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Buyout Sought for School Official

L.A. Unified: Panel is expected to approve $195,000 in severance pay for executive who left after two months.

June 26, 2001|DOUG SMITH | TIMES EDUCATION WRITER

The Los Angeles Board of Education will be asked today to ratify a $195,000 severance package for former chief operating officer Allen Solomon, who left the giant school system after only two months, a district source said.

Supt. Roy Romer, who declined to confirm the amount, said a payout is necessary because Solomon gave up his job as an associate vice chancellor at UCLA to run the district's business operations.

Once Solomon took the district's second-highest job in late April, it became apparent that some of the authority he expected had been siphoned away by other administrators Romer put in charge of the facilities and information technology divisions. He and Solomon agreed that the job was no longer a fit, Romer said.

A district source said Solomon is to receive $175,000 in compensation and $20,000 for legal fees. His attorney, Michael Maroko, declined to confirm those figures even though they are expected to be entered into the public record during today's board meeting.

Solomon was not available for comment, his lawyer said.

One board member said she opposes the buyout.

"I don't think you bring someone on for a couple of months and pay them off for a big settlement," board member Julie Korenstein said. "Money is too tight. We're making too many cuts."

But several others said they expect the agreement to be ratified.

"I imagine there will be conversation, but I don't think there is going to be any problem," board President Genethia Hayes said. "You hire the superintendent, and you support the superintendent as long as you believe he is taking care of your priorities."

Board member Caprice Young said she found it unfortunate that a senior position that took weeks to fill would be vacated so quickly.

"But it's not uncommon that at the executive level you realize the match just wasn't right," Young said. "You handle it the best you can. Yeah, it's a little expensive. But you don't go on with a bad marriage."

Some board members were most concerned about refilling the vacancy quickly.

Romer "needs to move faster this time to get the chief operating officer," board member David Tokofsky said. "I think it is crucial to have somebody coordinating personnel, technology, finance."

But Romer has said he is not sure yet whether he will fill the job at all.

The main reason Solomon left, Romer said, was that the need for that coordination had diminished, partly because of Romer's other appointments. Those include former Navy Capt. James McConnell, the facilities chief overseeing a program to build 85 schools.

"It was obvious that McConnell had a more direct knowledge of construction," Romer said. "It was obvious that I had to be close to that."

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