Gilbert saves District hundreds of thousands of dollars
(Rialto, Calif) When Rialto Unified School Board member Joanne Gilbert learned that then Rialto Superintendent of Schools Edna Davis-Herring was resigning and asking for her contractually obligated severance pay, she was not surprised.
“It was 2009 and the three newly elected board members had run on a platform to get rid of Edna,” said Gilbert.
“It was clear that three new board members did not want her to be their superintendent. I thought it was quite courageous of Edna to save the district from a long and potentially continuous fight with newly elected school board members and resign,” said Gilbert.
When appointed heads of major government organizations, such as a school district, city managers or county chief administrative officer are hired it is customary for them to negotiate and receive a severance package that outlines what they receive if they are fired or they resign.
“The best time to negotiate your exit strategy is before you get hired. Edna knew that and we agreed to what we believed was a good contract,” said Gilbert.
Gilbert says the board accepted her resignation and paid her severance package to prevent a prolonged legal fight. She had a legally binding agreement, “If we denied Edna’s board approved severance package she could have sued and won. Then we would have been obligated to pay her plus damages and legal fees.”
Herring’s contract included a compensation package that paid $189,000 a year plus benefits. Her severance package was for 18 months of pay and benefits totaling about $300,000.
A recent mailer sent to district residents accuses Gilbert of “squandering tax dollars with a gift to her friend.”
“That could not be further from the truth,” said Gilbert.
“If the district fought the severance, Edna could have filed a lawsuit and the district could have easily spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and kept the district embroiled in controversy for years,” said Gilbert.
She added, “Three other board members and I chose to spare the district the cost and heartache and accept our contractual agreement. We did the right thing for the district and the students.”
There are many Rialto residents who agree with her and support her re-election.
Gilbert’s supporters include: RUSD Superintendent, Dr. Harold Cebrun; RUSD Board President Joseph Martinez; San Bernardino Valley Community College Trustees: John Longville and James Ramos; The San Bernardino County Democratic Central Committee; John Wall, Chairman of the San Bernardino Democratic Committee; AFL-CIO; United Food & Commercial Workers; Rialto City Councilmember Deborah Robertson; San Bernardino City Councilmember Rikke Van Johnson and California State Assemblymember, Wilmer Amina Carter to name a few. (A complete list of endorsers is listed below.)
“I know first-hand of the type of commitment trustee Gilbert has to the success of our student educational goals. When dealing with issues and concerns not sufficiently addressed by school administration, not only does she ensure that the matter is addressed, but works diligently to discover alternative ways to maintain the primary objective of keeping our students in school,” said Rialto City Councilmember Deborah Robertson.
“I ask the people of Rialto for their vote on Tuesday, November 2 and allow me to help this generation of Rialto children earn a great education,” said Gilbert.
About Joanne Gilbert
Joanne has been on the Rialto School Board for 9 years. Prior to that, she was a teacher and educator in public education for 29 years teaching classes in all grades from middle school to adult education.
Under Joanne Gilbert’s tenure, the Board has returned to a strong emphasis on visual and performing arts being part of the classroom curriculum, and rebuilding music programs. In fact, several schools have made great strides in improving their Academic Performance Index (API) scores, with some exceeding the 800 point level, including Trapp, Myers and Fitzgerald Elementary School being named as California Distinguished Schools.
Joann is committed to Rialto school district students excel academically.