Richland Two pays out $615,000 to resigned superintendent

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Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 10:47 AM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The former superintendent of Richland County School District Two is receiving $615,000 dollars in his settlement agreement.

On Jan. 17 the district accepted Dr. Baron Davis’ resignation after a six-hour meeting. The board said the decision to separate was a mutual decision and was unanimously accepted.

Davis held the position from 2017 until his resignation. The contract was not set to expire until 2026.

WIS requested a copy of the agreement, the district has released the full details of the settlement with Davis. The full text is embedded below.

The separation agreement includes a payout of $415,518.68, less payroll deductions. He additionally receives a payout for all his unused sick leave and vacation days at $124,481.32. He also is receiving a payout of $75,000 which is cited as a “settlement for all disputed claims.” In total it amounts to $615,000.

The agreement also states Davis is eligible for additional compensation related to providing assistance to the district in regard to pending or future litigation. He would be compensated at an hourly rate based on his existing pay.

On Jan. 17, 2023, the board voted to accept Davis’ resignation and authorized Board Chair Lindsay Agostini to execute an agreement with him.

The board members did not make any comments about the resignation leading into the vote.

The agreement shows board members signed on Jan. 19, and the board meeting video shows there was no vote on the agreement at the meeting that evening.

Davis’ contract included a clause that allowed the district to pay Davis 18 months’ salary if it chose to unilaterally fire him. Davis’ salary was $254,681, which would have created a buy-out of $382,021.50.

On Monday, Agostini declined to discuss the creation of the agreement, stating it was discussed in the executive session.

Davis’ attorney Donald Gist said in light of turmoil on the board, Davis determined it was in his best interest to enter into the agreement.

“He loved his students and the administration of Richland School District number two and he wished the district well,” he said.

Gist declined elaborate on the significance of the lump sum but did give some insight on the $75,000 portion of the settlement.

“That would have been any other claims that dealt with any issues of emotional distress. It would have been any other claims that could have come into play aside from the contractual issues,” he said.

He later stated:

“He was under a tremendous amount of stress during his tenure there. I think the world knows that,” he said.

Director of Governmental Affairs for the Palmetto State Teachers Association Patrick Kelly is a Richland 2 teacher. He spoke with WIS about the agreement in his role with the PSTA.

He said he didn’t begrudge Davis for the size of the settlement, but said ensuring district resources go to helping students is important.

“This is a good example of the fact that we need to have hard conversations in our states and in our districts about where education funding is going,” he said.

Richland 2′s pay scale shows first-year teachers are paid $52,076 max.

He expressed concern about the recent turnover of superintendents in the area.

“So much of that is related to the hyper-politicization of local education over the last two to three years,” he said.

He said the turnover undermines efforts to get traction on issues like safety and staff retention.


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