Oswego superintendent, Ankeny board settle contract dispute
By Jenette Sturges firstname.lastname@example.org September 11, 2012 11:44AM
Updated: October 14, 2012 1:26PM
OSWEGO — Oswego’s new School Superintendent Matthew Wendt has settled with his former school district, putting his messy separation with the Ankeny, Iowa, schools to bed.
Wendt and the Ankeny School District announced the settlement this week. Under the agreement, Wendt will be receive a severance worth six months of his salary in Ankeny, or about $88,000. Under the first and contested severance package with the district, Wendt would have received $176,000.
The Ankeny School Board has also agreed to drop its suit against Wendt, which alleged that he negotiated his separation from the district in bad faith.
On May 30, the Ankeny School Board offered Wendt a one-year extension of his contract with a 3.25 percent raise, or the option to resign with a severance of $176,513, which he had negotiated in prior weeks.
Wendt accepted the severance package, and the next day accepted the position as the new superintendent of the Oswego School District.
The suit alleged that Ankeny board members and the district’s lawyer asked Wendt whether he had other job offers, and that Wendt said only that he was “exploring options” while negotiating with Oswego.
Wendt denied the allegations, and said that he had never been asked about other offers.
In addition to the six months’ severance, both Wendt and the school district have agreed to pay their own legal fees. Both Wendt and members of the Ankeny School Board have also agreed not to disparage the other in public statements.
Each negative public comment about the other party is subject to a $14,709 penalty paid to the other.
Wendt hinted at the possibility of a settlement in his address to Oswego’s teachers prior to the start of the school year, saying he “deeply regret(s)” that his arrival in Oswego was marred by the controversy in Ankeny.
“I am pleased to have a settlement reached,” said Wendt in the joint statement released by Wendt and the Ankeny board. “I feel the final resolution represents a compromise that puts the matter in the past and is clearly in everyone’s best interest.”
Ankeny School Board President George Tracy also said the settlement was in both parties’ best interest.
“This settlement saves the district a significant amount of money and allows Ankeny School District to turn its attention to more pressing educational issues,” Tracy said.
The Ankeny district, north of Des Moines, has about 9,000 students.