The Metro Nashville Public Schools board has bought out the contract of its chief executive, Shawn Joseph, and selected a district veteran to serve as interim leader of the 85,000-student district.
The Nashville Tennessean reports that Adrienne Battle, a community superintendent who has served in Nashville for more than two decades, will take serve as director of schools an interim basis until board members can find a new director.
The buyout of Joseph's contract comes less than three years after he was hired. The board approved the the exit agreement on a 5-3 vote.
Joseph will receive a $261,250 payout; the agreement includes a non-disparagement clause between board members and Joseph.
"I believe much has been accomplished despite the pervasive challenges I encountered when arriving, and I am so proud of the tremendous work of the thousands of teachers and staff members who helped to move the needle for our children," Joseph says.
Joseph, the city’s first African-American superintendent, won praise from community leaders and city officials for his focus on the success of minority students.
But his exit comes after a year of intense criticism for how he handled items ranging from communications and contracts to sexual harassment allegations against school employees.
Board member Will Pinkston, a Joseph supporter, called board opposition to the director the equivalent of a hostile work environment.
"Dr. Joseph is a good man," Pinkston says. "He is not perfect. None of us are. But he has been held to an impossibly high double standard that no superintendent in the history of this district has been held to."
At a Metro Council Minority Caucus news conference on March 26, black city leaders called the treatment of Joseph “shameful.”
Nashville Mayor David Briley called on school board members to stop name-calling and fueling social media disputes. He also accused them of breaking open meeting laws and said new funding for the district will come with strings attached.