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Ex-Woodland Hills principal poised to get severance package on his way out

Ben Schmitt
| Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, 3:51 p.m.
Kevin Murray (center) and former athletic director and football coach George Novak (right) listen to board discussion while protesters voice their objections at the Woodland Hills School Board meeting on Wednesday, April 20. The board voted 5-4 to hire Murray as head coach.
Kevin Murray (center) and former athletic director and football coach George Novak (right) listen to board discussion while protesters voice their objections at the Woodland Hills School Board meeting on Wednesday, April 20. The board voted 5-4 to hire Murray as head coach.
Woodland Hills High School Principal Kevin Murray (left) listens to his attorney, Phillip DiLucente speak to the media at DiLucente's office downtown, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Woodland Hills High School Principal Kevin Murray (left) listens to his attorney, Phillip DiLucente speak to the media at DiLucente's office downtown, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016.

Former Woodland Hills High School Principal Kevin Murray will likely receive a severance package in exchange for resigning from the school district.

The value of the pay and benefits that could be part of that package is unknown, for now.

District officials announced Murray's resignation Wednesday at a school board meeting.

Superintendent Alan Johnson told the Tribune-Review on Thursday that details of the severance would be released once school district solicitors and Murray's attorney review the agreement and Murray signs it.

“Mr. Murray also has a statutory period of time to reconsider his decision,” Johnson said. “Nothing will be released until that period of time passes.”

He said Murray, 40, has seven days to reconsider his decision, once he signs the agreement, under the federal Older Workers Benefit Protection Act.

“Once that expires the agreement is permanent and unchangeable and at that point we are able to release it to the public,” Johnson said. “The agreement has been drafted, but I am not privy as to whether Mr. Murray has yet signed it.”

Murray's attorney, Phil DiLucente, confirmed the agreement but declined further comment. In a statement Wednesday, he said Murray's resignation “was in the best interest of both parties.”

Murray also resigned last week as head football coach. He previously served as an assistant coach.

Since July 1, Murray had been on unpaid leave as principal because of a lapse in his state administrator's certification. The state Department of Education did not renew the certification amid several high-profile controversies involving school police officers captured on video putting a high school student in a headlock and pinning a student to the ground with Murray's help.

The controversies surfaced last fall after Pittsburgh attorney Todd Hollis released an audio recording of Murray threatening to knock a student's teeth out.

He was placed on administrative leave Nov. 30 during a criminal investigation and reinstated in January after the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office declined to pursue charges.

When Murray resigned as football coach he sent assistants and players an emotional letter that revealed his anger with the situation.

“My biggest regret in all of this, is the fact that I was never allowed to provide people with the truth behind most of this negative attention,” he wrote. “People like to throw stones from a distance and make accusations and assumptions that are false. People that know me and know that the absolute bulls--- and nonsense are false, they continue to allow the venom to be spewed toward me and this program.”

Assistant Principal Candee Nagy will serve as acting principal.

Hollis said of the agreement with Murray: “Ultimately, my concern and focus is with the safety of my clients and the other children at Woodland Hills High School. To the extent that Mr. Murray's removal from the district was achieved through a financial agreement is of little consequence to me.

“However, if public resources were used to satisfy the terms of that contract those terms need to be disclosed immediately to the public.”

Staff writer Jamie Martines contributed. Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991, bschmitt@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @Bencschmitt.

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