Canutillo ISD Superintendent Damon Murphy to resign Feb. 1

CANUTILLO, Texas - Early Wednesday morning the Canutillo Independent School District board of trustees voted to buy out superintendent Damon Murphy's contract with the district.

The board discussed Murphy's  employment and possible response to a notice of investigation from the Texas Education Agency for four hours before emerging from executive session at 12:30 a.m.. 

The board unanimously voted in favor of the separation agreement Murphy consented to in executive session. 

Murphy will be on paid leave until he will step down as superintendent on Feb 1, 2013, said board president Armando Rodriguez.

Murphy could walk away with around $41,000. The terms of Murphy's resignation include a lump sum of one month's pay for $14,250, compensation for seven unused flex days totaling $5,343 and three paychecks worth of paid leave.  

Murphy's base yearly salary is $171,000.

The board had previously voted to pursue a separation agreement including unpaid leave. According to Rodriguez, the board conceded to Murphy's stipulation to be put on paid leave in executive session Tuesday night in order to avoid to avoid a costly and lengthy appeal process. Rodriguez said Murphy would have attempted to appeal the board's termination if they did not agree to providing him with paid leave until his resignation on Feb. 1. 

The board also voted to respond to the TEA investigation request. 

Friday TEA officials said they had launched an investigation into the district's program compliance.

Tuesday TEA Spokeswoman DeEtta Culberton said the agency will specifically review special education and limited english English proficiency programs at Canutillo schools.

The regular session of the Tuesday board meeting began at 6 p.m. with a special presentation and board honors where Murphy posed for photos with the board members who voted to to begin taking steps to fire him less than two weeks ago.

During a Dec. 6 meeting, the board members voted to notify Murphy of their intent to terminate his contract with the district, after being presented with internal audit findings that showed what might have been attempts to cheat on state and federal accountability measures..

The audit alleges that Murphy directed former Canutillo High Principal, Jim Fry, to find ways of moving limited English-speaking students and special education students out of the 10th-grade. The results of 10th grade standardized test exams are held up to federal accountability standards.

Murphy, who has worked in the education field more than 20 years, served as the Associate Superintendent for Secondary and Priority Schools at the El Paso Independent School District for four years before he was hired to lead the Canutillo School District in 2010.

In April, EPISD revealed that a federal investigation had uncovered a four-year-old email from Murphy's account that gave principals and administrators a directive to make incoming foreign high schoolers freshmen, even if they deserved to be placed higher than the ninth grade.

"I have no comment about what happened two years ago in a different district,"said Murphy of the 2008 email, during a May Canutillo ISD board meeting.

Murphy has declined to comment on any of the allegations he is faced with or his employment status with CISD, despite ABC-7's multiple attempts to contact him through Canutillo ISD officials.

According to a CISD Spokesman, Murphy has continued to receive payment for his role as Superintendent since the board voted to begin taking steps to fire Murphy on Dec. 6.

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