Clayton Schools paying outgoing superintendent $200,000-plus in separation

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

Clayton County Schools will pay outgoing Superintendent Morcease Beasley more than $200,000 to separate from the district he has led for the past five years.

Beasley, whose last day with the school system is Friday, will be paid $174,192 in pre-tax salary and a little more than $16,000 for an annuity, according to a separation agreement obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution through the Georgia Open Records Act.

The money is the remainder of Beasley’s $326,000 annual salary, which expires June 30. The school system will also continue to pay Beasley’s insurance until the completion of his contract and $1,700 for the balance of his annual leave.

Beasley announced in November that he planned to step down from the district’s top job at the end of his contract next summer.

“Thank you to all for the kind words, emails, sentiments, and prayers for continued success on the journey as I prepare to transition from Clayton County as Superintendent,” Beasley said in a tweet after word began leaking out about his plans to leave. “It’s been an honor and privilege to serve this community.”

The Clayton County Board of Education, however, struck an agreement for Beasley to leave earlier by buying out his contract. In that agreement, the board said it would not disclose the terms of the separation or other information unless compelled to by the Georgia Open Records Act.

“If the board or superintendent is asked about superintendent’s separation they will simply say that the parties mutually agreed to end the employment early,” the separation agreement said.

At the board’s Dec. 5 meeting school board chairwoman Jessie Goree followed the script, saying, “We mutually agreed with Dr. Beasley on a separation so he will conclude this semester.”

Anthony Smith, the school system’s deputy superintendent of governmental relations, partnerships, grants and operations, has been named interim superintendent. Smith, who was paid about $204,000 annually as the deputy superintendent, will make $315,000 in his role as interim superintendent, according to the documents.

The board has not said when it plans to begin its search for a new permanent superintendent.

Beasley was widely praised by the Clayton school board and residents of the south metro Atlanta community over his guidance during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While other districts opened school buildings for students to come back for in-person instruction in the fall of 2020, Clayton — with a mostly minority population — remained virtual because of concerns over the disproportionate impact COVID-19 was having on Black and Latino families.

Beasley, however, was criticized at the end of last year over his handling of a rash of weapons found on Clayton campuses and buses. The district banned the use of lockers and bookbags in April after months of knives, guns, tasers and even an AR-15 assault rifle on campuses forced leaders to make the problem public.

Students were required to carry clear backpacks when they returned to class in August for the 2022-2023 academic year.