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Published: Wednesday, May 16, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Darrington schools to OK $440K to superintendent

The former Darrington superintendent could receive a settlement for legal fees and to buy out his contract.

DARRINGTON -- At its meeting Thursday evening, the school board expects to OK a final $440,000 settlement with former superintendent Larry Johnson.
Johnson, 60, successfully fought his firing and was set to contest his contract termination date.
Johnson had been on paid administrative leave for more than a year and a half.
Darrington School Board spokesman Alan Pickard said the school district's attorney advised that the settlement was best for the district.
The settlement pays Johnson's attorney fees of $230,000. It also provides about $210,000 for a buyout out of Johnson's contract, including benefits.
"While very costly, the resignation marks an end to a long, distracting and painful process. It provides the district and the Darrington community closure and an opportunity to move forward and heal," Pickard said. "It allows the board to expand our focus to education and what is in the best interest for our students and staff."
In October 2010, the school district's finance director collapsed at Johnson's home in Darrington and later died at an Everett hospital. Experts determined her death was caused by a drug overdose.
Sheriff's investigators found no evidence of foul play or of a crime in the death. However, the school district's investigation raised questions about Johnson's relationship with the employee.
The school board fired Johnson in February 2011. Johnson appealed the termination. In March 2012, a hearing officer found that Johnson was wrongfully fired from his job, and the small district was ordered to pay Johnson's legal fees.
While waiting for the appeal hearing, the Darrington School Board told Johnson that his contract would not be renewed. Johnson brought a lawsuit contending that his contract ran through June 2013.
The district's insurance company has agreed to make a contribution to the settlement.

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.
Story tags » Darrington School DistrictLabor dispute

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