School Board Justifies Decision To Dismiss Superintendent

June 26, 2014
By
School board members voted 3-0 Tuesday evening terminating the contract of Dr. Leanna Phillippe

School board members voted 3-0 Tuesday evening terminating the contract of Dr. Leanna Phillippe

The Jac-Cen-Del School Board has released new information as to why they parted ways with Superintendent Dr. Leanna Phillippe this week.

According to the Findings of Fact, Conclusions and Decision, the school board cited incompetence, insubordination and just cause existed to support the termination of the contract.

Phillippe has served as superintendent of Jac-Cen-Del Communnity School Corporation since February 2012. Board members released nine separate alleged incidents that led to her dismissal.

1)  Roof Issue

Dr. Phillippe asked the board to approve roof repairs to Jac-Cen-Del Junior/Senior High School in February 2013. Board members inquired if there was warranty on the roof in three separate instances which the superintendent allegedly said there was not.

Further investigation by the board revealed the roof was under warranty through 2016. Roof repairs were complete for a total cost of $16,000.

“Had the School Board proceeded with work as described in the specifications recommended by Ms. Phillippe at the February 18,2013 School Board Meeting, the price as recommended by Moisture Management would have been $296,400.00.”

2) Teacher Salary

The school corporation has a contract which governs the compensations of a first year teacher. In one instance, a first year instructor was given a salary exceeding the contract allowance. Dr. Phillippe had to later reduce the salary, which the school board claimed constituted insubordination and incompetence.

3) Comp Time

The superintendent allegedly made changes in the policy manual of the School Board regarding comp time by Ms. Phillippe without asking for board approval. The board said the action constitutes as just cause for termination.

4) Waiver Days

The board claims Dr. Phillippe reported to a newspaper in February 2013 that the teachers had agreed to work two waiver days to develop their digital plan for the 2014-2015 school year. The newspaper reported the information. A representative from the Teachers’ Association contested an agreement had been reached, and the newspaper printed a clarification in a later issue along with supporting print that an agreement on waiver days was not reached.

“This conduct was deceptive on the part of Ms. Phillippe and constitutes other good and just cause for termination,” the board report states.

5) 360 Minutes

Dr. Phillippe gave a report during an April 2013 school board meeting on the required 360 minutes of instructional time. She allegedly reported that the requirement was new legislation.

The report indicates Board Member Phil Mohr asked if it was indeed new legislation because approximately three weeks prior the superintendent told Mr. Mohr it was part of existing legislation, however the previous administration had not implemented the rule.

After the meeting Dr. Phillippe is suspected of telling Mr. Mohr, “I cannot believe I just lied in a public meeting.”

In a May 2013 school board meeting the superintendent later corrected the her previous statement saying the 360 minutes per high school students has been in place since 2005.

6) Exit Interviews

In June 2013, the board requested the superintendent to send out exit interviews to teachers that retired at the end of the year and share the results. Dr. Phillippe failed to comply, the board said.

The report goes on to say the same request was made in January 2014 and Phillippe did not conduct the exit interviews, though she was provided a copy of suggested questions.

7) Camera/ Buzz-In System

In early 2013 Dr. Phillippe told school board members that the administration received a final quote for a security system to provide a safer learning environment for students.

“She stated the quote was expected within the next few days and the work to be completed by the end of the month,” the report indicated.

Board members asked for further research and additional bids before approving the security system. While additional information was not received a board member later learned that a camera and buzz-in system had been installed in the elementary school.

The board member inquired why the security system was installed without board approval, which the superintendent allegedly said she did not need Board authority to do so. The system was not fully operational until August 2013 when the school year began.

8) Improvement Plans

Two staff members at Jac-Cen-Del did not meet expectations and should have been provided improvement plans. The board claims Dr. Phillippe did not provide an improvement plan although she acknowledged a plan should have been put in place for faculty not meeting expectations.

9) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Some school districts across the country have pulled “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” from student reading lists due to possible offensive material.

Jac-Cen-Del seventh graders were assigned the book for classwork. A parent asked Dr. Leanna Phillippe to give her evaluation, which she allegedly claimed “The book really has a beautiful story and is not any worse than a bus ride home or prime time TV.”

Board members cited her evaluation of the material as not in line with community standards of the school corporation.

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