The Glasgow School Board accepted the resignation of Superintendent Glenn Hageman at its regular meeting on Dec. 14, but was divided over whether to pursue buying out his contract, which expires June 30, 2012. Trustees Patt Etchart and Alison Molvig agreed to gather more information for the board and Chairman Dave Irving asked for a special meeting on this issue before the end of the year, or as soon as possible.
Hageman submitted his resignation at the end of the November board meeting, effective when his contract expires at the end of the school year. The resignation was accepted at this meeting by a 4-1 vote, Dr. Charles Wilson voting no.
The superintendent is still owed half a year’s salary under the contract, $44,885, plus $18,213 in vacation and sick leave, for a total of $63,098. Any additional payment under a buyout would be a subject for negotiation.
The issue for Chairman Irving is using a buyout as leverage to induce Hageman to release the legal claim he has initiated against the district. Hageman notified the district’s insurance company in July that he may sue the school district for breach of contract, harassment, intimidation and age discrimination. This claim is in response to the board’s extending his contract for a year in May and then rescinding that action.
“If this is an opportunity for Glenn to leave early, it is also an opportunity for us to end the claim,” he said. It would assure new applicants of a clean start with the district.
Irving and Hageman have both consulted the district’s legal counsel, Marilee Duncan, about the mechanics of a buyout. Duncan participated in this meeting by telephone.
The board went into executive session for about 15 minutes to discuss litigation strategy on the claim. Hageman left the room with the rest of the people attending the meeting. Wilson also left the room, saying he did not think the issue justified an executive session.
Irving said he has approached Hageman about a buyout and Hageman is interested to see what the board would offer.
“If the board wants me out, I’ll consider an offer,” Hageman said. “First I want a board motion to do so.”
He said he wondered if the whole board wanted to do this. He said that at least two board members, Wilson and Suzanne Billingsley, had not been aware that Irving was exploring a buyout.
Irving asked the board for a motion to initiate the process of a buyout, but the other trustees resisted, and asked for further discussion and more information. They expressed a reluctance to incur the added expense of a buyout plus hiring a short-term replacement while they conduct a search for a new superintendent.
“I don’t believe a buyout is in the best interest of the district,” said Billingsley. “I don’t like paying people not to work. It’s fiscally irresponsible.”
Wilson said he could think of other places to put the money, such as the music or sports program. Etchart said she was not inclined to double up on the cost of a superintendent. Molvig said she was very concerned about the cost. If the board pursues the issue and determines the cost, they could always say no, she said.
The board voted to hire the services of the Montana School Board Association in their search for a new superintendent. The MTSBA can do the background searches, present the board with a short list of qualified finalists, and even supply a script of questions to ask at the interviews.