Best Political Coup (2011)
Ouster of Palm Beach Schools Superintendent Art Johnson
A vocal group of parents and teachers had been calling for Art Johnson's head for a year, blaming him for a new cookie-cutter curriculum many detested. Johnson canned his reviled chief academic officer, Jeffrey Hernandez, but he couldn't quell the uproar. Parents soon discovered that Hernandez had been moonlighting in Memphis while still on the payroll in Palm Beach County. They asked to see emails from Hernandez's last six months on the job and learned that the emails had disappeared. The possibility that Johnson sanctioned the moonlighting and/or had a hand in destroying the paper trail turned out to be the end of the superintendent's career. Before the board could publicly discuss firing him, he stealthily began crafting an exit plan that gave him a $428,000-plus golden parachute. It all happened so fast that even his worst enemies were surprised. Ordinary citizens ousting a powerful politician over a public records scandal? Only in the Sunshine State.