Former Palo Alto High School Principal Phil Winston has received a $150,000 payment from the school district in exchange for his resignation from his middle-school teaching position and departure from Palo Alto Unified, an agreement obtained by the Weekly states.
"Winston and (the) district agree it is in their mutual best interests to end their employment relationship," states the resignation-agreement-and-release document, which was signed on May 8 by Winston and May 12 by Superintendent Max McGee. It was approved by the Board of Education.
Winston releases the district from any claims and future lawsuits having to do with his employment, and both he and the district agree to a non-disparagement clause.
The district agreed to pay Winston the $150,000 settlement, along with his regular salary through May 1.
Though the terms of his resignation have been made public, the circumstances surrounding it are to remain confidential, according to the agreement.
The June 9 board packet lists Winston's reason for leaving as "personal," and when contacted about his resignation, Winston said he had no comment.
Winston's departure from Paly was marked by controversy. Though he joined the district in 2005 as a teacher at JLS Middle School and rose to assistant principal at Gunn High prior to being named principal at Paly, he resigned from Paly position in June 2013 after three years on the job, saying he needed to guard his health.
However, in August 2013 he was issued a formal "notice of unprofessional conduct and unsatisfactory performance" and instructed to refrain from using profanity, sexual comments and innuendo, and derogatory terms, among other directives. He was also reassigned to teach a special-education class at Jordan Middle School, where he remained through this spring.
During an investigation into complaints against him in 2013, Winston denied the characterization of his actions and said that his behavior, particularly during an extremely stressful period, had been "misinterpreted."
The circumstances of Winston's discipline and reassignment from Paly to Jordan was not revealed publicly until April, 2014, after the Weekly obtained documents from the district under the Public Records Act.
Then-Superintendent Kevin Skelly said then that the disciplinary action was the most serious consequence he could give and that "We have no reason to believe that the conduct that occurred (at Paly) will be repeated" at Jordan.
Winston's resignation from the district was effective May 1.