District 55 trustees reaffirm Crane's payout
Patrons were not happy at Blackfoot School District's, standing room only board meeting Thursday night when, in another strange twist of events, former superintendent Scott Crane's quarter million dollar separation agreement with the district was "reaffirmed and ratified." Board members voted 4-1 that the the terms of the agreement will continue to be honored.
Attorney Amy White from the Idaho School Board Association, who was on speaker phone throughout the meeting, advised the board that even though open meeting laws were broken, the contract is still enforceable. She said that is because the 'allegation of the violation' was 'not challenged or declared null and void' within 30 days of the action taken in accordance with Idaho Code 672347 (Section 6).
While the board members declared their actions regarding the separation agreement 'null and void' in the Dec. 20 meeting, White advised them to clarify their motion by declaring the actual contract with Crane either 'valid' or 'void.' If the board voted to void the contract, White warned that they [School District 55] would likely be sued, costing the district hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.
Trustee Taylor Johansen, the only board member who voted against reaffirming the agreement, was clearly uncomfortable with the decision, saying, "This brings us full circle. I want the people to know what occurred. The public needs to know why we as a board made this decision." This statement by Johansen brought a round of applause from the intent crowd.
Johansen went on to ask Crane's attorneys, Bryce Lloyd and Justin Oleson, who were present at the meeting, if they could speak on Crane's behalf or if Crane himself could come forward and speak. Oleson, White and chairman Scott Reese promptly halted this discussion, concurring that it is a "personnel issue" because it deals with an employee's performance.
Attorneys say that Crane could speak on his own behalf if he chose to; however, it is unlikely that he will.
"Dr. Crane needs to come forward and get this information to us. If he won't go there, then it's going to be a long road to hoe," Johansen retorted.
Trustee Mary Jo Marlow said, "I still believe what we did was right. I still support the agreement. This is the right thing to do."
The board contends that buying Crane out, with two years left on his contract, ultimately saved the district approximately $300,000 in legal fees above and beyond the payoff. In the terms of Crane's agreement, another payment of $105,428 is due to be paid to him in July.