Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Keeping Tabs on Crawford Lewis

Tick. Tick. Tick.

Time is marching on and the suspense is palpable. According to the AJC today, the board is negotiating a separation with Dr. Lewis. And ironically, it's the very contract containing the highly criticized raise given to Lewis by the board that actually may contain the biggest surprise—a new clause capping his severance payout at four months worth of salary.

DeKalb County school superintendent Crawford Lewis will take at least $85,000 in cash with him if he accepts the school board's invitation to quit.

That's what Lewis' contract calls for in severance -- four months of his $255,000 annual salary -- plus benefits.

But pushing Lewis out the door will be a bargain compared to how much the school system paid to jettison its last superintendent. Johnny Brown walked out with a $410,000 payout in 2004 after just two years on the job. At the time, the board said the payout was part of a mutual agreement "to move in different directions."

Evidently the school system has learned to move in different directions a little more cheaply since then. The current board modified Lewis' contract in January, granting him a $15,000-a-year raise but also capping any severance payout at four months of annual salary. That cap, which was not in Lewis' prior contract, was designed to prevent a large payout like the one that went to Brown, said school board chairman Tom Bowen said.

We'll monitor the situation and update this post as news becomes available.


Employment Attorney said...

Write, email and call your BoE rep and encourage them to NOT give Crawford Lewis ANY release, indemnity or hold harmless agreement.

The BoE holds ALL the cards. They can either terminate him or he can resign/retire. The BoE has NO incentive (that the public is aware of) to "negotiate" anything.

Crawford Lewis can either 'save face' and walk away OR the BoE can fire him. It's that simple.

NO Indemnity Agreement.

NO Release.

The citizens of DeKalb have every right to pursue any and all claims they may have against Crawford Lewis for any wrongdoing he engaged in while Superintendent. Therefore, it would be unacceptable for the BoE to agree to any 'deal' that waived or gave up that right.

There's no telling what we will learn about Crawford Lewis' tenure after he's gone.

We should not do anything that will limit our rights to pursue any claims we may have against him for any fraud, theft, misappropriation or unjust enrichment during his tenure as superintendent of our public school system.

Write, email and call your BoE rep and encourage them to NOT give Crawford Lewis ANY release, indemnity or hold harmless agreement.

Cerebration said...

Good point, Attorney. Excellent. I wonder what the DA would recommend. I wish she would at least make it clear to the board.

BTW - this is no comparison to Johnny Brown. Brown annoyed a lot of old time "insiders" (Lewis included) - but it looks like Lewis may have done much more damage.

Anonymous said...

I agree.

(Besides, IF CLew has not done anything wrong he has no reason to ask for a release/indemnity.)

The board should not give him any release.

Anonymous said...

To Employment Attorney:

It's probably pointless to worry about how the B.O.E. gets rid of Lewis. If there are any civil claims against Lewis, I doubt there will be any pursuit of them. The county would spend millions to get back thousands. And you know that regardless of what the B.O.E. waives as far as the county's right to bring civil suit, they cannot waive criminal charges that will be, or could be brought, based on state or federal charges.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 10:56 is right. It's better to let CLew keep what he's looted from us (and our children) than to try and hold him accountable.

Besides, I'll bet this BoE is currently shopping for a Rolex watch for CLew and how much ca$h to pay him. They're NOT thinking about his personal responsibility for the damage he's done.

Teacher said...

None of us really knows what combination of personal,financial, or other pressures pushed Dr. Lewis in the direction he seems to have gone. Regardless of these, if he did something illegal, he has to suffer the consequences, only some of which will be financial.

However, Dr. Lewis may have a bright future ahead of him, no matter what the outcome is...Look what's become of Johnny Brown since he left us! Perhaps another Superintendent's job awaits Dr. Lewis!

According to the Port Arthur website, Dr. Brown "has consistently provided positive and effective leadership for increases in achievement and test scores, raising standards, building new schools and renovating others, strengthening fiscal stability, focusing on excellence and equity for all, and forging partnerships for all concerned with the children and their welfare."

And I am soon to board the first flight to Mars!

Truly, School Superintendent is a revolving door position. Average time in office is between 3-4 years. Let's get someone we can trust and work with for those 3.5 years. And let's hope the Board really investigates candidates' backgrounds.

Anonymous said...

After this BoE gives CLew the presidential rolex (the one with all the diamonds on the bezel) and a two year consultant job (at $200K+ per year), I'm confident they will conduct a nationwide search for a new superintendent (pay some BoE board member's friend $30K for the nationwide search) and then announce their selection for the new superintendent: Ramona Tyson.

Only in DeKalb county . . . .

Anonymous said...

This is going to make for great T-shirts:

Front Side
#1 - What is the job of a school system?
To educate kids. Nothing more, nothing less.

Back Side
#2 - What jobs do we eliminate?
See question #1 to determine if a job is truly needed.

Can we have them ready for the April 12th meeting? Can we present one to each board member?


Ella Smith said...

I also thought the board put a great deal of money in Dr. Lewis' retirement account. I heard 85,000. Now manybe someone was wrong. If this was true this was the big raise he got. Again, I do not know if this is true. This was what someone told me months ago and indicted the salary increase was not really the big deal as was the money in the retirement account.

Anonymous said...

If one has ever wonder just who's in charge of DCSS consider this: Days ago the board asked the superintendent to retire and contractually they can let him go, but he's still here. If my boss wanted me gone, I'd be gone within 2 minutes, not "negotiating" for days. Come on already BOE grow a spine -- your lack of leadership is scaring all of us.

Anonymous said...

Can I post in here? I hope my English and attitude will NOT embarrass DCSS teachers as I was told in another thread.

This is beginning to really get to me. Is not DCSS the largest employer in the county? I think it is, but I could be wrong. If you think DeKalb County is hurting now, wait until you see teachers and paras cut from the payroll. You think the tax base is an issue now, you haven't seen nothin' yet. DeKalb CEO Ellis better bring in private sector businesses to offset job losses -- or the county will begin to lose people. Lost jobs may continue to decrease the number of students enrolling in DCSS. I guess filling out my census form invoked such thoughts. Are we all arguing over a wad of dough (i.e., $$$)?

As I've read through this blog, I have come to understand many of us have similar goals, ambitions, and views as to what the BOE should do -- but our methods of achieving (or arriving at) certain objectives may differ with the current leadership. This is why it's so important that the leadership share its vision with transparency and no ambiguity. This is not just relevant to our problems at the local level, but is evident at the national level in Washington, D.C.

Something is seriously wrong with our society today. This is why it is so important we "KEEP TABS" (or CHECKS & BALANCES) on those that are supposed to serve and oversee the PUBLIC'S INTERESTS. I firmly believe our public servants think we are dumb and too lazy to keep tabs on them, and this is why they think they can get away with so much. From now on, I will make a concerted effort to attend every board meeting and participate to ensure each board member carries out his or her fiduciary duties and responsibilities -- which they have been entrusted.

Anonymous said...

It's once again CRCT season. Anyone know if there has been any progress at all in the cheating investigation?

Cerebration said...

"From now on, I will make a concerted effort to attend every board meeting and participate to ensure each board member carries out his or her fiduciary duties and responsibilities -- which they have been entrusted."

So glad to hear that. Everyone - please make the same commitment. The school system controls over 70% of your property taxes and nearly half the state budget. This is your money - these are your children. Please make a commitment to get involved and monitor those elected to "serve".

Anonymous said...

Is there any update on the status of Dr. Lewis?

Anonymous said...

The sad thing about this is if we try to sue CLew in civil court, the taxpayers will pay for the legal fees for both sides, which I find ridiculous.

Be done with this! The longer CLew is around the longer it is before we can move on.

This man was over his head when he took the job, and all he did was line his pockets, as well as his family and friends.

Let's hope Friday, April 16th, will be the day DCSS can move forward and ask for the resignations of all the friends, family members and other upper management that CLew hired during his reign. Right now DCSS is not so "Premiere" thanks to the bloat in our Central Office.

Anonymous said...

In the spirit of April 15th, Al Capone was reigned in by the IRS.
Hmmm...P-cards, car purchases, expense accounts, mileage records.

And double Hmmm...The Pope Enterprise. Filing married or single. Whoops, married x2 do you get double deductions for simultaneous relationships?

The IRS might have a field day of their own with DCSS employees