PB School Board could seek legal action against former Superintendent Art Johnson

He may be long-gone from his former position as Superintendent of Schools, but Art Johnson was still stirring up trouble during Wednesday's School Board meeting.

Johnson resigned in 2011 in lieu of being fired, signing a seperation agreement with the district on his way out. Last month, he was named the executive director of the Palm Beach County School Administrators Association. 

On Wednesday, the School Board questioned whether Johnson violated the seperation agreement by accepting the position. In a 4-3 vote, they approved hiring legal counsel to determine what action the School Board should take, if any.

The seperation agreement, according to board member Frank Barbieri, "is a total prohibition to have contact with any school board employee." 

But under his new role, Johnson would work to negotiate principal salaries. And that could pose a problem.

"If he meets or contacts a principal or an assistant principal,he’s in violation of our contract," said Barbieri. 

Board member Debra Robinson voted against hiring counsel and said she did not want the district to get invovled in what could be a long, legal dispute. "What does it gain us?" she questioned."We need to close the door on this."

Board member Jennifer Prior Brown, however, said she didn't see a problem with enforcing the district contracts. If not, "are we setting a precedent that we allow violation of board-negotiated contract?" she asked. 

When reached by phone last month, Johnson said he was not violating the agreement because he would wait a full two years before taking the position. He added he was excited to return to public education.

"It’s what I’ve devoted my life to. I'm really excited to contribute again," he said. 

Johnson served 10 years as superintendent and more than 20 years as a principal. He's expected to begin his new job in May. or 954-747-3033, Twitter: @karen_yi

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