UPDATE, May 6: Socorro Independent School District Superintendent Jose Espinoza, who resigned from his post at a school board meeting Wednesday night, is being paid $629,308 to depart.
That's according to a copy of his separation agreement with the school district, which was obtained Thursday by ABC-7.
The payout reflected in the agreement is the equivalent of one year's salary and benefits under Espinoza's contract.
Below is the copy of the agreement for viewing.
ORIGINAL REPORT, May 5: EL PASO, Texas -- At a special meeting of the Socorro Independent School District Board of Trustees on Wednesday evening, Superintendent Jose Espinoza agreed to resign in a voluntary separation deal that results in his immediate departure from the district despite having time still remaining on his contract.
The separation agreement was approved by the board following an executive session for which the lone agenda item was listed as "action regarding the contract of Superintendent Jose Espinoza, Ed.D." However, the board did not initially indicate why Espinoza's contract, which ran through 2025, had come up as a discussion topic.
Terms of the agreement were not immediately known, but Espinoza is now free to pursue other opportunites and the district can hire a new superintendent.
Espinoza described his departure as a "mutual" decision with the district based on his understanding that a newly-elected school board due to take office later this month desired a change in leadership. A statement later issued by the board said the two sides "entered into the agreement believing it is in the best interests" of SISD.
Wednesday's decision was made by SISD's outgoing board, of which two members were ousted last week by voters in the May election. The new board will be left to decide on naming both an interim superintendent and a permanent replacement.
Board President Cyndy Najera praised Espinoza's work during his nine years as superintendent, describing "unprecedented success" in student achievement and test scores, teacher mentoring and the championing of a bond measure that funded reconstruction of Socorro High School. Members of the limited audience in attendance at the meeting gave Espinoza a standing ovation in appreciation of his service, some with tears in their eyes.
"It's a good time to go back home," Espinoza said, speaking of his native Houston where he plans to return to spend time with family for now.
Espinoza did make negative headlines at one point during his tenure when he and the superintendent of the Ysleta Independent School District got into a late night scuffle at a Whataburger restaurant during a state education conference.
SISD now becomes the second of the three major El Paso school districts to be in search of a new superintendent. The other is the El Paso Independent School District, which launched an online community survey Wednesday to aid the search firm it retained in identifying candidates. That EPISD survey can be found by clicking here.