The Bibb County school board voted 7-1 Monday night in a called meeting to end Superintendent Romain Dallemands contract.
Board member Lester Miller was the only dissenting vote. Acting board President Sue Sipe, along with board members Wanda West, Ella Carter, Lynn Farmer, Tom Hudson, Thelma Dillard and Jason Downey voted in favor of cutting ties with Dallemand.
Under terms of the agreement, the school system will pay Dallemand a lump sum of $350,000, with Monday serving as his last official day on the job. However, according to the severance agreement, he must continue to report to work until the money is transferred to his account. In addition, Dallemand must be available to the school board president until June 30 to ease the transition.
Most of the nearly hour-and-a-half meeting was behind closed doors. Dallemand was not present for the public board vote.
This was a mutual and amicable decision reached between the board and the superintendent, Sipe said in a statement. The members of the board wish Dr. Dallemand great success in his future endeavors.
Board members did not comment further on Dallemands buyout, citing a clause in the agreement that prohibits board members from discussing the deal.
The school board plans to make a statement about its next steps in finding a new schools chief during its regular monthly meeting Thursday, Downey said.
The Rev. Ronald Terry of New Fellowship Baptist Church, a strong Dallemand supporter, said he was disappointed by the outcome of Mondays meeting.
Im disturbed, Im perplexed and I had hoped ... the hatchet had been buried, Terry said.
Terry said Dallemand was an advocate for Bibb Countys children. With Dallemands departure, the children are going to be the ones that lose out, he said.
However, Angel Davis-Hopper, a former Bibb school board candidate and Dallemand critic, said the buyout means a fresh start for the districts students and teachers.
Its past time, she said. Its past time.
Though board members didnt give any verbal statements after the meeting, West, Carter, Hudson and Dillard signed a written statement that included highlights from Dallemands tenure, including preparing the district for accreditation, providing Common Core Georgia Performance Standards training for teachers and starting Mandarin Chinese courses in Bibb schools.
Talk of a possible buyout had rumbled for weeks.
Last month, sources told The Telegraph that Dallemand approached board members in a closed session on Jan. 17 about a buyout, saying he thought it was time for him to leave the system.
Later, however, Dallemand told local media he planned to finish out the terms of his three-year contract, which was to end in December 2015.
Monday night, Bibb County Commission Chairman Sam Hart said the school board now needs to move forward.
I thought (Dallemand) came with a great idea, but he had to have the support of the board, Hart said.
Efforts to reach Macon Mayor Robert Reichert for comment were not successful.
Since he took the helm of Bibb schools in February 2011, Dallemand introduced major changes across the 24,000-student system, often stirring controversy.
His Macon Miracle plan, aimed at improving student achievement through sweeping changes such as Mandarin Chinese instruction for students and an extended learning day, passed in a 5-3 vote last March, but not before public outcry. The systems expenses on new furniture, as well as the costs of Dallemands travel, also have drawn criticism.
The Dallemand administration also has drawn scrutiny over how its handled the states open records and meeting laws. A complaint from The Telegraph to the state Attorney Generals Office about open record requests prompted a visit from the offices senior assistant attorney general in May.
Others have criticized him for not being transparent with the board and not putting enough of an emphasis on student safety and discipline.
Most recently, the school system has been in court over two lawsuits, including one that challenged the legality of Dallemands contract. A resident contended the terms of the contract the board voted on last December did not match the contract Dallemand actually signed.
The other lawsuit, brought by Ron Collier, the school systems former chief financial officer, tried to stop lease payments to the Macon Promise Center, arguing the payments violated state law.
A judge rejected the request for an injunction Feb. 15, as the courts previously approved the lease during a bond validation. The lease of $5.75 million over 10 years supports renovations and bond payments on the Macon Promise Center, which will house programs aimed at improving the lives of students and families in the Unionville and Tindall Heights neighborhoods.
The judge, however, has not heard whistle-blower arguments in Colliers case. Collier also contends the superintendent punished him after he asked questions about a check that would go toward the Macon Promise program and eventually demoted him to a director position.
Dallemands buyout is not the first time in recent years the Bibb County school board bought out the superintendents contract. The board approved a $198,000 lump-sum settlement with former Superintendent Sharon Patterson in February 2010.
The board bought out Pattersons contract in the middle of an ethics probe by the Professional Standards Commission over whether she failed to report principal misconduct. Patterson had been Bibb Countys superintendent for 10 years when she left the system.
In March 2012, the PSC retroactively suspended Pattersons teaching certificate for 90 days.
Telegraph writer Andy M. Drury contributed to this report. To contact writer Andrea Castillo, call 744-4331.