Del Mar school board votes to release Superintendent McClain

Staff Report

After hearing nearly an hour and a half of public comments — mostly from angry parents — and nearly two hours in closed session, the Del Mar Union School District Board of Trustees voted to release Superintendent Sharon McClain from her contract.

The board voted 3-1, with Steven McDowell abstaining, for the motion to let the superintendent go. Board President Comischell Rodriguez cast the lone “no” vote.

The board’s reason for the decision was that McClain breached her contract in some way related to “personnel” issues.

“I was expecting it,” McClain said. “They called a special meeting for tomorrow to appoint an interim yesterday ... I cleaned out my office yesterday and I’m going to leave. But they will hear from me.”

McClain said the board would be hearing from her attorney. She said she was notified on Monday that the board had scheduled a special meeting for Thursday to appoint a interim superintendent.

“I felt like I did do a good job. I felt like, it’s a disagreement, personality-wise,” McClain said, " and sometimes you can’t get over those things.”

The board went into closed session at approximately 2:15 p.m. to discuss the “discipline, dismissal” or “release” of McClain, Rodriguez told the Del Mar Times on Tuesday.

Rodriguez would not answer questions about how McClain breached her contract. “Because we’re under potential litigation it would not be in the best interest of the district to answer any questions at this time,” she said.

More than 100 people attended the meeting at the Del Mar Hills Academy, but the crowd thinned out while the board was in closed session.

Many of the speakers expressed anger toward the board for the proposal to release McClain from her contract, which is set to expire on June 30, 2012. She was hired in September 2008 after a summer-long, nationwide search following the removal of the former district Superintendent Tom Bishop in February 2008.

“I can tell you that from attending superintendent conferences in the state that Del Mar has a very poor reputation statewide as far as the relationship here. It’s not a secret,” McClain said.

McClain’s contract stipulates what would happen if the board terminated the agreement without cause: “In acknowledgement of the difficulty or impossibility of calculating possible damages to the Superintendent as a result of such termination, the parties agree that in the event of termination pursuant to this provision of this Agreement, and regardless of the term of this Agreement, the case settlement amount of liquidated damages shall be an amount equal to the monthly salary of the Superintendent multiplied by the number of months remaining under this Agreement, but not to exceed twelve (12) months, except as otherwise required by law.”

Buying out Bishop’s contract in 2008 cost the district more than $300,000. McClain was making $178,000 a year.

Before members of the public were allowed to address the board, McClain read a statement to the district, thanking them for the year and a half she spent as Superintendent of Schools.

“I’m glad to have the opportunity to express some thoughts about the Del Mar Union School District and my tenure here before I leave,” she said. The audience gave her a standing ovation as McClain teared up.

For more on this story, read

DMUSD board expected to vote Wednesday to release Superintendent McClain


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