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Board members offer justification for Crane payout

December 21, 2012

In front of a packed house, and under intense pressure from an angry public (some even asking for the board's resignation), Blackfoot school board members offered some, but not all, of the details as to why they chose to pay former superintendent Scott Crane $220,000 in a separation agreement and hiding it from the public.
All five board members still hold firm to the belief that "it was the right thing to do at the time" and "they did not realize they were breaking any laws." In a surprising twist, the board voted to obtain new legal counsel in the new year, replacing Dale Storer, the attorney who admittedly drew up the agreement between the district and Crane, saying "it was legal and it was what both parties wanted at the time."
"We know what was done, now tell us why," said local attorney Jared Harris, who represented Joyce Bingham throughout the Bingham vs. Blackfoot School District lawsuit. "I'm offended by what you did. Tell us please. Why? Why?"
[Dale] Storer, who was present at the meeting, urged the board to "explain themselves to their constituents," even though "difficult and thorny issues still remain."
"Now is your opportunity to come clean," said patron Richard Johnson.
After some tense moments facing the public, the board contemplated going into executive session when trustee Taylor Johansen evoked a round of applause by adamantly declaring, "Absolutely not! Let's get this aired, open and out in the public. Let's run this through so the people understand."
After a brief intermission, the board returned with a partial admission justifying their decision to pay off Crane and hiding it in a personnel file.
Board chairman Scott Reese said Crane approached the board after the board voted 3-2 'not' to renew his contract saying he wanted out and wanted to pursue a buyout of the two years left on his contract and look for another job.
Reese said, that while all the details can not be revealed, the board's decision to buy Crane ultimately saved the district about $300,000 'above and beyond' what his payout was.
"At the time it felt good," Reese said. "I felt at the time and still feel today that our decision saved the district a lot of money. We were under contract not to release the information or to speak to the press about it until we had to release it."
Trustee Jenny Hong expressed her relief that the information has finally been revealed to the public. "I feel strongly that we made the right decision as a board. This has been difficult for my entire family..I appreciate that it's finally out."
Mary Jo Marlow added, "This has been very difficult. I am glad to see the people here. I wish you would've been here months ago so that you could see that our board was at a point of 'dysfunction...' before we came to our critical decision."
Two of Crane's attorneys, Justin Oleson and Bryce Lloyd, were present at the meeting but did not make any statements on Crane's behalf. The board is likely facing more litigation now that the separation agreement has been deemed 'null and void" since Idaho Open Meeting Laws were broken when the decisions regarding Crane's agreement were made.


Dec 20 Blackfoot School Board meeting

December 21, 2012 by susa, 2 years 21 weeks ago
Comment: 2998

Not quite sure what was accomplished at the meeting last night. It was clear that this started with not renewing Cranes Contract about a year ago. The vote to not renew his contract was 3 to 2. Chairman Reese made and attempt (very poor if I may say) to justify why he did not vote to renew his contract but the other 2 board members did not justify their actions at all, my guess is was a personal reason that they do not want to make public, probably they didn’t get their way with him in the past. It appears that there is some politics going on with the three board members that were against Crane.
Needless to say there were bigger issues that will probably not come up. If the decision to buy out Crane was the least expensive option, then this implies to me that something else was going on. Was Crane wronged by the board in some way? What did he have against them? If a Crane wanted to just quit, the board should have just let him and cancelled his contract with no payout. When payouts are made, it is usually done when the board wants to terminate a contract by fulfilling the fiscal obligations of the contract. Maybe this will come out later.
The other thing that is confusing to me is the board members said that the agreement “felt good“ at the time and it was mentioned by some that it was still probably right now and was “what was best for the students”. If this was the case why didn’t they go ahead and ratify the separation agreement with Crane at the meeting last night? The separation agreement was made by the board that was fully authorized to make the agreement. The only issue is that the agreement was made in an illegal meeting and that is why it was declared null and void. I am no expert in law but it appears to me that in a court of law Crane would have the upper hand. I bet we will see legal action from Crane in a very short time.

Much much more!

January 28, 2013 by CountryPumpkin, 2 years 16 weeks ago
Comment: 3595

Has anyone considered the idea that maybe crane is the crook here? If he loved this district so much then why did he take so much money from it? This is money that could have bought our students text books!! He had dirt on many people in this district and knew how to use it.
This board that everyone is so angry at is in a tough position. They are trying to clean up a big mess that crane himself made BEFORE they were ever on the board! I shouldn't say that, crane and several former (and one current) board member made. He wrote that buyout into his own contract because he knew his ass was on the line when they got a new school board. One that wouldn't allow him to run things on his own agenda, one that wouldn't allow him to bully anymore district employees, one that would finally make him accountable for his actions! He knew he was history so he padded his pockets one last time. For someone in charge of a school district that had a zero tolerance bullying policy he was the biggest bully of all!
This board called him on his crap and he got out using the contract he had written and his buddies on the former school board signed!
Stop blaming Mr. Reese and this school board, they are doing the best they can with a crappy situation that crane put them in and then bailed. I feel bad for the Utah school district that man is in charge of now!

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