SARASOTA — The Sarasota County School Board unanimously approved a mutual separation agreement with its superintendent Tuesday, bringing to an end his employment with the district.
Superintendent Todd Bowden’s tenure with the district will end Dec. 31. The board plans to select an interim superintendent at a Dec. 10 meeting.
In the meantime, the district’s chief financial operating officer, Mitsi Corcoran, will fill the position.
A few names have been considered as potential candidates for interim superintendent, including former Superintendent Lori White and former Seminole County Superintendent Bill Vogel.
But the majority of the board seemed to lean toward Vogel during a morning workshop.
Even School Board member Eric Robinson, who showed strong support for White, said he was willing to meet with Vogel after noting that School Board members Jane Goodwin, Shirley Brown and Caroline Zucker were all keen on selecting someone who had not previously worked with the district.
Who will ultimately take the helm of the district remains to be decided. But the dire need for a change of leadership was evident.
During a contentious Nov. 5 meeting, dozens of community members demanded Bowden’s removal from the district. While many may be pleased with the board’s decision to approve the separation agreement, some have taken issue with the amount of money he will receive following his departure.
The mutual separation agreement states Bowden will be placed on paid leave until the end of the year. Starting in January 2020, the district will pay him 20 weeks salary, any unused leave time, plus $65,523 in legal fees.
Calls for Bowden’s resignation began soon after an investigative report revealed that he had failed to respond to sexual harassment allegations brought against former Chief Operating Officer Jeff Maultsby.
Maultsby’s administrative assistant, Cheraina Bonner, accused him of sending her sexually suggestive text messages and creating a hostile work environment, all of which was confirmed in the report.
Bowden did not attend the meeting Tuesday. But the often-divided board all agreed that his removal was necessary.
Faith in the district has been shaken by the notable tension between certain board members, in addition to the long list of controversies that have involved the superintendent.
All five board members noted that they were committed to restoring public confidence.
“It is time to move on, it is time for healing,” Goodwin said. “I think this is the first step in doing that.”