Pine Bluff School District Superintendent Jerry O. Payne said he was told his three-year employment contract would be terminated effective June 30 during executive session at a special called meeting of the district board of directors Tuesday night.

Pine Bluff School District Superintendent Jerry O. Payne said he was told his three-year employment contract would be terminated effective June 30 during executive session at a special called meeting of the district board of directors Tuesday night.

Payne spoke to The Commercial after the meeting was adjourned about what happened during the closed-door executive session.

The board went into a 12-minute executive session immediately after the 6 p.m. meeting was convened. After reconvening, they unanimously approved a motion to take no action on administrator contracts.

The board adjourned after the vote with no further comment.

Payne said after the meeting that the board asked him for a list of potential school district administrators for the next school year.

“I told them that this is usually done all at one time in May,” Payne said.

Payne said that after this discussion, he was informed of the board’s decision to terminate his contract.

“I was told that my contract would be terminated as of June 30,” Payne said. “I was informed that I will be receiving a letter of termination tomorrow, termination without cause.

“The board president [Herman Horace] said, ‘we are exercising our 120 day without good cause,’” Payne said.

The district’s employment contract with Payne provides that “[t]he Superintendent has the right to resign his position and the board has the right to terminate this agreement without good cause effective June 30 of any year of this contract by giving 120 days written notice to the other party.”

Payne said he encouraged the board members to hold the discussion about his contract in open session and hold a roll-call vote during open session. Payne said they refused.

Payne defended the job he has done since coming to the district in June 2011. He and the board have sparred publicly for the past several months.

“My sincere concern is when you are not able to provide a level of leadership,” Payne said. “Every day I’ve done my job since I was recruited for this job.”

Payne said that he was never told what the purpose of the meeting was before its start.

“I was first informed of this meeting last night at 10 or 11,” Payne said. “I spoke to the board president and asked him what the purpose of the meeting was and he told me to call [board secretary] Freddie Johnson. Ms. Johnson refused to say what the purpose of the meeting was and told me to speak to the president. I called Mr. Horace back and told him if the meeting was about me that I needed to have notice.”

Payne said the board violated the district policies that outline how to call a special meeting of the board.

“For a special called meeting of the board you need to have three members of the board request that the president call a meeting,” Payne said.