Detroit, Education — June 27, 2014 at 8:45 am

Disgraced former EAA chief cashes out with hefty severance package


Earlier this month, John Covington, the former head of Governor Rick Snyder’s failed education experiment on Detroit students – the Education Achievement Authority (EAA) – resigned to become a consultant (and, according to Covington, to take care of his mother.) As Jack Lessenberry explained it in his Metro Times titled “Detroit’s EAA ‘fatally flawed'” (a terrific piece worth reading in its entirety), his “resignation” was a face-saving move for everyone involved.

John Covington, the imperial head of Detroit’s fatally flawed Education Achievement Authority, got fired last week.

They’re all denying that, of course. The cover story is that suddenly, at the start of the week, he “resigned to care for his ailing mother,” which is touching, presuming he has one.

The fact is that, with the clouds of scandal and failure surrounding him and the EAA that he created and led, Covington was fired.

Now we learn that Covington is coming in for a VERY soft landing:

John Covington received more than $74,000 in severance after quitting as chancellor of the embattled Education Achievement Authority, records obtained by The Detroit News show.

Covington left the job that paid $325,000 per year on June 17, saying he had to care for his sick mother. The day before, he signed a seven-page separation agreement that agreed to pay him $74,158 in unused time and two weeks’ pay.

The EAA wasn’t obligated to pay him anything because he quit, but officials with the reform district defended the severance.

That list bit is, perhaps, the most galling. Covington quit and that should have been that. He wasn’t in any way entitled to a severance package, particularly in light of how colossal a failure he turned out to be. Nevertheless, his supporters in Lansing decided to extend a considerable benevolence to him by cutting him a check for over $74,000 anyway.

But what’s also galling is the fact that Covington’s severance is more than the average pay of teachers in Michigan. According to the Department of Education, the average teacher salary in Michigan is $62,613. Teachers in Covington’s EAA only earn between $50,000 and $60,000 per year. Hell, the average annual salary in the state as a whole is just $44,540.

So, after creating a cloud of scandal around the EAA — from poor treatment of students to inadequately serving disabled children and from what can only be described as abuse of teachers to highly questionable spending by the district, Covington walks away with fistful of cash. In essence, he’s being rewarded for being an utter failure.

It’s a terrible lesson to teach Detroit kids. But, given that John Covington is involved, that is not surprising in the least.