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Volusia County Schools Superintendent Scott Fritz was abruptly terminated April 12 by the Volusia County School Board in a 3-2 vote. Afterward, he left the meeting.

By a unanimous vote of the board, Human Resources Director Rachel Hazel was named interim superintendent.

The move came around 8 p.m. after a day of talking about the plan for succession for Fritz, who had announced in an email to staff March 28 that he did not intend to ask that his contract be extended. The matter of his future was first brought up Feb. 22 in a surprise discussion of whether the School Board wanted to extend that employment contract.

Apparently, a conversation with Fritz during a break in the regularly scheduled meeting April 12 tipped School Board Member Ruben Colón to vote in favor of firing Fritz without cause. The motion to do so had been made by Board Member Jamie Haynes about 45 minutes earlier.

But, legally, the district must have at least an interim superintendent in place.

A 15-minute break stretched to 30 minutes as board members scrambled to reach the individuals they favored to serve as interim superintendent, and Colón and Fritz went into another room.

“I was prepared tonight to methodically plan this out,” Colón said after the board reconvened. “But, during the break, Dr. Fritz has made it very clear to me that he does not want to be here, by his actions.

“It’s not what I came here to do — but I do not believe that our employees should be subjected to what I was just subjected to a few minutes ago,” Colón added.

School Board Members Carl Persis and Linda Cuthbert have been clear that they would have liked Fritz to stay, while Board Members Anita Burnette and Jamie Haynes have leaned toward letting him go. The interaction between Fritz and Colón during the break apparently brought about Colón’s decision.

The heart of the matter was how the departure would happen — would Fritz complete the remainder of his contract, which would have ended Dec. 31, while the district conducted a search for a superintendent, or would he remain as a consultant for an interim superintendent, entitled to separation pay?

Or, would Fritz be terminated without cause immediately, meaning the School Board would pay severance and immediately choose an interim superintendent.

In an extremely tense and somewhat hectic meeting, the latter option is what ultimately happened. Fritz will receive $186,843.42 in severance pay.

Fritz said he will remember Volusia County as a positive chapter in his career.

“It will still remain one of the high points in the 30-plus years in public education,” Fritz said. “Nobody wants change, but sometimes it’s necessary, and I will tell you that when I was hired here, I was asked for a change. And I think we’ve done that.”

“I stand ready to help the next permanent superintendent of Volusia County Schools because we want what’s best for our kids,” Fritz added, before departing a mostly silent room.

The School Board meeting adjourned about an hour later.

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