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Jefferson Parish Schools Superintendent Isaac Joseph attends a meeting of the school board at the school system administration building next to school board member Melinda Bourgeois in Harvey, La. Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018.

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON

Isaac Joseph has spent more than three decades working in the Jefferson Parish public school system, eventually assuming the top job of superintendent in 2015. 

In three weeks, that career will end.

A unanimous Jefferson Parish School Board voted Wednesday evening to buy out the remaining four months of Joseph's contract, ending months of wrangling and uncertainty over his future with the school district.

According to the terms of an agreement, Joseph's last day as superintendent will be Feb. 28. He will be paid what he would have made through the end of his contract, which runs through June 30, plus nearly 100 days of accumulated sick and leave time.

After the vote was taken, board President Mark Morgan thanked Joseph, who received a standing ovation from the board.

Board member Marion Bonura told Joseph that he had the school system headed "in the right direction."

"We just didn't give you enough time," Bonura said. "I wish we could have given you more time."

The vote means the way is clear for the board to bring in a new superintendent as early as March 5, which would mark the required 30 days since the last ad for the position was posted. 

As Isaac Joseph's tenure at top of Jefferson school system nears end, uncertainty looms

When the board first moved to notify him that his contract was not going to be renewed, Joseph indicated that he wanted to stay as long as possible in the system he has served for more than three decades.

A few weeks later, however, Joseph said that all options "were still on the table."

Wednesday's special meeting was called after he presented terms that Morgan thought were worth putting before the entire board.

Joseph said after the meeting that he had come up with a package that worked for him and he presented it to Morgan on Tuesday morning.

He said he expects to be smiling when he wakes up on March 1.

"Not having to get up so early," he said when asked what he was looking forward to, adding that he is still figuring out what he will do after his tenure with the system ends.

Joseph has earned $210,000 a year as head of the state's largest school system.

Jefferson Parish School Board, superintendent in talks for buyout of contract

The deadline for submitting applications to replace him is Feb. 23. One possible candidate — DeSoto Parish School Superintendent Cade Brumley, who has been widely mentioned as a strong candidate for the position — said in a text message Wednesday that he had not submitted an application, but that he was "flattered" at being mentioned as a candidate.

Joseph, the Jefferson system's first African-American superintendent, had been at odds with members of the board for more than a year. At his first evaluation, in late 2016, the board decided to award him a second 18-month contract but denied him any performance-related bonuses. 

Late last summer, some board members suggested that the system needed new leadership.

Cedric Floyd, one of Joseph's biggest supporters when he was hired in 2015, accused him of violating board policy and state law. Those charges have never been made public, but an outside attorney presented a report detailing his findings late last month.

During Joseph's tenure, the school system's overall district performance score slipped from a B to a C in the state's scoring system, though Joseph and his supporters have noted that the state changed the metrics on which the grades were determined, making a B more difficult to reach.

Joseph also said the 18-month contracts hamstrung his ability to enact his vision for the school system.

Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter, @faimon.