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Resignation agreement shows Carpenter, LSR7 Board working towards exit since June 25

Posted at 10:43 PM, Jul 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-27 00:02:02-04

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. — Two days after Lee's Summit superintendent Dr. Dennis Carpenter announced his resignation, details of the agreement with the Lee's Summit R-7 School District were made public.

According to the separation agreement, the district and Carpenter began working on the terms of his exit June 25. The parties finalized and signed the document July 26.

"If any outside party inquire ... about the termination of (Carpenter's) employment with the District, the District and (Carpenter) will respond simply that (Carpenter) voluntarily resigned from his employment with the District and that any differences between the Parties have been resolved," the document said, in part.

Under the agreement, Carpenter will receive a $750,000 buyout, which will be reduced by his July salary payment.

The district will divide the payout into three payments.

The first payment of $23,159.42 and a "non-contractual release payment" of $240,000 are due within 15 days of Carpenter's termination date. A final payment of $255,000 is due by Jan. 15, 2020.

The district's insurance will cover $75,000.

Carpenter and the LSR7 School Board first entered into mediation after clashing over a plan to bring equity and diversity training to teachers and district staff.

According to the resignation agreement, the two parties initially agreed to split the mediation fees, but the school district now will pay all of mediator Siro Smith Dickson's fees.

Carpenter and his attorneys are prohibited from making any "negative, misleading, or disparaging comments" about the district or members of the school board. No board member or attorney for the board can make any "negative, misleading, or disparaging comments" about Carpenter.

"The Parties shall forever hold confidential any information or material relating to or concerning the negotiations leading to this Agreement," the separation agreement said, in part.

Carpenter was named superintendent of the district in January 2017. He previously served as superintendent of the Hickman Mills School District.

Two board members, Jacqueline Clark and Ryan Murdock, issued a lengthy statement explaining the decision to vote against the separation agreement:

In the spirit of transparency and openness as elected officials, we want to offer the rationale for our votes. I join my colleague, Ryan Murdock, in opposition to the publicly announced superintendent separation agreement because it was completely avoidable.

Cost to the District
The result of this agreement for LSR7 students and teachers is that they are losing $750,000 that could be used in our classrooms. We note that our district has agreed to pay out $1.2 million since 2016, which is about $37,500 per building. The decision is a result of leaders who were unwilling to even try to work or communicate with the superintendent and have not met with him since Jan. 10 in closed session on his goals. This decision also ignores a successful Comprehensive Facilities Master Planning process and its Phase II (now underway), improved student test scores, the Innovation Track’s creation and unprecedented community engagement during his two-year tenure.

Board Superintendent Relationship
Our board of education failed to establish an appropriate superintendent-board relationship. The board worked with the Missouri School Board Association in June to establish board priorities and measurements for Dr. Carpenter’s 2019 performance review, but no attempt was even made to work with him towards these goals. Despite success in his measurable work, the board frequently challenged his professional judgement in ways MSBA had coached us to avoid according to best practices in the superintendent-board relationship.

Moving Forward
Ryan and I are committed to work on behalf of all LSR7 students as we begin a national superintendent search because we want to avoid LSR7 becoming the next high churn district for superintendents in the metro area. We both support a transparent selection process that will engage finalists with the community before the board makes its selection, and we support keeping the community updated throughout the process. An ideal candidate that we can support to lead LSR7 will be an innovative, strategic thinking superintendent with strong leadership and communication skills.

We thank Dr. Carpenter for his service to our district and will do our best in continuing to work with fellow board members toward an equitable education for all students in the district. While we disagree, we accept the decision of the majority of the board.

Ryan and I also are committed to leading healing for LSR7 kids and teachers. And as always we will continue to communicate with the community. We welcome others who are committed to do the same.

Jacqueline Clark & Ryan Murdock
LSR7 School Board Members Jacqueline Clark and Ryan Murdock