The contract was reaffirmed by the district’s board after the county’s top education official said the initial passing of the deal broke the law.
STOCKTON, Calif. — The Stockton Unified School District will pay former Superintendent John Ramirez Jr. a monthly salary of nearly $23,750 for nine more months under a contract released publicly for the first time and re-approved by five of the district’s trustees Tuesday.
The agreement was initially approved by the district in a closed-door meeting directly following Ramirez’s resignation in June, a move the San Joaquin County’s top education official said violated the law.
In a letter to the Stockton Unified Board of Trustees and the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office obtained by ABC10, San Joaquin County Superintendent of Schools Troy Brown said by approving the contract during a closed session of a board meeting and not orally reporting the action when back in open session, the school board violated the Brown Act.
“The Stockton Unified School District Governing Board violated important rights when it took this illegal action on June 9, 2022,” the letter said. “Failure of the District to cure and correct these violations of the Brown Act may necessitate further interventions, including seeking judicial invalidation of the challenged action.”
Ramirez’s resignation agreement went before the board for a second time Tuesday but this time during the public portion of the meeting.
Trustees Cecilia Mendez, Scot McBrian, Alicia Rico, Ray Zulueta Jr. and Zachary Avelar voted to reaffirm the contract, which offers Ramirez his annual salary of $285,000 for a year after the date he resigned.
The contract also offers Ramirez his existing benefits, excluding a travel stipend and vacation days. The agreement says Ramirez will hold the title of “Superintendent Emeritus” and will report to the district’s board.
In a description of the agreement on the board’s agenda Tuesday, the district said it disagreed that their action violated the law.
“While the District does not agree that there was a violation of the Brown Act, it is nevertheless recommended that the Board reaffirm its approval of the Agreement,” the agenda item says. “It is clarified, though, that Mr. Ramirez’s title of “Emeritus Superintendent” is reflective of his resignation and not of an employment position, and that the compensation under the Agreement is severance, not salary for services rendered.”
While the Board publicly reaffirmed the contract, Brown said in a statement he is still disappointed with the district. He says while the district’s board calls the contract a resignation agreement, the contract itself is also an employment agreement.
“It is disappointing that the SUSD Governing Board refuses to accept that it violated the Brown Act,” Brown said in a statement. “The agreement is clearly also an employment agreement in that it includes Ramirez serving and reporting directly to the board, providing transition assistance; indicates duties will be assigned by the Board President; and provides the option to terminate his employment under certain conditions.”
Brown recommends the school board receive additional Brown Act training.