In a stunning move, the Republican majority Central Bucks School Board seems poised to saddle taxpayers with a payout, in excess of $650,000, to Superintendent Abe Lucabaugh who is leaving his position as per a pending “Mutual Separation Agreement” to be voted on at Tuesday evening’s school board meeting.
Sometimes referred to as golden parachutes, these lucrative compensation packages are generally launched when an executive is terminated, not when they voluntarily choose to relinquish their position.
“At this point, I am so shocked and startled at how this has taken place I have not given much thought to future steps. Once again, the board majority has planned and made decisions without any input from the three minority board members, and this decision has staggering financial consequences,” said recently re-elected Democratic board member Karen Smith. “I’m really looking forward to a Board that operates in a normal fashion.”
Lucabaugh’s resignation comes just four months after the same Republican board majority voted to give him a new contract, even though his previous one ran until 2026, and award him an unprecedented $85,000 pay hike. It also comes a week after voters overwhelmingly elected a new Democratic school board majority.
Additionally, Lucabaugh’s contract was perceived to contain a poison pill to prevent his removal should the current school board’s power be reduced due to a change in board leadership following the November election. As the Philadelphia Inquirer noted, “any future move to terminate Lucabaugh would require paying him a year of severance, at the increased salary” of $315,000.
In business, poison pills take many forms and are usually used as a corporate takeover deterrent. When included in an employment agreement, the purpose is to discourage the termination of an executive employment contract by forcing an unusually large payout.
Instead, board directors Dana Hunter, Leigh Vlasblom, Debra Cannon, Sharon Collopy, James Pepper, and Lisa Sciscio are expected to reward an employee for quitting his job.
The payout, according to the district’s “Separation Agreement and Release”, provides a payout of unused vacation leave: $32,105.81; payment of unused sick leave: $30,288.50 and $235,038.76 representing unused sick leave; $4,240.39 and $6,215.20 for unused personal days and administrative emergency days;$15,750 and $315,000 in severance pay; and, a settlement payment of $50,000 for signing the agreement.
Community responses to Lucabaugh’s impending departure what people want in a new superintendent:
“As for what I’d like to see in a new superintendent. We need someone who is willing and able to put aside their own political views and work with all members of the board and community in an open honest way for the betterment of our district as a whole. Someone who will recognize the problems within our district and work to find solutions, not to deny the problems and pay lawyers to spin or cover them up. Someone who truly cares about ALL students,not just the ones who fit their stereotypical ideals. Our district’s reputation has been so tarnished over the past two years, rebuilding it will take a lot of work but with the new board & the right superintendent we can start the process.”
– Amanda Coggins Smith, Chalfont, mother of two CBSD students
“I would say that our family is far from disappointed that he has resigned. During his tenure in administration, he directly had a hand in making CBSD an unsafe environment for our daughter. Regarding the resignation and payout, it’s fiscally irresponsible of the outgoing board majority especially given how allegedly concerned they all were about spending and tax consequences. This money could be better spent on student needs and resources in our schools. Our hope is that a new superintendent will work honestly and effectively with and listen to all kids and teachers, parents and the new board to make the learning environment positive for all.”
– Mindy Freeman, mother to a daughter who is a senior in CBSD, with two other daughters who graduated in 2017 and 2020
“When I heard about the board changing over, I wrote to my former Republican school board colleagues wishing this board the ability to dialogue and respect each other the way we were, even with different backgrounds and opinions. The political extremism and ineptness of the current board to see their role as supporting our children and not their party was thankfully reflected in the voting results of the majority of the people in our district. The unconscionable golden parachute they are giving the superintendent as part of their legacy is a testament to their irresponsibility and inability to think beyond their own misguided political values. The new board will have the responsibility to find a true leader to make the necessary repairs to our community imposed by the outgoing leadership at Central Bucks. The new superintendent will [hopefully] bring back professionalism, experienced guidance, and normalcy to the school district. Supporting our teachers, staff, and administrators and building trust with them is expected. Central Bucks school district will again be exemplary.”
– Jerel Wohl, former CBSD board member, father of three sons who graduated from the district
“I’d like to say that I’m livid, but sadly I’m not. I’ve learned to not be surprised by anything that Lucabaugh or the board majority does. And that is sad to say about our governing school board.
Lucabaugh’s severance contract seems to have been written to make him bulletproof in regards to any possible wrongdoing. The kicker is that in addition to getting a $10K consulting fee for November, he gets $1K for any court appearances or preparations. So, in essence, if he needs to appear in court for any wrongdoing he’ll get compensated for it. Outrageous.
By resigning, it’s abundantly clear that he was the 7th board majority member, incapable of working with others … something you would expect someone earning in excess of $300k could and would do.”
– Susana Ash, Buckingham, mother of two CBSD graduates
“Although it was shocking at the moment, it’s in line with how the board majority and Abe have acted these past few years. Because of Abe Lucabaugh and Dana Hunter, our students, teachers and community lose. This man and the current school board majority are an atrocity to the tenants of public service. I am appalled by the $640,000 severance package, and it’s obvious that this was planned. Abe has not been a moral nor educational leader in any capacity. I am truly grateful for our newly elected board majority and I look forward to a new superintendent who will bring ethical practices and responsibility to all children’s rights in education back to our community.”
– Adriana Comprelli, Pipersville, mother of three children in the district