Had embattled Chester County schools Superintendent Agnes Slayman not resigned last week – negotiating a deal to leave and be paid $300,000 – district trustees could have fired her and paid half of that, but would have needed a “super majority” board vote, a requirement added to Slayman’s employment contract last year.
On Thursday four Chester County school board members voted to accept Slayman’s request to be released and collect two years pay, with benefits continuing for three months.
To avoid that payout, the board could have fired Slayman, but it would have needed “cause” or justification. A “super majority” of five members could have “unilaterally” terminated her contract, and the district still would be required to pay Slayman more than $150,000 – one year’s salary.
Contractual reasons for firing with “cause” include: Unprofessional conduct Insubordination Neglect of duty Incompetency
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The “super majority” requirement for a unilateral dismissal –a decision to end Slayman’s contract without her consent – was added to her employment contract in February 2014, according to public records. The ex-superintendent’s original contact, signed in December 2011, allowed a dismissal by a majority vote of four school board members, with as little as six months pay offered.
On Friday – the day after Slayman’s resignation – district officials provided The Herald and other news outlets copies of Slayman’s original contract and contract changes since October 2012.
Slayman received two pay raises since she started working for the Chester County school district in January 2012. She left the district last week earning $152,189 – up from a starting salary of $140,000.
Last fall, the board changedthe contract, giving Slayman:
▪ A 5 percent pay raise
▪ A higher contribution to her retirement fund (7 percent of her salary)
▪ The promise of one year’s pay if a “super majority” of the board voted to fire her
Spiteful, vengeful, mean, cruel, vicious ... insensitive, paranoid, moody, divisive, and hostile.
Allegations employees made against the superintendent
Slayman was serving under a five-year contract. She had a three-year contract but the board extended it.
Other updates to Slayman’s contract, included increasing her annual vacation time to 15 days; increasing her accrued leave time up to 45 days; and, increasing the monthly reimbursement for the superintendent’s local travel to $800.
It’s unclear whether Chester County school trustees considered firing Slayman “for cause.” That option, according to her contract, would require the board find the superintendent had “unprofessional conduct,” had neglected her “duty,” had been insubordinate, or had showed “incompetency.”
Prior to accepting her resignation, Chester trustees never publicly discussed options they considered regarding Slayman’s employment. This month, the board spent nearly a dozen hours behind closed doors discussing, among other things, Slayman’s employment and employee complaints.
A third-party’s investigative report – prepared for the school board this month and obtained by The Herald last week – shows Chester County school district staffers made serious allegations against Slayman, including claims she threatened them physically and created “a hostile work environment.” Some of Slayman’s staffers have threatened legal action, the report states.
The report was commissioned in late August by the school board. Slayman was placed on leave for the consultant to investigate alleged issues.
School district officials still have not stated the purpose of Slayman’s extended leave. Officials said the superintendent’s absence was “personal leave,” but Slayman’s attorney said last week her absence was taken at the request of the school board chair – and perhaps the entire board.
District officials have not disclosed whether Slayman was paid during her weeks of leave. Her contract calls for administrative leave to be paid and for benefits to continue. The contract also requires the superintendent remain on administrative leave until the board allows her to return.
If Slayman’s absence from work was “administrative leave,” it’s unclear how, or when, the board decided to bring her back to work. No public vote or discussion was held before her return on Sept. 16.
Board Chairwoman Denise Lawson has previously declined to offer specifics about Slayman’s “personal leave,” but she said earlier this month the superintendent had accrued time off just like any other district employee.
Had the trustees decided to dismiss the superintendent without her consent, they would have had to give her written notice and an opportunity to be heard in executive session, according to her contract. Firing a person “for cause” typically comes with no pay and no further benefits.
School board members have said this month they held several executive sessions to discuss an employee or employees’ “grievance,” but – even after details of the recent investigative report came to light last week – the board has not said whether their private talks about employee complaints were related to Slayman.
Her attorney has questioned the allegations made against Slayman in the investigative report. He says the former superintendent never made serious threats to harm anyone. He said he cannot comment in detail about the investigative report or Slayman’s resignation.