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A Super Deal (Part 2): Superintendent documented his own vacation, got $100k for unused days

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A Super Deal (Part 2): Superintendent documented his own vacation, got $100k for unused days

City Schools of Decatur Superintendent David Dude. Image obtained from City Schools of Decatur
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About this series: Decaturish.com dug deeper into the allegations contained in a lawsuit filed against City Schools of Decatur by the district’s former human resources director. The lawsuit alleges that Superintendent David Dude took more vacations than his contract allowed and that the board advanced him money to buy a home. Our investigation sheds new light on those claims and reveals new details about his most recent contract. This is the second part of a three-part series about our findings. To read Part 1, click here.

Decatur, GA – Since joining the Decatur school district, Superintendent David Dude has been responsible for documenting his own vacation days, according to the terms of his contracts.

His current contract allows him to receive payment for unused vacation days. To date, Dude has received more than $100,000 in payments for unused vacation days since 2016, records show.

But the records also show Dude didn’t document those days in the school district’s payroll system until this year.

Last February, an auditor for City Schools of Decatur recommended that Dude document his leave in the district’s payroll system because he wasn’t using that system. But it wasn’t until Decaturish began asking about Dude’s vacation days that Dude entered about four years’ worth of vacation leave into that system, known as Frontline. He logged those days on Jan. 27 of this year, records show, entering 40 vacation days from 2017 to 2020.

Dude’s vacation days are the focus of a lawsuit filed by City Schools of Decatur’s former human resources director, David Adams. Adams alleges that Dude took more vacations than his contract allows and claims Dude pushed him and former finance director Susan Hurst out of the district when their allegations were reported to the school district’s attorney. Hurst and Adams both left the district in December 2019. At the time, School Board member Tasha White called the timing of their departures “coincidental.” Dude denies the allegations and has called them “slander” against the school system.

During an interview on Monday, Feb. 22, Dude provided more information about why he recorded all his vacation days in the Frontline system on the same day.

He said after the auditor raised the issue, he asked his assistant to record his leave in the Frontline system. Dude believes Hurst brought the issue to the auditor’s attention as she was leaving the district.

“On Jan. 27 [2021], I was running reports in response to your records request,” Dude said, referring to a records request from Decaturish. “My leave was not there, as I expected it to be. So, I went ahead and entered all of it using the spreadsheet where I track all of my leave for my records, and to ensure that there are multiple records moving forward, I also went ahead and entered all the leave into the board’s calendar at that time. Moving forward I’ll continue to document all my leave in that original spreadsheet and I’ll put it in the district’s leave system and the board calendar so there’s no question.”

White, who is now the School Board chair, also confirmed this.

“I believe after the [Fiscal Year 2019] audit it was believed it was going to be done from that point on and it wasn’t,” White said. “[Dude] did it himself, so it would match up with his vacation days.”

During his first year on the job, 2016, the district paid Dude $21,608 after he cashed out 30 vacation days so he could make a down payment on a home. His 2015 contract did not specify when he earned his vacation.

Subsequent revisions to his contract in 2017 made it clear that Dude’s vacation is earned at the beginning of the contract year and clarified language about pay outs for unused vacation days.

While payouts for vacation days are not unusual among superintendents – the superintendents in Atlanta and DeKalb County public schools can each cash-out 10 days, according to their contracts – Dude is able to cash out up to 30 days of the 45 vacation days he gets each year, according to his 2017 contract. Under his new contract, which takes effect July 1, he will receive 45 vacation days and will be able to cash out 45 vacation days.

Records provided by CSD show that Dude cashed out more than $100,000 worth of vacation days over the years, money he received in addition to his salary and bonuses. Dude’s current salary is $219,000. When his new contract goes into effect on July 1, his salary will increase to $255,704.

Unlike previous contracts, his new contract that goes into effect July 1 does not include performance bonuses.

The contract, signed in September, still says that Dude is responsible for maintaining a record of his vacation days and doesn’t say he has to put this information in the Frontline system. Dude says he will use the Frontline system going forward.

Here are the 40 vacation days Dude entered into the system on Jan. 27, 2021:

2017

Feb. 13 – Feb. 15

June 16 – June 22*

July 6 – July 14*

2018

June 18 – June 20

July 9 – July 16*

Aug 17

Sept. 17 – Sept. 19

2019

Feb. 18 – Feb. 19

July 12 – July 15*

2020

June 15 – June 19

Dec. 14 – Dec. 16

*These dates include a weekend. Those days have been subtracted from the final count of days reported in this article

The school district’s payments to Dude for his unused vacation days are as follows:

July 14, 2020 – $26,175

July 17, 2019 – $24,980

July 13, 2018 – $29,334

July 15, 2016 – $21,608

Total payments: $102,097

Note: There was no pay out in 2017, according to school district records

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