There will be an open hearing Tuesday to give Pine Bluff School District Superintendent Jerry O. Payne an opportunity to respond to a school board decision to terminate his contract with cause as of June 3.

There will be an open hearing Tuesday to give Pine Bluff School District Superintendent Jerry O. Payne an opportunity to respond to a school board decision to terminate his contract with cause as of June 3.

The hearing will be 5 p.m. Tuesday in the PBSD Administrative Center board room at 512 S. Pine Street.

The PBSD Board of Directors voted May 15 to ratify the Feb. 28 decision made in executive session to terminate Payne’s contract without cause. They then voted that there were grounds to terminate the superintendent’s contract with cause, which would allow the board to fire Payne without giving him the 120-day notice required for a without-cause termination.

The school board must inform Payne of the grounds they feel give them cause to fire him. At the May 15 meeting, they authorized their attorney, Luther Sutter, to prepare a letter informing Payne of their reasons. The board reviewed Sutter’s draft at a May 17 meeting.

The Commercial submitted a Freedom of Information Act request Thursday afternoon to Sutter asking for a copy of the letter that outlines the board’s reasons for firing Payne.

Sutter said in a note Friday afternoon that he has requested an opinion from the Attorney General’s Office and will respond to the FOIA request when the opinion is received.

At the May 17 meeting, Sutter said to the board members that the open hearing would be necessary.

“Mr. Payne has the option to present his side of things to the public,” Sutter said. “He is entitled to an open hearing. I encourage you to set a hearing for some time in the near future. It must take place by the end of this month in my opinion.”

Payne was hired by the school board to replace retiring Superintendent Frank Anthony in spring 2011 after a nationwide search conducted by a recruitment agency. But at some point the board’s relationship with Payne soured and they have been at odds for months — with the board demanding repayment for $9,500 in Payne’s moving expenses from Louisiana, being unwilling to accept many of Payne’s recommendations and refusing to rehire for the 2012-2013 school year two employees Payne recruited from out-of-state — among other disagreements.