Severance payments common in NC superintendent contracts

Posted December 20, 2013
Updated December 21, 2013

— The nearly $300,000 in severance the Durham County Board of Education will pay outgoing Superintendent Eric Becoats was included in his contract, and other school leaders across North Carolina have similar stipulations.

Becoats, who has led Durham Public Schools for almost four years, announced Thursday night that he would resign on Dec. 31.

"Dr. Becoats and the board recognize that fundamental differences have arisen between the superintendent and the board over the best way to govern the Durham Public Schools," a resignation agreement hammered out behind closed doors states.

He was under contract until June 30, 2016, and the contract called for him to receive up to 18 months of salary if the school board fired him. The board agreed to pay him about that much in severance, with a lump sum of $298,072.54.

Superintendent contracts for the state's nine other largest school districts show four of them, including the Wake County Public School System, would be paid 12 months of severance, Johnston County Schools would pay out for 24 months and the the other four, including Cumberland County Schools, would be paid through the end of their contracts.

Becoats has been under scrutiny in recent months for financial management missteps.

The school board reprimanded him in August 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 district employee business expenses after a review of Becoats' bills showed thousands of dollars in personal charges over a period of about a year.

Eric Becoats contract Severance payments common in NC superintendent contracts

Earlier this week, Board Chairwoman Heidi Carter faulted Becoats for a $15 million error in the district budget that prompted the school board to plead for money from Durham County that it didn't need.

"My mission has not changed, nor has my vision," Becoats said after announcing his resignation. "Durham Public Schools, I say thank you for the opportunity to serve. One vision, one Durham."

Carter said parting with Becoats was a hard decision, adding that she and other board members will "come back next year with the resolve to do our very best work going forward."

Durham County Board of Commissioners Chairman Michael Page said he has mixed feelings about Becoats' resignation.

"I think he did some very good things for the school system, and I wish the two sides could have worked it out," Page said. "In the end, I have to live with the Board's decision."


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  • Objective Scientist Dec 26, 2013

    Continuing my last comment: I agree 100% with a previous poster that questions why Becoats receives a very nice "golden parachute" - sweet - deal to leave WHEN HE WAS IN THE WRONG!!! Contracts need to be written that protect out school systems and the state of NC! There are some situations in which a severance may be warranted... but the Becoats situation is NOT one of those. He clearly had NO "discipline" or "common-sense" when using the system issued credit cart. If he was so "dumb" as to use a school bus - even if he "re-paid" costs - to ferry personal friends and family around Durham... he should never have been hired in the first place. Then.... the coup de grace of "under-reporting" school monies by MILLIONS???? No way did this man deserve a severance payment. He should have been sent packing with an admonition... you try to "sue" for severance and we will "hang all the dirty laundry on the line for all to see", I suspect there is sufficient dirty laundry details!

  • Objective Scientist Dec 26, 2013

    "...fundamental differences have arisen between the superintendent and the board over the best way to govern the Durham Public Schools," - does that statement not greatly "oversimplify" the situation regarding Becoats? Apparently Becoats thought he should determine what is appropriate and what is not when it came to using the system issued credit card... as well as the private/personal use of a school bus. I'd say there was a disagreement!!! Furthermore I would hope any Board would "disapprove" of the Superintendent under-reporting a financial item by MILLIONS of dollars. I'm very disappointed that the vote of the Board regarding Becoat's resignations was split exactly along racial lines... with those of the same race as Becoats voting against acceptance of his resignation! Just because he is of the same race... should such deficiencies as he demonstrated be "overlooked"? Some good things may have been accomplished under him, but that does not mean you overlook serious negatives

  • lessismore Dec 23, 2013

    westernwake1.....don't forget, these are democrats.

  • lessismore Dec 23, 2013

    Yes, but not for criminal activity!!!!!!!

  • alwaysconcernedmom Dec 23, 2013

    He should be in jail and should have been fired. Sad that he still gets his pay and freedom after stealing from the children he was supposed to protect.

    He got rewarded for being a thief. And we wonder what is wrong in the world today.

  • westernwake1 Dec 20, 2013

    When a superintendent resigns or is fired with cause then he should not receive Severance. No contract should be written that allows for this in our state.