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Central Bucks won’t fight Lucabaugh’s $700K+ severance deal


The Central Bucks School Board announced Tuesday it will not challenge the more than $700,000 severance package former district Superintendent Abram Lucabaugh received following his sudden resignation late last year.

School board president Karen Smith detailed the decision in a statement, saying the board and its attorney — David Conn — investigated the legality of the deal, which outraged many in the community.

“After reviewing the various scenarios, the board has decided not to fight the separation agreement and will move on. We believe the reward is not worth the risk,” wrote Smith.

“While the board believes the separation agreement was excessive, we are not sure it was illegal,” she said, noting it was drafted and approved by the previous school board and an attorney it hired to draft the agreement. “That attorney gave no indication that it was illegal,” said Smith.

Pennsylvania’s school code was modified in 2015, limiting how much a superintendent could be given in a severance package to one year’s salary. However, Smith said, “There is some ambiguity on other aspects of payments” in employment contracts, such as compensation for sick days.

Central Bucks’ employment agreement allows for an administrator to receive $15 per day for unused sick days. The prior school board’s contract with Lucabaugh though provided a per diem payout, which amounted to $274,000.

Because the school code isn’t clear on whether such restrictions on unused sick day pay apply to only a first contract or subsequent agreements, Smith said a challenge to Lucabaugh’s payment would end up in court.

“In the best case scenario, a judge could rule that the sick day payment should be following the Act 93 agreement and the $274,000 would be reduced,” Smith wrote. “In this scenario, the district likely would have incurred more than $75,000 in legal fees.”

Act 93 is the employment agreement with a school district and its administrator.

Another potential outcome of a court challenge, according to Smith, would be finding the separation agreement was illegal and reinstating Lucabaugh as superintendent.

Given the options, the board decided against pursing a legal challenge.

Smith listed the board’s reasoning, as follows:

• A new superintendent is starting July 1 and the board does not want to risk Lucabaugh being reinstated.

• The previous board’s legal review found the agreement to be legal.

• If a judge ruled the severance deal must follow Act 93’s sick day payout, the district could recover $180,000, “but that is far from a guaranteed outcome.”

“If we lose this case, the consequences are extreme,” said Smith. “We have spent the last four months deliberating this case. The risk is greater than the reward.”

In July 2023, the previous school board ended Lucabugh’s contract with two years remaining, and approved a new five-year agreement that included an $85,000 raise, taking his salary to $315,000.

However, after the November election flipped the board from a GOP-majority to a Democratic one, Lucabaugh abruptly resigned, initiating the $700,000-plus severance package.

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