Education

Amid financial questions, Durham superintendent resigns

Posted December 19, 2013
Updated December 20, 2013

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— Eric Becoats announced his plan Thursday night to resign as superintendent of Durham Public Schools effective Dec. 31, 2013. He has been under scrutiny in recent months for financial management missteps that range from the use of a school bus to transport family and friends to the underestimate, by $15 million, of the school system budget.  

Becoats, who was under contract until June 30, 2016, will get a one-time severance payment of $298,072.54.

In August, the Durham County Board of Education reprimanded Becoats for his use of a district school bus and driver to take his family and friends to private events.

In November, the board ended a policy of issuing credit cards for employee business expenses after a review of Becoats' bills showed thousands of dollars in personal charges over a period of about a year.

Just this week, Board Chairwoman Heidi Carter faulted Becoats' communication about the district budget.

"We presented a case that said we were poor," an embarrassed and angry Carter said Tuesday. "We were coming to the commissioners, saying the financial status of our district is that we have these extra needs and we have no where to turn to find the funding to meet those needs. Now, we find that actually we probably had ample funding to meet the needs we had built into our budget. That's disturbing to the Board of Education as well as to the commissioners."

A recent audit determined that the district's fund balance is $19.7 million, almost five times the $4 million level school board members believed it to be based on data Becoats provided.

Becoats came to Durham in April 2010 from the Guilford County Schools. Before that, he worked as a school administrator and planner for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Baltimore City Public Schools.

In a statement to the board after his resignation was accepted, Becoats thanked his supporters and others.

"Regardless of who sits in that chair of superintendent, there are three Cs that I would bring: Compromise, commitment and collaboration. That's what's required to move the district forward. My hope is that this community will continue to do that important work," he said.

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  • HANS FOR PRESIDENT!!!!! JK Dec 20, 2013

    @678, he wasn't fired, he resigned with a fat severance. What's with you today? You typically aren't very logical but today is REALLY not on your side

  • gingerlynn Dec 20, 2013

    he resigned with a 300k golden parachute.

  • 678devilish Dec 20, 2013

    oops fired? He resigned. The best choice and favor to Durham. May others out consider not hiring this man for he cannot be trusted.

  • raleighboy524 Dec 20, 2013

    When all is said and done, much of the blame lies at the feet of the school board for (1) hiring him despite his sketchy past record and (2) not firing him after his earlier shenanigans. Every school board member still on the board who voted to hire him should resign NOW!

  • raleighboy524 Dec 20, 2013

    I'm sure the buyout was a clause in his contract. The lesson here: no more such clauses in the contracts of future superintendents. If candidates for the job can't accept that provision, they can move along and find work somewhere else. Durham also needs to base pay on very specific, very firm performance standards for the superintendent and district. If the superintendent falls short, his pay is docked until there's a turnaround.

  • 678devilish Dec 20, 2013

    Glad to see that he was fired. He was totally wrong in his doings and he knows it. Good job board for firing this man who just thought he would get away with it.

  • Obamacare for one and all Dec 20, 2013

    Now he has the money and the time to buy and enjoy his own personal party bus.

  • lmirage3 Dec 20, 2013

    Did he repay the money he spent on the credit cards or the use of the bus for his family and friends? If not, then that should come out of his "severance" pay. What a joke!

  • DurhamDevil Dec 20, 2013

    "Durham and Becoats deserve each other."
    itlsss

    The students in DPS do not - they are innocent victims.

  • DurhamDevil Dec 20, 2013

    Anyone who knows Jim Key would support him for the superintendent position, however 2 questions arise...

    Is the school board willing to put credentials above demographics?

    Is Jim Key willing to take on such an arduous and thankless job?

More...