Ontario-Montclair School District Superintendent James Hammond, a finalist to become Pierce College’s next chancellor in Washington state, was not selected for the job, the college announced.
At its meeting on Wednesday, November 9, the Pierce College Board of Trustees selected Julie A. Manley White, president of one of Pierce College’s two campuses, to lead the college district instead.
“Nominations were received and evaluated by the board, as well as members of the Chancellor’s Search Advisory Committee made up of faculty, staff, students and community members,” said Steve Smith, chairman of the board. , in a press release. “Together, we believe Dr. White’s commitment and deep understanding of Pierce College’s mission, vision and values will lead us to a future where we can ensure that every student finds the support they need to to succeed.”
Hammond, regularly among California’s highest-paid superintendents, could leave the Ontario-Montclair district with an extra $695,700 if he landed the new job thanks to generous compensation that allowed him to rack up more than two years of sick leave. , while simultaneously cashing in up to 110 days off each year. He reportedly ended the year with total compensation over $1.2 million, according to analysis by the Southern California News Group.
Hammond, who was hired in 2010, did not respond to a request for comment.
His contract with Ontario-Montclair expires in 2025.
The superintendent of Ontario-Montclair has sparked controversy in recent years due to his increasingly high salary. His compensation, including benefits, reached $748,353 in 2021, more than double his contract salary of $320,000. That made him the highest-paid superintendent that year, well ahead of school district leaders with 10 times as many students, according to Transparent California. Hammond probably should have taken a big hand had he landed the chancellorship. The college paid its former chancellor a salary of $281,298 in 2021, according to public records.
Until recently, Hammond’s biggest pay rise came from a particular clause in his contract that allowed him to take 25 days of vacation and 30 days of sick leave, plus an additional five days for each year of service, and then to collect it annually. .
Removing those 110 days in 2021 resulted in $167,596 in extra pay.
The school board ended that practice in June, when it voted to cap Hammond’s vacation accruals at 110 days and to remove its ability to cash out each year. Without the change, Hammond could have been collecting per diem for more than 365 days a year by 2024.
In February, Hammond’s high salary prompted state lawmakers to introduce a bill requiring school districts to submit their pay rates to the state comptroller’s office each year.
Other additions to his contract over the years have drawn criticism. Records showed Hammond received a $100,000 home loan from the school board in 2011, then convinced the board not only to cancel the loan in its entirety, but to pay an additional $231,000 to repay the principal of the home, which had been inflated by nearly $100,000 of a line of credit taken out of the home’s equity.
The school district failed to properly register the loan, and Hammond was able to sell the house before repaying the loan and without obtaining permission from the school board as required by its agreements.
The board, however, absolved Hammond in December 2021 by voting unanimously on a resolution declaring he had fulfilled his obligations and approving a quitclaim deed, a legal document that removed the district’s interest in the property that Hammond had already sold.