Rani Goyal was promised a $56,000 severance check from Helix Charter High School when she suddenly resigned May 25 under still mysterious circumstances.
As executive director of the La Mesa school, she was almost two years into a four-year contract paying $130,000 a year plus expenses, according to documents obtained by Patch.
A 1,500-word settlement agreement signed by Goyal and Helix charter board chairman Brian Kick stipulated that “Goyal intends and expressly agrees that [the setlement] shall be effective as a bar to each and every claim, demand and cause of action Goyal has against [Helix].” See attached PDF.
But neither Goyal nor Helix officials have commented on what possible legal actions preceded the agreement, and the deal includes a “No admission of fault” clause for both parties.
The settlement also includes a gag order, saying Helix and Goyal “agree that the events leading to this agreement shall be maintained in privacy and confidence.”
The agreement itself was made available to Patch in response to a California Public Records Act request, and in a separate letter, Kick said the school “is not required to produce documents protected by the attorney client privilege. … To the extent your request includes the above information, or any other information exempted by the Public Records Act, Helix Charter High School denies your request.”
Goyal is listed as having a Temecula address, where she once was principal of Temecula Valley High School. A phone number associated with her name had a man’s outgoing message on the answering machine.
On Wednesday, she responded by private email, saying: “Do not call the home that you called yesterday and left a message. That is not my residence, and if you call this home again, I have informed them to take appropriate action.”
Further, she wrote: “I have no comment to you, and do not contact me through this email address either.”
Goyal signed the three-page agreement May 23, and Kick on May 25. It is described as a “complete, final and binding settlement of all claims and potential claims, if any.”
She quit less than two weeks before graduation.
On May 31, Goyal was to receive full pay for that month, and within 10 days was to be paid “a gross severance amount equivalent to five months of salary in the amount of $56,418.60,” the deal said.
Her original employment contract (attached as a PDF) had a clause on early termination that said:
The board may unilaterally and without cause or advance notice terminate this agreement. In consideration of the board’s right to terminate this agreement without cause, the board shall pay to the executive director the remainder of her salary (based upon any remaining calendared work days) for the term of this agreement or for a period of four months following the effective date of termination, whichever is less.
A review of Superior Court records in San Diego and Riverside counties has found no civil actions by Goyal against Helix Charter High School.
Teachers and staff at Helix have been in the dark, with only a press release to go by for details. But staff also learned that Goyal had departed under a “negotiated resignation,” one teacher told Patch.
At least one theory on her resignation was posted on a San Diego education blog.
On June 1, an anonymous commenter wrote:
Politically powerful teachers doesn’t even begin to describe the Good ol' Boys club of Helix. There’s a specific group of teachers who enjoyed the power and privilege of being the former principal’s cronies and fail to adapt to change. They are blinded by their own hurt egos to see that Ms. Goyal was the best thing that happened to Helix in a long time. The staff at Helix has gone and ignored the students and the parents, and showed that the charter board will forget democracy in order to please the Good ol’ Boys.
The commenter concluded: “I’ll always be a fan of Helix, having been a student there through recent tough times. But I sincerely hope that the teachers that I love and respect pull their act together in the interest of the students.”
The settlement also stipulated that “both HCHS and Goyal agree that they will do nothing to disparage the other in any communications after the date of this agreement.”