for the board, but I know that Hermiston School District is the largest district in Eastern Oregon,” she said. “When you have an organization of our size, it requires some stability and leadership.”
She said while the board’s job is to represent the community, their main task is to hire and evaluate the superintendent.
“This is out of an intention to move the district forward and do what’s best for our community,” she said.
Goller added that the board is pleased with the job Mooney has done, but the situation has put some uncertainty on her role, too.
“It’s a difficult position for an interim superintendent to be accountable to both the board of directors and the superintendent when he returns,” Goller said.
Mooney’s contract as interim superintendent ends June 30, 2019. Sherman said that the board’s two options were to appoint Mooney as full-time superintendent, or search for another permanent superintendent. She said the board would discuss it at their next meeting, on September 10.
Contact Jayati Ramakrishnan at 541-564-4534 or firstname.lastname@example.org.