Mon, Feb

Mingus fires superintendent

Education News

The Mingus Union High School District voted 4-1 to terminate Eric Harmon’s contract as interim superintendent during a special meeting Jan. 11.

Harmon’s contract would have been up June. As of Jan. 12, however, Harmon was out of his office, having been put on home assignment until his last day, Friday, Feb. 10.

“They gave no reason,” Harmon said on Monday, Jan. 23, adding that he had not been offered a strong contract from the beginning. “It said they had the option to unilaterally terminate me .... [and] they opted to exercise that. I can’t even begin to speculate why.”

Harmon did speculate, however, noting that his contract had not been up for review prior to Jan. 4 — the day he submitted a letter to the board, telling them that he would not be applying for the permanent position of superintendent.

According to Harmon, two days before the Jan. 11 meeting, members of the board paid him a visit, informing him that there would be a motion to unilaterally terminate him. He was offered the option of resigning instead.

Unable to obtain legal counsel in time to submit resignation material that pleased him, Harmon informed the board of his decision. Thereafter, he noticed that a review of his contract had been added to the board’s agenda 48 hours prior to the meeting.

“In unison, the four said it was in the best interest of the district,” Harmon said, referring to President Anita Glazar and Governing Board members Robb Williams, Lori Drake and James Ledbetter, adding that he had initially been offered 30 days plus a six-week severance package.

That severance package has now been reduced to two weeks, according to Harmon.

“At this point, I don’t even know if I’ll be signing it,” Harmon said of the contract. “I may have to end up litigating over some of this stuff.”

Harmon said that while he cannot read the minds of the board members who voted to let him go, he had never had a good working relationship with the board. Recently, Harmon began exploring comprehensive curriculum changes and the possibility of using bond money to better integrate technology.

“I just was getting no sense that any of that was important to the district .... Their agenda is other than that,” Harmon said. “Change is uncomfortable. I just didn’t sense the support to get into a focused situation. Everything I did do was opposed.”

According to Harmon, the obstruction of his efforts were the ultimate reason he chose not to apply for the permanent superintendent position. Regardless, he said that he enjoyed working with the high school and had tried to see a future in the district.

Harmon said he has been placed in a difficult position, with months left on a lease. He will likely be applying to similar positions within the state soon.

Now, the school district is looking to replace Harmon with a transitional interim superintendent. At the Jan. 19 special meeting, the board discussed an employment contract for the position, but no word on a candidate has been forthcoming.

Glazar could not be reached by press time for comment.

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