Antioch School Board places Superintendent Gill on paid administrative leave

By Allen Payton

The agenda for a Special Meeting of the Antioch Unified School District Board of Trustees for Thursday, November 12, at 11 a.m. listed a Closed Session item for “Public Employee Appointment: Interim Superintendent.”

An email sent Tuesday night to Board President Claire Smith, Board Members and Superintendent Don Gill seeking answers for why the meeting was being held, resulted in an email response by Smith, that night.

That email stated the following:

Dr Gill is on paid leave.

There was no vote taken as of yet.

There will be a special board meeting at 11 am on Thursday Nov 12

I have not seen the agenda for the November 18th meeting.

We should be having a discussion and possible vote on the search firm that night.”

The Board action occurred during a Closed Session of a Special Board Meeting at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, with two agenda items entitled “3. I. Public Employee Performance Evaluation: Administrators” and “II. Public Employee: Discipline/Dismissal/Release.”

In phone interviews, Wednesday, Smith said the reason Gill is on paid leave was “Because the board put him on paid administrative leave and it’s a personnel matter and that’s it.”

She said it was done as of this Tuesday, that she announced it publicly, following the Closed Session, and that it was a unanimous vote of the trustees. However, no news release was sent to the media regarding the Board’s action.

She wouldn’t say why the board took the action.

The reason we can’t say is because it is a personnel matter,” Smith stated. “If it was something illegal, that would be completely different. There’s nothing illegal. If it was illegal this would be an entire different conversation.”

In a prepared statement sent via email, Wednesday night, Smith stated:

1. Don will be on a leave of absence for the remainder of the year.

2. Government Code section 54957 subdivision (b)(1) allows the board to hold closed session to consider the appointment or employment of a public employee.

3. Any action in Closed Session including a motion and vote will be reported in Open Session immediately after the Board reconvenes.”

Smith clarified that Gill is on leave until the end of the school year, next June.

His contract lasts until June, 2017 but his resignation, which Gill announced in Septemeber, will take effect June 30, 2016.

The board will be “interviewing people that we think might be able to do the job in the interim,” Smith said.

We did this the last time, too,” she added. “We interviewed a lot of senior staff. We invited maybe eight people in to meet with the board and we just asked them all the same exact questions.”

The actual appointment vote will be done in public at Thursday’s meeting following the closed session in which the interviews occur,

There is a provision in the law that allows us to take the vote in Closed Session,” she continued. “But I try to get the board to do things in public.

We have to say who voted how, if it’s not unanimous,” Smith added. “It could be three seconds or an hour” before the Closed Session is completed and the Board takes their vote to appoint an interim superintendent during the open session.

The interim appointment will last until the Board hires a new superintendent.

Efforts to reach Dr. Gill for this report were unsuccessful.

The Antioch School Board meetings are held at the School Services Building located at 510 G Street, in Antioch.

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