Henrico School Board announces severance package for Dr. Russo

Posted at 8:05 PM, Nov 14, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-14 23:52:52-05

HENRICO, Va. (WTVR)--Henrico County School Board and Superintendent Dr. Patrick Russo announced that they reached an agreement for his resignation, that will be effective tomorrow.

Parties reached a joint agreement for a $186,434 severance package. Dr. Russo's employment contract provided that, at any time, the contract could be ended by the mutual agreement of the parties, according to Andrew Jenks, spokesperson with Henrico Schools.

CBS 6's Chelsea Rarrick asked Henrico School Board Chair, Beverly Cocke if the board had been working out a joint agreement with Russo since August, when Russo was placed on paid leave.

Cocke would not elaborate on the decision, saying she could not comment.

His severance will be received in addition to his recent paychecks. He was paid monthly, and was last paid on Oct. 30. According to Henrico records, Russo was also paid, before taxes, $19, 276 on August 30 and again on September 30. The paychecks included health benefits, car insurance, and a stipend for an official car. Russo's contract indicated that his annual fiscal salary was roughly $257,817, which included other compensations.

He will be paid the above severance package in one lump sum.

He had been on paid leave pending the outcome of an investigation into whether or not he gave special treatment to former school board member Diana Winston and/or her husband Joe. Diana Winston stepped down from the board after questions were raised about close relationships between her family and Mr. Russo.

At the end of August Henrico County School Board Chair, Beverly Cocke announced the board would not be extending Superintendent Patrick Russo’s contract. Russo’s contract was set to end in 2015, but a clause required the board to consider an extension in 2013.

The school board was temporarily without a Three Chopt District representative after Winston resigned on August 12. On September 26, 2012 Robert Boyle filled the vacant seat. He has said he will not run again after this term ends in 2015.

During an investigation CBS 6 discovered this is not the first time Russo has faced scrutiny in his career.

During his tenure as superintendent of Moore County School in North Carolina, Russo  was almost dismissed by the school board after he took funds intended for remedial students and allocated them toward improving SAT scores.

The Moore School Board motioned for Russo to be removed from his job, but the motion was defeated 3-5.

The incident prompted Russo, at that time, to issue an apology to the Moore School Board.

“I am disheartened by and apologize for the events related to the SAT,” Russo wrote in documents obtained by CBS 6.

This revelation has some Henrico parents questioning the vetting process of county school leaders.

By law, the School Board may take up to 180 days to name a successor. Until such time, Dr. Patrick Kinlaw continues to lead the division in his role of deputy superintendent.