Tuesday, October 31, 2017

White Out! Superintendent to leave D181 on June 30, 2018

Well, it's official.  At last night's D181 Board Meeting, the board voted to approve "An Agreement to Mutually Terminate" ("Mutual Termination Agreement") Don White's contract on June 30, 2018.

We will let the facts speak for themselves and believe that the article published by the Hinsdale Doings this morning lays out the relevant facts.

Here is the link to the Doing's article:  10/31/2017 Doings Article.

Last night, we listened to the podcast of the meeting, as did hundreds of other community members.  (As of this posting, 490 people have accessed it.) The podcast can be accessed at:  10/30/17 Board meeting podcast.  Jump ahead to Counter 4:03:30 to listen to the public meeting that started around 9 pm.  

The Mutual Termination Agreement approved by 4 board members --  Burns, Gray, Patel and Kleber --  is available for the community to read on Board Docs at the following link:  Mutual Termination Agreement.  Board Members Turek and Giltner voted no. Board Member Lucht was absent. (We would also note that it appears Turek left the meeting right after the vote to approve the agreement, since he was declared absent during roll call votes that followed on other agenda items.  That, in our opinion was an unprofessional reaction to the majority's approval of the Mutual Termination Agreement, but Turek's childish behavior has become a norm that we will simply ignore as we continue to count the days until HE is no longer on the board.)

In addition to staying until June 30, 2018, the Mutual Termination Agreement provides a monetary cash buyout for White. If we are reading Section 4 of the agreement correctly, he is getting a $100,000 "severance payment" if he is unemployed on September 1, 2018.  If he is employed by that date, but is making $100,000 or less than $246,000 in base salary, he will be paid the difference up to $100,000 (minus tax withholdings).  There are also provisions to provide him with on-going insurance coverage through June 30, 2019 should he be unemployed, or if insurance from his new employer is not deemed "comparable" to the benefits he received in D181.  Further, he will be given a cash payment for unused vacation days.  

Wow.  Looks like he hit the jackpot.  We can only wonder what prompted the board to agree to pay him a big fat cash payment in addition to allowing him to stay through June 30, 2018, but at least he will be gone. 

Maybe we will learn more about what happened in executive session from the "leaker."

Yes, that's right folks, yesterday, a facebook comment made on the Vote Yes for HMS facebook page outed a male board member as leaking confidential executive session information that only board members should have been privy to.  Specifically, in response to comments about whether the 10/30/17 agenda item "Approval of Administrator Separation/Settlement Agreement" was about White,  a person commented:

"After talking with a board member this is the topic and don white does need support. He said he believes in him but he’s in the minority. Ugh."

The fact that one of the men on the board leaked executive session confidential information is deeply concerning, especially in light of the language in Section 8 of the Mutual Termination Agreement that prohibits any board member or White from disparaging each other AND limits comments by the parties to the agreement to the contents in the attached "Exhibit A" -- a Recomendation letter by the BOE for White to use in his employment search -- and "Exibit B" -- the Press Release read by Board President Burns during last night's meeting.  

Clearly, the Board AND White intended for there to be limited information released. But not withstanding the language in the Mutual Termination Agreement, it is a violation of board member fiduciary duties to disclose information discussed in executive sessions, especially regarding personnel matters.  It is now clear that at least one of the men on the board went rogue and decided to try and stop the Mutual Termination Agreement from getting approved by inciting public outcry at last night's meeting. 

The identity of the board member who leaked is already circulating in the community, but since we cannot with 100% certainty confirm his identity, we will not name him, but leave it to our readers to come to the same conclusion we have.  

Looking ahead, the Board should move swiftly to begin a search for White's replacement.  We urge the board to hire someone who will not just bring his "buddies" over from a prior district, but will make curriculum his/her focus and will find a way to balance the budget.   For those of you who listened to last night's meeting until the end, you heard that there is a large, multi-million looming deficit the Board will have to deal with in the next year.  It turns out that while the community has been doing a "happy dance" about building a bright and shiny new HMS, the other 8 schools have been allowed to degrade, insufficient money has been budgeted on White's watch to pay for the needed repairs (which include 2 new roofs  for the Lane and Elm) and now the district cannot afford to undertake the needed repairs without going into deficit.

Bottom line, to fund needed repairs at our other schools, there will need to be cuts.  And that will not be an easy task since the majority of the budget goes to pay teacher/administator/staff salaries and benefits.  The board will face a tough challenge to balance the budget without impacting the programs and services we have all grown to expect for our children. 

We urge everyone to start paying attention to issues that go beyond the HMS build.  Maybe then the parents who voiced their support for retaining White, will begin to understand that all is not rosy in D181 and there may have been many good reasons to "Mutually Terminate" his relationship.

As always, SOUND OFF!