Ruthie Quinto, who resigned earlier this month as Fresno Unified’s deputy superintendent and chief financial officer, will be on paid administrative leave from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, 2021 under a resignation agreement GV Wire℠ obtained from the district through a public records request.
Quinto will be paid her full annual salary of $256,279 and will continue to receive paid health benefits during the year.
According to the agreement, Quinto began using her accumulated sick leave time on Sept. 14 and will continue doing so through Sept. 30. She also will be paid for unused vacation time totaling 170.8 hours.
The agreement refers to a letter of reference signed by superintendent Bob Nelson, but the letter is a confidential personnel record and exempt from the public records law, spokeswoman Nikki Henry said.
The agreement was signed by Quinto and Nelson on Sept. 4 and approved by a 4-3 vote last Wednesday by the Board of Trustees, with Board President Keshia Thomas and trustees Claudia Cazares, Valerie Davis, and Veva Islas voting in favor and trustees Elizabeth Jonasson Rosas, Carol Mills, and Terry Slatic voting against it.
Not in Her Contract
The three trustees said later they opposed the agreement because it contains payments in excess of what was in Quinto’s contract, which provides her with lifetime healthcare benefits when she retires but did not include any obligation to pay her once she stopped working for the district. Such clauses typically exist in contracts for superintendents.
Nelson, who announced Quinto’s resignation at the Sept. 9 board meeting, thanked her for her lengthy service to the district, which was facing a state takeover due to its poor financial situation when she arrived and which had to weather economic downturns over the past 15 years.
Quinto then spoke briefly, thanking Nelson and the trustees and saying she was leaving to spend more time with her younger son, who is in remission from Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Her tenure also was marked by some controversy, including a federal investigation of the district’s lease-leaseback construction contracts that prompted a lawsuit from a construction company official who claimed the contracts violated competitive bidding requirements.
The School Board in November 2015 voted 4-2, with one abstention, to reject Quinto’s request for a district-paid attorney to represent her in connection with the federal probe.
Federal Probe Ends With No Charges
In April 2019 the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced it had ended its investigation, which was launched in August 2015 with a federal grand jury subpoena of district records related to its use of lease-leaseback contracts. No charges were filed.
Quinto’s resignation agreement indicates there was some legal friction between her and the district. The agreement refers to “certain differences, claims and potential causes of action” with regard to Quinto’s employment with the district.
It says that Quinto and the district were signing the agreement “to settle all differences between them, avoid the expense of litigation,” and resolve all matters and claims in connection with her employment with Fresno Unified.
Quinto was not immediately available for comment Tuesday morning.