Grier’s Gone: The search…and the golden parachute

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

(Rhino Times)

I’d figure I run this cartoon again because we may have a golden parachute situation going on here, if we don’t get some questions answered in the next several days.

Terry Grier (technically) is still on contract with Guilford County Schools. But, in a San Diego Union-Tribune article from the other day, a U-T reporter said: Although Grier won’t officially start his job until July 1, he plans to make several working trips to San Diego in the interim. He’s also developing what he calls a “100-day entry plan.”

And judging from the comments we’ve received here over the past couple of days, you all are sharing the same concerns.

So…will he be taking these trips on OUR dime or San Diego’s dime? Or both? If we cut ties with Grier now, what kinds of incentives does he walk away with? We need these questions answered because the taxpayers have the right to know what’s going on.

Today’s lead editorial in the News & Record ponders the same thing and echoes some of my sentiments about the upcoming search:

Conduct open search

Thursday, Jan. 24, 2008 
It shouldn’t be hard for the Guilford County school board to devise a good plan for selecting a new superintendent: It can do what Charlotte-Mecklenburg did two years ago.

North Carolina’s largest system relied on public input at the beginning and end of its search, eventually putting its three finalists through a series of open meetings with community groups.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. The process was thorough and grueling, Board of Education Chairman Joe White said Tuesday. “We are pleased with the result,” he added.

One of those finalists was Guilford County Superintendent Terry Grier, who accepted the top school position in San Diego Saturday. So, the Guilford board has to find a replacement.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Grier withdrew before the Charlotte-Mecklenburg board chose Peter Gorman, who emerged as a favorite among those who participated in the public examination of the finalists. White said that input was important to his evaluation and helped make sure the new superintendent would be accepted by the community.

The board held private interviews with nine or 10 semifinalists, White said, but told them the three finalists would have to agree to public identification. That puts candidates in a “very unfair situation,” White admitted, because of problems it can cause them in their current jobs. “Some were very reluctant,” he said, but none backed out.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Guilford school board Vice Chairman Amos Quick, who began meeting with teachers and principals Tuesday soliciting their ideas about the selection, said community input will be important “early, continuously and particularly toward the end,” when the field of candidates is whittled down. Community buy-in is critical, he said.

Timing presents concerns. November’s school board election might transpire before the superintendent search is completed. As many as six seats could turn over. Should the board wait until a new cast is assembled before hiring a superintendent?

“Had I been going off the board, I would have wanted the person replacing me to make that decision,” White, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg chairman, said.

That also could save the new superintendent the awkward experience of suddenly finding himself or herself with unfamiliar bosses.

“There could be some merit in waiting,” Quick said. But some risk, too, if strong candidates get away in the meantime. Before going that far, the board has more immediate decisions to make, Chairman Alan Duncan said Wednesday. One is to “straighten out what our relationship with Terry is going to be.” That might result in his departure before his July 1 official start date in San Diego and the installment of an interim superintendent sooner rather than later. Duncan expressed confidence in the abilities of current senior staff members to carry on.

Whatever decisions the board considers, it will assure better outcomes if it provides opportunities for public participation.


As I said, why this is not even an agenda item for Saturday’s Board retreat is baffling.

E.C. 🙂


11 Responses

  1. The silence from the highly-compensated GCS Public Relations Executive is deafening. Any reason why she hasn’t provided the public any information, as it seems to be her job?

    Why would GCS be responsible for terminating Grier’s contract now? He is the one that sought and accepted another position in the midst of a ling-term contract. He is the one that has broken his contract, not GCS. What is the mysterious power that Grier continues to hold over this board?

  2. Sonya Conway (district relations) and Chad Campbell (media relations) are Grier’s lieutenants. All you’re going to get out of them is the company line (spin), if anything at all.

  3. Stormy, that’s the big question – why does Dr. Grier continue to have such a hold on this school board?

    As you pointed out, Grier is the one who chose to terminate the relationship, despite being under contract with GCS for another two years. I’m no lawyer, but I would think that would be more than ample cause for the board to relieve him of his duties immediately with no additional pay. Instead, the board is letting Grier continue to collect a paycheck while he’s telling the San Diego newspaper that he’s working on big plans for their school system. I’m sorry, but no one can do both jobs at once.

    Here’s my biggest problem with the situation: Why didn’t the school board address this sooner?

    Superintendents change jobs all the time. Why wasn’t this situation addressed in Grier’s GCS contract years ago? The school board has a highly-paid attorney who is supposed to take care of these sorts of things. Did the school board think Grier was going to be superintendent forever?

    Alan Duncan’s words to the N&R tell you all you need to know : the school board is going to “straighten out what our relationship with Terry is going to be.” That relationship should have been straightened out BEFORE Terry Grier ever signed a GCS contract.

    Instead, the school board is going to take its sweet time to figure this out, while Terry Grier collects a paycheck to work on San Diego’s schools at our expense. I really can’t fault Grier – if the school board is gullible enough to let him get away with this, it’s hard to blame him for taking advantage of their poor leadership.

  4. What is the penalty for Grier breaking his contract? He’s contractually obligated to GC until 2010–so now that’s he’s broken the contract, what happens?–nothing???

    Our BOE needs to get a backbone, Get him outta here NOW, and enforce whatever penalty there is–please tell me there is one. Why would we need a “contract” with our superintendent if there is no penalty for breaking it?

    We should not pay this man another penny. I’d rather be Super-less than pay him for another day.

  5. This matter only highlights the inability of this group to do anything of substance. They putter around issues and problems like a committee from a retirement home. If these people can not be trusted to deal proactively with matters like this, no way that I trust them with $1/2 billion of bond funds to squander. They’ve never held Grier accountable for anything. And, every time that he interviewed for another job, they would beg him not to leave and give him more money and extend his contract. What brave and courageous representatives of the people!

  6. Having said that, will give Garth and Darlene a pass for now to see if they can take control of this board and get it headed in the right direction. I no longer have any confidence in the rest to do the right thing.

  7. Agreed, Stormy – the school board has proven they can’t be trusted to do the right thing. Not that their hearts aren’t in the right place, but they seem incapable of making any tough decisions.

    Case in point: As today’s Rhino Times reveals, the board and its attorney dropped the ball with Dr. Grier’s contract. The board should have included some sort of language that addresses what would happen if Grier resigned to take another job. After all, it’s a fair common occurrence.

    But no such language is included, the Rhino reveals. So that opens the door for Terry Grier to hang around here (perhaps as long as until July 1), work on his San Diego plans and continue to collect his six-figure Guilford County paycheck. At the very least, he’ll get paid for a few more weeks while the school board figures out what to do next., when they should’ve had this figured out a long time ago.

    And what does this say about the school board’s attorney? She gets paid a lot of money for her legal expertise. Shouldn’t she have advised the board to include something in Grier’s contract that would address his resignation?

  8. whoa whoa…I’m working on a lengthy piece on this week’s Rhino as I speak….I saw it, and I’m very angry and upset. I’m hot! Stand by…

  9. lol Erik

    I adore the RT. Miss Jana B though.

    The RT is the best hope I’ve ever seen in this town on many levels.

    I wouldn’t use the N&R for toilet paper, it’s rough as it is.

  10. HELP Grier is now our Super and we are a broken system!!! We are laying off and pink slipping educators and he’s implemented 18 positions that will cost our district 1.5 mill a year…. Can we have details! We are disgusted!!! San Diego Unified!!!

  11. San Diego Unified = SDU

    In the upcoming election can we count on your support in voting for John Lee Evans District A and Shiela Jackson District E?


    Grier has made some interesting decisions with all layoffs.

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