Decatur school board to pay former superintendent by May 31, reaffirms successor

City Schools of Decatur Board of Education and former Superintendent David Dude “mutually agreed” to end Dude’s contract, according to a transition agreement signed by Dude April 26 and by the board April 27. 

Dude’s contract was slated to end June 30, 2021 but ended early as Dude was amid lawsuits alleging misuse of vacation days. 

According to the agreement, Dude will be paid through the end of his contract, receive a payout for unused vacation and sick days, be reimbursed for his payments into life and long-term disability insurance and receive family medical insurance through Aug. 31. The district has until May 31 to make the payments, per the agreement.

“Even as we focus on our students, the Board remains committed to working through the issues and challenges that have impacted our school system over the past year. This includes the investigation by an independent 3rd party, McGuireWoods law firm, who has worked diligently to thoroughly inquire into our former Superintendent’s use of vacation time,” the district stated.  “…The still-pending lawsuits and agreement with Dr. Dude impact what the Board can communicate, but we are committed to keeping our community advised as we move forward.”

Following the news of Dude’s separation, the board named Maggie Fehrman, former assistant and current interim superintendent, as a “finalist” for superintendent of school, though no search was conducted.

A superintendent hiring policy could not be located in the district’s board manual. CSD spokesperson Courtney Burnett said the district previously used a search firm, and that state language requires school districts to refer to the potential successor as a “finalist” though no other candidates may have been considered.

The district released the following statement April 30:  

“As we considered how to proceed with leadership of the district, we knew Dr. Fehrman to be eminently qualified, and felt confident she could immediately hit the ground running and focus on our present concerns and ensure a strong start to the school year,” the district stated April 30. “We believe it is in the best interest of our system and our children to enter into a one-year contract with Dr. Fehrman to lead us through the 2021-2022 school year, during which time we—and the board that will be elected later this year—can take stock and determine next steps for the future. This provides a seamless transition, certainty, and stability at this critical time, as Dr. Fehrman has already stepped into the role of Interim Superintendent without missing a beat.”

The board is expected to vote on Fehrman’s one-year contract at its May 11 regular meeting.

***EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been updated to provide a clarification.

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