District to pay superintendent $115,000 severancePublished 1:21pm Friday, March 7, 2014
Former Niles Community Schools Superintendent Richard Weigel will be paid one year’s salary as part of a severance package and will receive his normal wages through June 30 while serving as a consultant. Those details are spelled out in a separation agreement between Weigel and the district that the Niles Daily Star obtained Friday through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Both parties agreed to keep the agreement confidential but acknowledged it would have to be released through a FOIA.
The board of education formally accepted Weigel’s resignation Wednesday, March 5, although the separation agreement states the resignation became effective Feb. 24. District officials said several times during that week-and-a-half period that Weigel was out on sick leave.
The agreement states that Weigel’s resignation is voluntary. The school board held nearly a half dozen closed sessions to discuss personnel matters during the weeks before his resignation. When asked to comment after one of those sessions, board president Kathy Zeider said there was an investigation that began last month, but she declined to elaborate because it was attorney/client privileged information.
Weigel, who was hired in 2010, will continue to pay the employee contribution for healthcare and other benefits and receive those benefits through June 30.
At that time, the district will pay Weigel $115,000 in a lump sum severance payment. After that, the district will not make any salary payments to him.
Weigel’s contract was set to expire June 30, 2016. His base wage was $115,000, so the district essentially bought out his contract for less than half of what he would have been paid in salary and benefits over the next two years.
“If the district had paid out Dr. Weigel’s full contract, it would have cost more than double — when including benefits — (than) the separation agreement cost. As such, this is a fiscally conservative move for the district,” the board of education said in an emailed statement.
“While the Board conducts a comprehensive search for a permanent replacement, it was determined that it would be beneficial that Dr. Weigel serve as a consultant for the remainder of the school year to ensure a smooth transition,” the prepared release stated.
The district also agreed to write a positive letter of recommendation, acknowledging Weigel’s achievements as superintendent. In that letter, the board pointed out that the district’s enrollment increased every year under Weigel’s watch and that ACT and NWEA scores have also improved. The letter also acknowledged that Weigel was the driving force behind opening a New Tech school in the district and the re-opening of Eastside Connection School as a magnet school.
“The administrators have been pushed under his leadership and he has done his best to teach them,” the letter reads. “He leads by example. He consistently talks about school culture and how that is the key toward making improvements.”
Since Weigel was given significant praise in the letter, what specifically went wrong between Weigel, the board and the administrators remains a mystery.
In a resignation letter to the board dated Feb. 25, one day after the date referenced in the agreement, Weigel wrote that his “vision for the future of the district differs fundamentally from the vision held by some members of the administration and perhaps some members of the board. These fundamental differences will inevitably interfere with my ability to effectively lead this district according to my vision.”
Language in the separation agreement also indicates that some administrators and board members had developed irreconcilable and fundamental differences on the leadership vision of the district but did not offer any specific examples.
Weigel did not return a phone call Friday or messages left earlier in the week. Zeider was unavailable for comment Friday, according to the district’s public relations firm.
The entire separation agreement can be read here.