School boards have approved six-figure separation checks,
district-paid health care, cash for sick days and, in one case, even
title to a Mercedes-Benz, to unwanted superintendents, according to
a story in the Chicago Tribune.
The newspaper reviewed more than
100 superintendent contracts, financial records and severance
agreements statewide over the last 10 years, obtained through the
state's Freedom of Information Act.
Part of the reason for the healthy severances is fear of
lawsuits, but other experts say the deals are made behind closed
doors and without the public's scrutiny.
"In these tough economic times, we've got to make common-sense,
fair decisions," said Anne Bryant, executive director of the
National School Boards Association. "It probably is not going to
look like it has in the past. We cannot mirror Wall Street. These
are publicly paid individuals."
In one case, Stanley Fields, a former superintendent of a Cook
County school district resigned after a just a year. He left Proviso
Township High School District 209 with a $100,000 severance payment
and had left a previous Lake County high school earlier, getting
more than $30,000 in unused vacation.
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Fields, now superintendent of South Berwyn School District 100,
declined to discuss his departure from Proviso. But in his
resignation letter he apologized to the community, saying there was
a "lack of communication" as well as a "deterioration of trust" with
the board, according to the Tribune.
The president of Proviso's school board, Chris Welch, said
termination of a superintendent isn't cheap, and school boards
should talk about all options, including buyouts or resignation
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