After a lengthy executive session Tuesday night, Pine Bluff School Board members voted to buy out PBSD Superintendent Michael Robinson’s contract as of June 30, 2018.

We, as a board, are not doing what it takes to make our students and district better. We have been messy and selfish, and we don’t understand power. We use it for personal gain instead of bettering our children.

  Pine Bluff School Board member Henry Dabner  

The board has agreed to pay Robinson $50,000, along with funding for insurance benefits for six months.

The board was mum on what led to the buyout, though multiple special called meetings have been held lately to discuss the issue.

Under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act, the board does not have to talk about personnel issues.

Monica King McMurray, who is currently the PBSD executive director of Learning Services, will be the interim superintendent while the search for Robinson’s permanent replacement is held.

Robinson became the Pine Bluff superintendent June 6, 2016. Before coming to Pine Bluff, he served eight years as middle school turnaround principal, director of priority/turnaround schools, and instructional director in Prince George’s County Public Schools, Maryland. He supervised 13 schools with more than 10,000 students.

Board member Henry Dabner had announced after Tuesday’s meeting that he planned to step down from his position; however, he said Wednesday that he will not be resigning after all.

He said he is “very frustrated and tired of grown-folk ignorance.”

“We, as a board, are not doing what it takes to make our students and district better,” Dabner said. “We have been messy and selfish, and we don’t understand power. We use it for personal gain instead of bettering our children.”

He added that his biggest frustrations deal with the board members whom he says don’t visit schools to experience what the education process looks like through the eyes of students and teachers.

Dabner also said that certain board members don’t attend conferences to learn how to become better, and he said he’s frustrated that the PBSD does not have a good relationship with the business community.

“Many of us sit in our positions for money, while the kids take the blame,” Dabner said. “It’s not fair to taxpayers to not receive a good, quality education. Kids are left out because we’re bickering over money.”

Attempts to reach Robinson and McMurray were unsuccessful on Wednesday.

On The Commercial’s social media Wednesday, opinions were varied on the issue.

“Money wasted,” Miesha Conic wrote. “He is a great change for the district. One door close(s), another will open.”

“Keep hiring the wrong people and then paying them large sums to get rid of them,” Chris Mackey wrote. “How do kids get an education in this district when the money that is there keeps leaving with the supers.”

ShaVonya M. Stephens had a message directly to the school board: “You always hire someone from out of town when you should’ve hired from the home team. He’s here now. Leave him alone.”

Priscilla Denise Jefferson said: “Soon as the board gets mad, they (are) ready to get rid of someone. They need to get rid of that board first.”