The Hesperia Unified School District will be holding a special meeting Tuesday evening with one item on the agenda: Superintendent Hank Richardson.

The meeting, announced Thursday morning, consists only of a closed-door session, covering "contract negotiations regarding [the] superintendent's contract." Evaluations of Richardson's performance have been a staple of closed-door board meetings for several months now.

Richardson has been on paid administrative leave since July 16, despite the 2007-2008 school year beginning in mere weeks, a time when school administrators are typically at their busiest. District personnel policy prohibits discussing the reasons an employee has been placed on administrative leave.

Rumors have circulated for several weeks that Richardson is close to being fired or resigning, less than a year after taking over the position at the start of the 2006-2007 school year.

The meeting caps off a school year filled with administration employee departures, which former Kingston Elementary School Principal David Long laid squarely at the feet of the three newly elected school board members at the July 23 school board meeting and in letters to the editor submitted to the Hesperia Star and Daily Press.

"Hesperia is one of several union run, dare I say, bought and paid for school districts in the state of California," Long's letter reads, in part. "Every member of the board was a teacher or is married to a teacher and while the interests of teachers should be represented on a school board, no school board should represent the exclusive interests of any group. No matter how hard they try, I don't believe the current board members can represent the community's interests in our schools. ... I also believe they are putting this school district in jeopardy economically, academically, and in leadership, in terms of who is attracted to the district or who stays as administrators."

Getting rid of certain HUSD administrators was explicitly one of the goals of the Hesperia Teachers Association, the local teachers union.

"Winning three more school board members is a huge victory, not only for the teachers, but also for the students and the community," HTA president Jim Pace wrote in the January 2007 HTA newsletter. "Five years ago, district leadership issued pink slips to every teacher. ... Instead of thinking about what was best for the students, teachers and school sites, their priorities were what was best for them. Thanks to you, those days are over! Most of the district's leadership that caused these problems are now gone and the school board members that went along with these plans have now been voted out of office."

Richardson has a three-year contract, which runs through 2009. If the board wants him out in the interim, they have the option of moving him to another position within the district, although he will retain his benefits and salary until his contract ends. The former eighth-grade teacher could end up being the best-paid driver's education instructor in the district, even as the board hires a new superintendent to replace him.

The special meeting of the HUSD school board meeting will be held Tuesday, August 7 at 5:30 p.m. in Sultan Hall at Sultana High School. It will be followed at approximately 5:50 by a meeting of the Hesperia Institute for ExCEL.

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.