The Richardson ISD board of trustees accepted the resignation of Superintendent Jeannie Stone during its Dec. 13 meeting and approved a separation and release agreement with her. The board then named Tabitha Branum as the interim superintendent for the remainder of the school year.

“I am honored to serve the students, teachers and families of RISD as the interim superintendent,” Branum said in a statement. “We will continue the focus of serving all students and working to allow each of them to reach their full academic potential. I am grateful to Dr. Stone for her leadership and contributions, thankful to our board of trustees for this opportunity and humbled to work in service of our amazing RISD students and employees.”

Branum has been the district's deputy superintendent since January 2017. Prior to that, she had served as an assistant superintendent for the district since July 2014.

Stone did not attend the RISD board meeting.

"Dr. Stone and the board have reached an agreement that allows her to pursue other interests and permits the board to pursue hiring another superintendent," board President Regina Harris read from a joint statement from Stone and the district. "The board and Dr. Stone have entered into the agreement believing it is in their respective best interests and in the best interests of the district. Prior to the effective date of her resignation, Dr. Stone will remain employed in the district and will assist the interim or successor superintendent during that time."

A copy of the separation agreement posted to the district website states the effective date of her resignation is Aug. 31 next year. As part of the agreement, Stone agreed to be reassigned to the position of transition liaison for the duration of her employment.

As part of the statement, Harris expressed the board's "sincere appreciation" for Stone and her efforts as superintendent.

"Dr. Stone thanks the present and past board of trustees for providing her with the opportunity to serve in the Richardson Independent School District and would like to express her heartfelt appreciation to the staff and community for their support of the district’s programs and services during her term as superintendent," Harris read from the statement. "Success requires hard work, dedication, leadership and vision. The board and Dr. Stone wish to acknowledge and recognize the teachers, principals, administrators, staff, students, parents and patrons who have contributed to the district’s success. The board extends its best wishes to Dr. Stone in her future endeavors."

As part of the statement, Harris said the board will begin the search for a new permanent superintendent immediately. The district serves nearly 38,000 students in Richardson, Dallas and Garland.

"This decision is a tough decision for every member of this board," Harris said in introducing the separation agreement. "We are a district that has to stand strong. We've got to move forward, and we've got to make sure that you put the right people in place that [are] going to help us lead and do the right thing for ... everyone that is in this district."

Stone was promoted to superintendent in January 2017 after serving as the district’s deputy superintendent from July 2015 to that time.

Prior to joining RISD, Stone began her career as a middle school English teacher with Dallas ISD in 1990, according to the district's website. She also later served in various leadership positions with Mesquite ISD and as an assistant superintendent with Wylie ISD.

During her tenure with RISD, Stone was named the 2017 Superintendent of the Year by the Texas Educational Support Staff Association and the 2019 Texas Superintendent of the Year by the Texas PTA, according to the district website.

The RISD board held a special called meeting Dec. 6 to discuss Stone’s evaluation during a closed session, but no action was taken. According to board agendas, trustees also discussed her evaluation during closed sessions at the May 10, June 14, Oct. 4 and Nov. 15 meetings.

Stone's resignation is the second change in leadership in recent months for the district. Former RISD board President Karen Clardy resigned Sept. 24 in a letter to Stone and the other trustees.

Clardy gave no reason for her resignation in her Sept. 24 letter. She had held the board’s District 5 seat since 2017. The RISD board voted unanimously to accept her resignation during its Oct. 4 meeting.

Updated at 9:23 p.m. Dec. 13: This article has been updated to include details from the separation and release agreement posted to the district website.