Escambia School Board to discuss terminating Superintendent Tim Smith’s contract :

The Escambia County School Board is set to discuss terminating Superintendent Tim Smith’s contract at a meeting today.

The severance discussion was added to the board agenda for a 5:30 p.m. meeting.

In November 2018, citizens of Escambia County voted to move from an elected to an appointed superintendent, and Smith took office in November 2020.

Smith and the district have come under fire in recent days over a “Rights and Responsibilities” textbook quiz question.

The question posed to college and high school students focused on the exchange of nude photos, revenge porn and finally the suicide of a student.

In the story in the question titled “Selfie Suzie” (click image to enlarge), Suzie was a 17-year-old high school girl who asked to send her 18-year-old boyfriend three nude photos. The couple broke up and the boyfriend sent Suzie’s nude photos to the soccer team, basketball team, soccer team, track team and others students.

Suzie has been harassed, degraded and called a slut, the storyline continues. Suzie enrolled in community college to graduate, but there were high school students there who harassed her.

“Two weeks later, she was so miserable and depressed that she committed suicide,” states the quiz fictional account.

In a statement released on Monday, Smith said:

“The test was intended to reinforce our goal of ensuring a safe and orderly learning environment for all of our students.

“After the issue was brought to my attention and I listened directly to the concerns of parents who raised this issue, I have made the decision to order that the test be discontinued in the future.

“Our school district has over 5,800 employees. By necessity, independent decisions must be made by employees at different levels of the organization. I believe that our employees care deeply about the welfare and education of our students. That said, when unsatisfactory decisions are made, it is my responsibility to gather the facts and take corrective action to prevent the problem from happening again.

“In order to become the school system we envision, we must build a culture of continuous improvement, learn from our missteps and always find ways to do things better. This situation has revealed the need for us to review and assess the approval processes that were used in this case, and to make changes to ensure that any materials distributed to our students are age appropriate. I ask our leadership team to evaluate the decision-making protocols used in this case and make recommendations for improvement.

Smith said he asked for the report to be on his desk by Oct. 28 so he could present recommendations to the school board in November.

According to Smith’s contract, the board can fire him without cause at any time with a majority vote. If that happens, he will receive 20 weeks of severance and benefits and waives any right to object to his dismissal. If the board were to find a reason to fire Smith for cause, he would only receive the salary and benefits earned. If terminated for cause, he would have the right to request a hearing.

Smith was hired with a base salary of $160,000.

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