Education

West Ada school board challenges superintendent’s account; Clark holds her ground

Linda Clark resigns

Flanked by employees from the West Ada School District, Linda Clark announces her resignation as superintendent, effective immediately Friday, Oct. 23, 2015.
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Flanked by employees from the West Ada School District, Linda Clark announces her resignation as superintendent, effective immediately Friday, Oct. 23, 2015.

The chairwoman of the Board of Trustees accused former Superintendent Linda Clark of misrepresenting the amount of money she was offered in a severance package last week.

Clark, who resigned Friday, said she was offered a “pittance” to leave the district, and stuck by her account in an interview with the Statesman on Wednesday.

Chairwoman Tina Dean said in a statement Wednesday that trustees offered Clark more than $50,000 and doubted that residents would agree that such an amount is a “pittance,” particularly because that amount was more than what Clark would have been due under her contract, “and for which she would have to render no further service,” Dean said.

The trustees offered the $56,000 “to put an end to what has become a distracting sideshow for the district,” Dean said.

But $56,000 represented just her 20 percent retirement bonus, part of her contract and two months’ salary, Clark told the Statesman. Clark insists she had a three-year contract with the district through 2018 — although trustees voted to void the last year of the contract, saying it was approved in a meeting that violated the state’s open meeting law.

Even more, Clark said, the agreement required her to leave the district the day after the Nov. 3 levy vote. Clark said she felt that was dishonest to district residents.

Dean said the board never demanded that Clark resign but did discuss a possible “exit strategy.”

“While it is true that the board did request that Dr. Clark defer announcing the agreement until after the upcoming vote on the supplemental levy, it did so only because the board hoped to submit the levy to a vote in an atmosphere uncharged by controversy to the extend possible under the circumstances,” Dean said in her statement.

“They can spin it however they want,” Clark said. “Those are the facts.”

Copies of the statement were emailed to employees throughout the district Wednesday, said Eric Exline, district spokesman.

Dean did not return a phone message seeking additional comment; neither did trustees who had clashed with Clark.

Mike Vuittonet, a trustee and defender of Clark, told the board Wednesday that he did not agree with Dean’s letter and would not sign it. “I don’t believe it is factual and true,” he told the Statesman.

Clark’s resignation followed four tumultuous months for the superintendent and trustees, who complained about her contract, which several felt was bloated, and her appointment to the State Board of Education, which they feared would take her attention away from the district.

And the back-and-forth between Dean and Clark was only part of the news in West Ada on Wednesday.

Barbara Leeds, the assistant superintendent, submitted her retirement effective Dec. 1, Exline said.

Vuittonet said Leeds would have been a good candidate to fill the job of interim superintendent, which the board may seek while it finds a permanent replacement for Clark.

“She’s respected across the whole district,” Vuittonet said. “She has performed so admirably.”

Leeds could not be reached for comment.

Trustees announced a meeting for 5:30 p.m. Thursday to discuss appointment of an interim superintendent and the search process for a permanent superintendent.

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