Rick Sorrells, the former superintendent of Dallas County Schools, is being paid generously to leave the troubled school bus agency, according to documents obtained by NBC 5 Investigates.
Copies of Sorrells retirement deal obtained by NBC 5 Investigates show the former superintendent will receive his full pay and benefits for nearly another 10 months. Sorrells' annual compensation was more than $206,000 and also included a monthly $700 car allowance. His unused vacation and leave time will also be paid.
The DCS Board approved the sudden retirement deal earlier this month amid an investigation into the beleaguered agency's finances and business dealings and calls from State Sen. Don Huffines (R-Dallas) that the agency be shuttered.
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Most on the board are defending the big payout saying they feared Sorrells, who had a contract through 2019, might sue DCS if they didn't give him his full salary through the end of the year.
"If you didn't do it you put yourself at a possible lawsuit," said board member CW Whitaker. "It was fair in my opinion. To lose two years of salary was definitely a punishment."
DCS Board President Larry Duncan added Sorrells was a "dedicated, hard-working public servant with 18 years of service" and that the retirement package was "a fair negotiation."
One of the two members of the board who voted against the retirement package, Gloria Levario, said she was against the deal because, "I don't believe in rewarding bad behavior -- that's all I have to say about that."
Under the terms of the deal Sorrells has agreed to waive any legal claims against DCS while agreeing to cooperate with DCS on any future legal situations that may arise connected to his tenure.
He'll remain on the payroll through December and is not expected to report to work, though Duncan said they expect they may need to consult with Sorrells in the coming months due to the "myriad of issues we are dealing with."
Attorney Stephen Dubner, an expert in school law, said the deal suggest the board was eager to make a change.
"I would characterize this as a generous agreement for the superintendent," said Dubner. "It's obvious to me that this was done very quickly to get him to leave without any fight."
Sorrells stepped down earlier this month amid calls for his resignation, including one from State Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) who said there needed to be a change in leadership following a series of financial missteps and questionable investments. DCS has hired a former FBI agent to conduct an internal review of the agencies finances. The agency, meanwhile, remains in deep financial trouble and is in danger of running out of cash by June.
Sorrells has not returned messages left at his home asking for comment on the situation.