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An Idaho school superintendent wouldn’t resign, so this person paid him $400,000 to leave

New Plymouth School District Superintendent Kevin Barker
New Plymouth School District Superintendent Kevin Barker

$400,000.

That’s how much one anonymous third party was willing to pay embattled New Plymouth Superintendent Kevin Barker to resign from his position, a resignation ultimately accepted at a special school board meeting on April 25.

Barker was accused by opponents — which included the New Plymouth Education Association, the school district’s teacher’s union — for months of being a workplace bully who created a hostile environment for teachers who disagreed with his leadership style. Barker also had supporters attend school board meetings to advocate for him to remain superintendent.

As outlined in the settlement agreement, which was obtained by the Idaho Statesman through a public records request, the school district will retain Barker as a consultant for the district for $1,500 a month through June 30, 2020.

According to Barker’s contract, his annual salary is almost $90,000.

The $400,000 will be paid entirely by a third party, and none of that money will come from the school district’s general fund “or any public funds,” the settlement agreement states.

“Barker may designate, in his discretion, how the lump sum payment is distributed to him, and may direct said payment be made to High Valley Consulting, LLC.” According to Secretary of State business records, that LLC was created by Barker on April 25, the day the school board met in executive session to discuss Barker’s resignation.

Barker may take the lump sum payment over a period of time through December 2020, according to the settlement agreement.

“Because of his connection with the schools and students the decision to resign was difficult,” said Julie Klein Fischer, Barker’s attorney, in a statement last week. “Nonetheless, this change presents Mr. Barker with the ability to explore other opportunities and allows him much needed time to focus on family. “

Barker’s resignation will go into effect June 30, and he will complete principal evaluations and help the district’s school board transition to a new superintendent, according to the settlement agreement.

Under the agreement, Barker will:

  • Receive $400,000 from a third-party donor.
  • Receive a monthly salary of $1,500 for consulting duties through June 2020, even if he gets another job.
  • Continue to receive life insurance, full family health insurance benefits and retirement contributions through PERSI, the state’s retirement system, through June 2020.
  • Receive a letter of recommendation from the school board.
  • Retain his Microsoft Surface and laptop computer issued to him through the district.

In March, the school board met with supporters and objectors to talk about Barker’s leadership of the district. The board then released a statement in full support of Barker.

First Baptist Church Pastor Phil Pittman previously told the Idaho Statesman that the New Plymouth Community Cares group began forming Jan. 17, the day New Plymouth High School principal Clete Edmunson initially resigned from the school and students held a protest outside of the administration office. Edmunson said Barker pressured him to resign over a personnel matter, a claim Barker denies, and Edmunson later rescinded his resignation. Edmunson resigned again and is now the superintendent of the Council School District.

The New Plymouth Community Cares group, established in January when the controversy over Barker’s leadership first boiled over into the public sphere, started a movement to recall all five members of the district’s school board. That effort will now likely cease, according to the education association.

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