The Burlington news outlet, Times-News, is appealing the dismissal of their suit to obtain records of a special closed-door session of the an Alamance-Burlington school board meeting that dealt with the resignation of the Superintendent Lillie Cox.
The Times-News sued Oct. 24 to get unredacted minutes of closed-session meetings the Alamance-Burlington Board of Education held in May. Those meetings led to Cox’s resignation May 30 as superintendent of the Alamance-Burlington School System.
Four members of the school board voted to accept her resignation at a special meeting May 30 and to pay her $200,000 in severance. Neither Cox nor the board has explained the reasons for the resignation. The board has cited employee confidentiality.
The school board did supply heavily redacted minutes of these meetings before the suit was filed. The redacted minutes don’t comply with North Carolina’s public records act because they don’t enable “a person not in attendance (to) have reasonable understanding of what transpired” in the closed sessions, the newspaper’s complaint argued.
–Times-News, December 31, 2014
With regard to Cox’s contract, it began July of 2011 and was supposed to run through the end of June of 2015. Per WRAL’s outline of Cox’s contract, her total compensation was $200,452 which was made up of $128,148 state dollars and $72,304 local dollars. In the contract, there was a $5,000 annual bonus which was dependent on the board’s evaluation of her performance.
The contract also states that the board was to conduct an annual appraisal of Cox each October. News-Times might want to gain access to those reports.
The resignation clause states a 90 day advance notice warning. There is a ‘unilateral termination’ clause in the contract which has within it the severance dollar figure of $200,000 reported by the Times-News.
In an exit interview conducted by Time-News with Cox, her final answer to their questions seemed to indicate that the board had perhaps ousted her (emphasis added):
TIMES-NEWS: What can you say publicly about what has happened between you and the board of education in the past few months leading up to your resignation?
COX: I received an email from the board attorney that the majority of the board wanted to go in a different direction. No concerns were ever discussed with me. The board attorney asked me to continue all responsibilities and duties as superintendent through June 30th, and I did that. The board paid me the maximum payout amount allowable in my contract.
–Times-News, July 2, 2014
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