By Mary O’KEEFE
In a surprise move on Wednesday, a notice from the Glendale Unified School District stated Superintendent Dr. Winfred Roberson Jr. was released from his contract “without cause” effective immediately.
“It is a process,” said GUSD Board President Greg Krikorian. “The board decided it was time for new leadership, and we have a plan to move the district forward in a positive way.”
The 3-2 vote was conducted at a closed session meeting held on Tuesday. The agenda described the meeting as a “Public Employee Performance Evaluation. Title Superintendent of Schools.” It continued with “Public Employee Retention/Release.” A previous closed session meeting on Jan. 23 was also held with the performance evaluation of the superintendent on the agenda.
Roberson, whose contract with GUSD was from April 1, 2016 to March 3, 2020, was released from that contract on Jan. 29. The board members who voted to release the superintendent were Krikorian and board members Armina Gharpetian and Shant Sahakian. Those voting against the release were Vice President Jennifer Freemon and member Nayiri Nahabedian.
This appears to be the first time any GUSD superintendent has been released in this manner. Krikorian said he had been involved with the district through the last five superintendents and this was the first in his memory of this type of action.
“The board took this seriously to terminate his contract without cause,” he said.
Krikorian added there were several factors that went into the decision for the vote but could not go into specifics due to the confidentiality of the closed session.
According to Transparent California, Superintendent Roberson’s annual base salary was $255,000. As of press time, the District could not verify if or what the possible “buy out” of the superintendent’s contract might consist of.
The statement from the District stated the release of the Superintendent was “pursuant to contract paragraph 11(C).” That section of the contract allows the board “termination without cause.”
The district has been facing some tough issues lately including a student fight in October 2018 at Hoover High School that garnered a lot of media attention. Then the Glendale City Council voted against the property transfer that would have swapped the District office with a newer and larger building. Then there is the upcoming decision of the Sagebrush/Territory Transfer with La Cañada Unified School District (Sagebrush was an issue Roberson inherited from former Superintendent Richard Sheehan).
“Dr. Kelly King will act as interim superintendent while the board of education searches for a permanent superintendent. Dr. King has spent her 28-year career with GUSD, beginning as a teacher in 1990 and most recently serving as assistant superintendent of Educational Services,” according to the GUSD release.
“My level of confidence in this district is unparalleled. We will continue to focus on what is best for our students and provide our usual high level of service to our community throughout this transition,” stated Interim Superintendent Dr. King.
Krikorian stressed this decision by the board will not impact the day-to-day operations at district schools, adding the board will discuss during the next board meeting how it will move forward in a search for a new superintendent. The next board of education meeting is scheduled for Feb. 5 at 223 N. Jackson St. The agenda can be found 72 hours in advance of the meeting at www.gusd.net.