Salt Lake City will pay former schools superintendent $200,000 under separation agreement

Timothy Gadson III will be paid his full salary for consulting even if school board members don’t request any work from him.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Then the new Salt Lake City School District superintendent, Timothy Gadson III toured East High School on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021.

The Salt Lake City School District will pay former superintendent Timothy Gadson III about $200,000 — with most of that money for consulting he may or may not provide — under an agreement approved by school board members Tuesday.

Gadson, who started working for the district in July 2021, was placed on leave by the board in July. His September resignation for personal reasons went into effect on Oct. 1, with the board then saying it “has asked Dr. Gadson to remain on in the capacity of a consultant.”

The separation agreement makes it clear that Gadson is no longer a district employee, and says he will receive $20,660 in unused vacation time and $7,231 for unused personal hours.

The agreement also says the board can — but “shall not be obligated to” — request consulting services from Gadson from October through June 2023, when his original contract was scheduled to end.

In exchange for his availability — “regardless of the amount of consulting services actually provided,” the agreement states, “Dr. Gadson shall be paid the amount of $18,251.58 per month, on a monthly basis.”

That amount is the equivalent of what Gadson would have been paid per month under his original employment contract, which included a salary of $220,000 a year.

The district also will cover the cost Gadson’s health care coverage under COBRA, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, until the end of the agreement.

It will pay $15,000 to his attorneys at Salt Lake City-based law firm Stindberg and Scholnick.

It is unclear what type of consulting Gadson may provide; the agreement refers to him being available for “consulting services to the Board and to allow for the transfer of institutional knowledge to the Board’s administrative designees.”

The agreement notes the board will give Gadson “written reports showing the disaggregated academic performance, discipline and graduation rates of the district’s students for the 2021-22 school year.”

Former Granite School District superintendent Martin Bates has taken over for Gadson in an interim role while the board searches for a permanent replacement. Bates will earn a similar salary to Gadson — $220,000 a year, or $18,333 per month — for as long as he works in the role, district spokesperson Yándary Chatwin said.

Board members placed Gadson, the state’s first Black superintendent, on leave and offered him a severance payment in July. The board ultimately announced Gadson’s resignation in an emergency meeting on Sept. 23 after he requested mediation.

Gadson is the second consecutive superintendent to have resigned from the post; the district hired him to replace Lexi Cunningham — who resigned but was actually pushed out, according to a former board member — in 2021.

As for why Gadson resigned, the agreement does not expand on the “personal reasons,” the board cited in its statement at the emergency meeting on Sept. 28, when the agreement was given to him.

The agreement requires that Gadson release any legal claims he had against the district and that he “agrees that he is waiving the right to monetary damages.” Gadson was awarded $800,000 as part of a settlement of a lawsuit against a district in Georgia that he said discriminated against him because of his race.

Chatwin said the district will use money annually built into the budget for unexpected expenses to pay for Gadson’s salary in the consulting role.

A trip Gadson took to private religious Grand Canyon University in Arizona in January, concerns from parents and others about several of his administrator hires, and responses to an employee survey alleging he has treated district employees disrespectfully caused the board to question his standing, The Salt Lake Tribune has reported.

However, his defenders have pointed to missteps by the district’s human resources department and argued that racism is behind many of the complaints. Board member Mohamed Baayd has said the board made little effort to coach him through his mistakes, and instead, officials and board members started building a plan to move on from him well before the trip to Grand Canyon University.