Aug 4, 2022 - News

Salt Lake City school board and superintendent to enter mediation amid dispute

Illustration of a burning chalkboard.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Salt Lake City Superintendent Timothy Gadson III remains on leave weeks after the school board asked for his resignation for undisclosed reasons.

Context: Last month, the school board voted during a closed session to place Gadson, the first Black superintendent of a Utah school district, on a leave of absence.

  • Criticism against Gadson has centered around his demeanor, a school trip he took to Grand Canyon University in Arizona earlier this year and his recent hires of other Black administrators.
  • Black community leaders, including Mohamed Baayd, the only African American member of the school board, have alleged racial discrimination as the reason for Gadson's leave.
  • The board offered Gadson a buyout worth four months of his salary, or $73,000, in exchange for his resignation, according to Baayd.

The latest: Board President Melissa Ford read a statement at a meeting Tuesday acknowledging the public had questions surrounding Gadson but said they could not discuss "confidential personnel matters."

  • "I can share that Dr. Gadson's contract requires that we participate in mediation of any disputes, that Superintendent Gadson has requested mediation, and that the board plans to participate in that process in good faith," she said.
  • Ford said they are committed to transparency and added that any termination would be conducted in an open and public meeting.
  • Baayd said Gadson was being legally represented with help from the local NAACP Salt Lake chapter.

The other side: Baayd defended Gadson, saying he is a victim of a "racially biased district … that is not ready to deal with a Black leader running the district."

  • He also refuted claims that Gadson spent public funds to visit Grand Canyon University and said he provided receipts to prove he used his own funds.

What's next: There's no word on when the dispute between the school board and Gadson will be resolved.

What we're watching: The next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 6.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to note that the next meeting is Sept. 6 (not Sept. 7).

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