PLEASANTON, Calif. – A California school board fired its superintendent after only six months on the job, and agreed to a $256,000 payout, but refuse to explain the decision to local taxpayers.
The Pleasanton Unified School District fired superintendent Rick Rubino in a closed-door meeting on Friday amid an investigation into a “personnel matter” launched in December, a move that comes just six months into his tenure in the district, the Pleasanton Weekly reports.
Because the board fired Rubino without cause it is required to pay him a year’s salary and benefits, as stipulated in his three year contract approved unanimously by the board in May.
“Both the board of education and Mr. Rubino believe it is in the organization’s best interest to move forward with the process of securing new leadership,” board president Joan Laursen wrote in a prepared statement cited by the East Bay Times. “The board’s decision was based on our strong belief that this was not a good fit for our organization.”
Board members refused to discuss the reason for the termination, but Laursen said it opted to fire Rubino before the completion of a third party investigation that started Dec. 19, when the board voted to place him on administrative leave.
“It is the board’s responsibility to foster a positive culture and to promote strong, collegial leadership,” Laursen said. “We felt that change was necessary and we wanted to move on this as quickly and responsibly as possible.
“The community has every right to be disappointed, most certainly, the board is disappointed. We believe that facing this disappointment, boldly taking action that is in the best interest of all involved, and informing our community in a timely and forthright manner is the best first step toward rebuilding that trust,” she said.
According to the Times:
Rubino was approved by the board in April and took the helm on July 1, with a salary of $265,000 a year. Rubino left a four-year position as superintendent of the Gridley Unified schools in Butte County. He previously worked as an assistant of personnel services for the Martinez Unified School District and director of personnel at Mt. Diablo Unified.
In addition to a year’s salary, Rubino will also take home health benefits worth $8,400, as well as pay for vacation days, reimbursement for mileage and life insurance. PUSD’s deputy superintendent of business services, Micaela Ochoa, is now serving as interim superintendent in Rubino’s absence. She’s the fourth person to serve in that role since the spring of 2015, the Pleasanton Weekly reports.
It’s unclear how much the board spend on the independent investigation focused on the superintendent.
Laursen told the news site the board will discuss options for a permanent replacement “at the earliest opportunity during an upcoming board meeting.”
“We want to assure our community this has our full and focused attention,” she said. “The board is fully committed to identify and secure leadership who will continue the excellent work underway in our schools.”
Aside from the superintendent changeover, the school board has also replaced principals in eight of the district’s 15 schools, Pleasanton Weekly reports.