$100,000 severance deal with Rockland-area school superintendent released

RSU 13 Superintendent Lew Collins and Board Chairwoman Esther &quotTess" Kilgour speak before the start of a December 2013 board meeting.
RSU 13 Superintendent Lew Collins and Board Chairwoman Esther "Tess" Kilgour speak before the start of a December 2013 board meeting. Buy Photo
Posted Jan. 08, 2014, at 8:21 a.m.
Last modified Jan. 08, 2014, at 5:05 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — A severance agreement reached last month between the Regional School Unit 13 board and Superintendent Lew Collins that was released Wednesday morning provides details about the slightly more than $100,000 deal and shows that the superintendent waives any legal claims against the board or its members.

The superintendent emailed the agreement Wednesday morning to the BDN, which submitted a Freedom of Access request on Monday.

The agreement is dated Dec. 30 and is signed by Collins and Board Chairwoman Esther “Tess” Kilgour.

The deal provides Collins with his current pay through Dec. 31, 2014, even though his resignation is effective on Feb. 15. The package also includes full health, dental and disability insurances through the end of this year.

The board did not take a public vote on the agreement. The BDN sent an email to all 12 RSU 13 board members Wednesday morning asking why a public vote was not taken and whether this meets state law.

Board Vice Chairman Loren Andrews, the only member to respond by late afternoon, indicated by email that he has been told there will be no vote on the severance package but there will be a vote at the Thursday RSU 13 Board meeting to accept the superintendent’s resignation.

The agreement states that Collins waives any and all claims under the federal age discrimination and employment act and all other state and federal laws including the Maine Human Rights Act.

The agreement was worked out by the board’s attorney and an attorney that Collins hired. The agreement states that Collins waives any right to be reimbursed for his legal fees.

The board will provide Collins a letter of reference and will not contest his filing for unemployment compensation if he is unemployed after Dec. 31.

The board and Collins admit no liability under the agreement.

Collins announced his resignation on Dec. 31 after a stormy three months in which both the teachers association and administrators criticized his management. He said he resigned because the board was fractured and he did not have its full support.

In November, the teachers association said it had no confidence in the superintendent and a change was needed. The superintendent has countered that the criticism results from his efforts to hold teachers and administrators accountable.

In addition, the superintendent placed Business Manager Scott Vaitones on paid leave on Nov. 14. Vaitones has said that the action was in retaliation for him pointing out to the board that the superintendent had hired special education staff that was not budgeted. The district’s auditor told the board in November that there were no overruns in special education but that the school lunch program was running a significant deficit.

A disciplinary hearing before the school board — to act on the superintendent’s recommendation that Vaitones be fired — is scheduled for Jan. 21 and 22. Vaitones said he will fight the attempt to fire him.

Collins was hired unanimously by the board in July 2012.

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