State

Modesto City Schools, Bailey OK deal

Modesto City Schools officials reached a financial settlement with the district's No. 2 in charge, who's been on paid leave since April 27.

Deputy Superintendent of Business Services Debbe Bailey signed the agreement Monday afternoon. It calls for a buyout of her $165,000-a-year contract, which ran through June 2010.

The document won't be released publicly for seven days, the time Bailey has to back out of the agreement, said board president Steve Grenbeaux. The agreement includes a confidentiality clause that restricts Bailey from talking about its terms.

The settlement could include all or part of Bailey's salary, retirement benefits, legal fees or other extras.

Although officials won't give details, it's clear Bailey won't be returning to the district. The tentative plan is to continue with Business Services director Dennis Snelling and budget manager Julie Chapin as heads of the department, Grenbeaux said.

Grenbeaux said he's glad to see an end to the discord.

"This gives the staff a chance to start working on other issues. They've spent a lot of time, energy and effort to get this done," he said.

The settlement is the culmination of a power struggle between Bailey and Superintendent Arturo Flores. The philosophical and financial disagreements began when Flores took over the reins of Modesto City Schools two years ago and boiled over in the past six months.

Flores is on vacation and could not be reached for comment.

Flores released Bailey's performance review to The Bee a month ago, along with pages of her e-mails to the teachers union, superintendent's secretary Pat Nan, Trustee Cindy Marks and others that he said highlighted her disloyalty to him and the district.

Bailey contended that her correspondence was taken out of context, and that she and Flores butted heads because she had legitimate concerns about the district's financial solvency under his leadership.

Bailey has held her position for eight years. She plans to spend some time with her family, she said Monday. She also said she'll serve as a consultant for districts or other agencies.

"The whole thing is bittersweet," Bailey said. "I've been in public education for 35 years -- 23 years in this district -- and to be treated the way I've been treated, there's a little bitterness. I'm disappointed in how it's been handled by the district because it didn't need to be this big public brouhaha, and considering how much the district has spent in legal fees on this."

The settlement comes from the district's liability insurance, not the general fund. In 12 months, the district has paid about $400,000 for the insurance, officials said.

Bee staff writer Michelle Hatfield can be reached at mhatfield@modbee.com or 578-2339.

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