Richland schools superintendent has plans to fulfill contract

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldDecember 27, 2012 

The Richland School District superintendent sent a formal letter to the school board Wednesday, announcing plans to retire on June 30, 2015.

That's when his current contract expires. But until that day, Jim Busey said in his two-page letter that he will continue to do the job he was hired for.

Busey was placed on paid administrative leave Dec. 10 while district officials investigate his relationship with an employee of one of Richland's elementary schools.

Busey maintains he's done nothing wrong. And Busey's letter said the district should provide him office space and staff so he can continue working even while on leave, because he is prevented from visiting district property without board permission.

"Due to the manner of the investigation and publicity, I suggest we immediately discuss our working relationship and proceed to support students and their success," Busey wrote in the letter he sent to Richland School Board Chairman Rick Jansons, other district officials and to the Herald.

Jansons declined Wednesday to discuss the investigation but said he received and glanced over Busey's letter but neither he nor the board plan to respond.

"We're going to wait until the investigation is complete," Jansons said.

Busey claims the district already investigated the relationship in November and found there were no issues. He said it only became a problem when the district's investigation became public.

Jansons has denied that the board or its investigators ever finished the investigation.

The superintendent said the district gave him until Wednesday to sign documents for his resignation, effective Dec. 31. He said the offer included extending his health benefits until June 30, but would otherwise not receive any pay.

But Jansons contended, "(Board members) have not offered (Busey) a buyout and have not contemplated offering him a buyout."

Busey admitted he has not seen a written offer from the board, but he said the district's attorney, Greg Stevens, has been talking with his private attorney.

Busey's letter said he expects to be paid the full terms of his contract when he retires.

The terms of his contract allow him to cash out as many as 30 days of unused vacation and up to 180 days of unused sick time.

The district also agreed in his 2010 contract to pay for his move from Lake Chelan to Richland, even if that involved up to two moves before June 30, 2013. The total moving expenses cannot exceed $20,000. He already has sought reimbursement for part of that.

If he leaves before his contract ends, Busey said he expects to be paid for his full contract length.

He earns $160,730 a year, according to a March 2012 addendum to his contract. That means the district is set to pay him more than $400,000 over the next 21/2 years.

The board has appointed Rich Puryear, the district's director of financial services, as acting superintendent.

Jansons told the Herald last week that there is no set timeline for the conclusion of the district's investigation, but said a decision would likely come after the holiday season.

-- Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402; tbeaver@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @_tybeaver

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