Compton Board Splits 3 to 2 : Kimbrough's Contract Extended Into 1989

Times Staff Writer

A divided school board extended the contract of Supt. Ted Kimbrough into 1989 Tuesday evening after a flurry of motions and countermotions that, at one point, led Kimbrough to announce his resignation.

The trustees voted, 4 to 3, to extend Kimbrough's old contract--which was to expire in September, 1986--through June, 1989.

Saying they wanted management stability, a majority of the board--Kelvin Filer, Manuel Correa, Mary Henry and Lynn Dymally--also granted new two-year contracts or two-year contract extensions to nine of Kimbrough's top aides.

The Compton Unified School District had 10 different superintendents in the 12 years before Kimbrough was hired in September, 1982.

'District Needs Continuity'

Trustees John Steward, Bernice Woods and Sam Littleton voted against all of the contract extensions.

"I think that the district needs continuity at the top, and that's something we haven't had in the past," said board President Filer on Wednesday.

Steward, who last month called for Kimbrough's immediate resignation, said the board action was a vote of confidence in the superintendent, and he has no plans to bring up the issue again.

"At this point I will let it rest," said Steward.

Woods and Littleton were unavailable for comment Wednesday morning.

Kimbrough said in an interview that, despite the split, the board's action gives him the support he needs to improve Compton schools.

"I think it's a message to the community and the district staff that we're going to have some stability in this district and that the direction in which things are going is what the board wants to happen," said Kimbrough. "The (board) wanted to break the model of always changing top administrators."

'Not Really Concerned'

He shrugged off the possibility that his slim majority of supporters could be lost after school board elections this fall. Three trustee positions, those of Steward, Correa and Filer, go before the voters in November.

"I'm not really concerned about that," said the 50-year-old Kimbrough, a former Los Angeles city schools administrator. "I think most of the people in this community understand what I'm trying to do."

Steward said he will not make Kimbrough's contract a campaign issue, because it would take about $400,000 to buy out the contract. Kimbrough makes $75,000 a year plus benefits.

The hourlong public debate of Kimbrough's future Tuesday followed a closed personnel session during which Kimbrough responded to year-end evaluations by all seven trustees. Kimbrough received solid support from five trustees in the Jan. 22 written evaluations, with Steward and Woods critical of his performance.

During that closed session, Kimbrough asked for an extension of his contract through mid-1989 and two-year extensions for his top administrators, he said.

But after Correa made a motion to extend Kimbrough's contract, debate followed. It ended with a decision to delay a vote on the matter for a month. At that point, Kimbrough told the board he was resigning effective June 30.

A motion by Steward to accept the superintendent's resignation was seconded by Woods but, amid confused discussion, was withdrawn, said Steward. A motion to reconsider Kimbrough's contract passed, 4 to 3, and the contract was extended.

Called for Resignation

Steward called for Kimbrough's resignation in his Jan. 22 performance evaluation, saying the superintendent does not trust the school board, is a poor leader and planner and has remained aloof from the Compton community.

Steward also said in his evaluation that the superintendent's "relationship with the (trustees) has been less than desirable. (He) appears to use every strategy to keep the board members bickering, uninformed and suspicious of each other."

Kimbrough was hired in 1982 to turn around a district plagued by allegations of scandal and nepotism.

The new superintendent almost immediately launched a series of investigations and reassigned 40 top administrators. That led to two unsuccessful recall campaigns against trustees who had supported Kimbrough.

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