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AG: Early termination of Manheim Township Superintendent broke the law, cost $358K

AG: Early termination of Manheim Township Superintendent broke the law, cost $358K

The Auditor General announced on Monday that Manheim Township School District "broke state law when it failed to publicly vote on the separation agreement with its former superintendent" and the the termination cost the district at least $358,000.

“School boards certainly have a right to terminate a superintendent’s contract. However, the process should be completely transparent and done legally,” Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said. “The process Manheim Township School District used to terminate the former superintendent’s contract was neither.”

Over 25 people contacted DePasquale's office about the termination, and other financial issues, according to DePasquale.

DePasquale says that the school board made two errors when they terminated the former superintendent's contract.

The first error was when the board accepted the resignation and signed the separation agreement but it was "deliberately omitted" from the agenda for its Jan. 21, 2016 meeting. The agenda was amended during the meeting to include the resignation.

“Details of the former superintendent’s resignation and resulting separation agreement were provided to the public by the news media, not by the board,” DePasquale said. “Simply making a motion to amend the agenda is inexcusable. Manheim Township School District taxpayers deserve more transparency.”

The second error was that the "board never publicly approved the separation agreement," which is a violation of the Public School Code.

“Pennsylvania’s Public School Code is very clear,” DePasquale said. “The law requires a public vote, and the Manheim Township School Board didn’t do that.”

“While I appreciate that Manheim Township School District officials believed they were acting in the district’s best interest, the Public School Code requires good governance practices for a reason,” DePasquale said. “The fact is that this separation agreement broke the law by providing benefits not included in the original contract.”

The costs associated with the separation agreement were:

  • $172, 000 in salary and retirement contributions for the former superintendent
  • $63,350 in salary for the acting superintendent
  • $17,000 for a search firm to find a new superintendent
  • $105,590 to investigate a related personnel matter

“This termination agreement was costly,” DePasquale said. “Every single dollar spent on contract buy-outs is one less dollar going to programs for students. School districts must carefully consider the financial impact of contract negotiations and buy-outs.”

In response to the findings the district says they have made changes to the way it conducts business, “the District Administration worked closely with the PA Auditor Generals Office, providing the information that was needed to show best practices and to conduct the full audit. I am proud of how thoroughly this District continues to operate in the best interest of Manheim Township students.”

RELATED:

Many call for Manheim Twp. school board president to resign

Manheim Township Board of Directors cleared of alleged Sunshine Act violation

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