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Farmington Superintendent Brad Meeks, who has led the school district through major changes and controversy, will resign mid-contract under an agreement approved Monday by the school board.

Under the deal, Meeks will leave his job by the end of this summer, a full year before his current three-year contract expires.

In a joint statement issued Monday, the board and superintendent said they have mutually agreed upon terms of a plan in which Meeks will serve as transition superintendent until Aug. 31, though board chairwoman Tera Lee said he may leave sooner if he finds another job.

It was unclear Monday night exactly how and why the agreement came about. Neither Meeks nor Lee would say how long the parties have been negotiating.

Lee said she could not say whether the deal with Meeks was the topic of a closed session that preceded the vote. Possible litigation that Lee said was included in the closed discussion was not threatened by either the superintendent or the district. She did not respond to a question asking whether the threat of legal action came from a district employee.

Asked why the board is looking for new leadership, she said, "I think it would just put to rest a lot of issues we have had."

Supporters have called Meeks, who came to the district in 2003, a strong, visionary leader who has helped Farmington transition from rural farming community to full-fledged suburb.

But he has also led the district through contentious territory, including lawsuits with both the city of Farmington and an architect over construction of a new high school.

Tim Burke, long a vocal critic of Meeks, was the only board member to vote against the agreement, saying he disagreed with aspects of it. However, the board's 5-1 vote is sure to be seen by some as a victory for Burke, though Burke said Monday that "it's not a game."

Monday's vote comes less than three months after Burke was censured by fellow board members after they ordered an investigation into his conduct. His alleged misdoings included persistent attempts to undermine Meeks, as well as the illegal disclosure of data on district employees and information obtained in closed board meetings.

Lee said Monday that the investigation of Burke's conduct did not lead to Meeks' resignation. "I would say this was separate," she said.

Details of the agreement will not be made available until the deal has been executed, Lee said. It includes severance pay, she said.

Meeks' current contract, which expires in August 2012, calls for paying him a base salary of $176,000 for this school year.

Sarah Lemagie • 952-882-9016