Orange County Schools superintendent resigns

jalexander@newsobserver.comMay 13, 2014 

  • Statement that was issued regarding the OCS superintendent resignation

    On behalf of the Orange County Board of Education, I would like to thank each of you for all that you do for the children in our district. You are tireless and you spend countless hours ensuring their needs are met, and for all of your efforts, the Board is grateful.

    I want to take a moment to inform you of decisions that occurred at tonight’s Board meeting. In a unanimous decision, the Orange County Board of Education, in the best interest of the students, parents, staff, and community, agreed to conclude Dr. Martin’s employment as the superintendent of our District. Superintendent Gerri Martin submitted, and the Board accepted, a letter of resignation from the District effective May 12, 2014. The Board has named Dr. Del Burns as Interim Superintendent.

    As you know, Dr. Burns is a proven, experienced, exceptional leader who has led our school district forward once before and now is prepared to offer his services again. We are very fortunate to have one of our nation’s best superintendents join us again to provide the necessary experience and skills as a leader in our school system. In addition, the Board has selected Pam Jones, who currently serves as Interim Auxiliary Services Director, to serve as Acting Superintendent in the event that Dr. Burns is out-of-the District.

    Thank you, again, for all that you do for Orange County Schools – the Board of Education values you.

— Gerri Martin, who resigned as Orange County Schools superintendent Monday after less than eight months on the job, will receive a $100,000.

Orange County Schools lawyer Jonathan Blumberg said Martin’s contract provided for a severance payment should she leave early.

“That was something that was resolved amicably in discussions between parties,” Blumberg said. “The results of those amicable discussions was the ($100,000) agreement.”

Board Chairwoman Donna Coffey said the board knew for two weeks that Martin might resign

According to Martin’s contract, she was supposed to give at least 60 calendar days’ written notice before resigning. But Blumberg said the board was fine with her resigning and expected her to.

“It’s important to note that he school board reached a determination that it was in the best interest of the students of Orange County Schools to conclude the employment arraingment with Dr. Martin,” Blumberg said. “She determined it was in her best interest as well and she agreed to resign in those terms.

The vote to accept her resignation was unanimous. Her contract, which was scheduled to run through June 2017, was then terminated, board Coffey said.

She was making $151,337.88 a year.

When asked whether Martin had done a good job as superintendent, Coffey said: “No comment.”

Coffey said she thinks Martin resigned to take care of her mother.

According to Martin’s resignation letter, her mother was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in December.

“I have matters to address regarding a serious family medical situation that has to be a priority for me,” the letter states. “Thank you for selecting me to serve as your superintendent and for affording me the opportunity to serve. I will be happy to assist in facilitating transfer of my responsibilities.”

Efforts to reach Martin were unsuccessful.

Board member Debbie Piscitelli declined to comment, as did newly elected board member Rosa Williams.

“I have no comment on the matter but I wish the (former) superintendent the best,” Williams said.

Efforts to reach all other board members were also unsuccessful.

Martin, the former superintendent of McDowell County Schools, succeeded Patrick Rhodes, who retired in June.

Del Burns will serve as interim superintendent for the second time; he also served between Rhodes and Martin, who started in October. Burns was the superintendent of Wake County schools from 2006-10, before he resigned.

Before joining the Orange County Schools, Martin had led McDowell County Schools in the west central section of the state since July 2012. She was one of 30 candidates considered for the Orange County position.

She has nearly 28 years’ experience in education, a master’s degree in educational leadership from Appalachian State University and a doctorate of education leadership and cultural foundations from UNC Greensboro.

Orange County Schools has about 7,600 students in 13 schools and an operating budget of $65 million.

Alexander: 919-932-2008; Twitter: @jonmalexander1

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