Explanations are scarce as to why the Reynoldsburg Board of Education signed an agreement with outgoing Superintendent Tina Thomas-Manning that will keep her on the district payroll for a year as a consultant.
Exactly why she received such a deal when she was on her way out might never be known because the signed agreement includes a provision that all parties – Thomas-Manning and board members – are forbidden to talk about the document or “disparage or defame each other” for the next three years.
What is clear is that Thomas-Manning agreed not to sue, although nothing has been revealed that would indicate why she would have grounds to do so.
It’s also clear that the agreement, approved on a 3-2 vote after board members emerged from a closed-door meeting June 14, will cost the Reynoldsburg school district – and thus taxpayers – at least $100,000 over the next year.
That’s the amount Thomas-Manning will receive in a lump sum payment. In addition, she will receive a full benefits package, along with 20 days of vacation, health and life insurance and her total share of her contribution to the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio fund.
District Treasurer Tammira Miller was out of the office for several days, and no one else in the district has been able to provide a value for the benefits packagee.
The agreement states school board members must rescind their September 2016 vote to not renew Thomas-Manning’s contract and allow her to officially resign as superintendent by July 31 to take on the consultant post.
Under the terms of the agreement, Thomas-Manning has been working from home since June 12. She will finish out her contract as superintendent but no longer reports to the district office. She will be available by phone and email.
Starting Aug. 1, she will work from home as a consultant, using a district-owned laptop, monitor and an iPad.
Thomas-Manning agrees to do her best to find other employment, using a letter of reference written by board President Joe Begeny, but if she can’t find a position by Aug. 1, 2018, she may apply for a year of unpaid leave of absence. After another year, if she’s still searching for work, Thomas-Manning could request to return to the district as a teacher.
If she is not selected for a vacant teaching position, “she will be assigned to a teaching position by the board’s superintendent,” according to the agreement.
She also agrees not to seek election to the school board or any position of authority with the Reynoldsburg teachers union.
No public discussion occurred after the executive session June 14. Begeny and board member Elaine Tornero cast the only votes against the agreement.
A statement released by the district June 19 indicated the deal was made to “avoid the time, expense and distraction of protracted disputes and litigation.” It states the agreement is in the best interest of stakeholders and would allow “both Ms. Thomas-Manning and the Reynoldsburg schools to move forward.”
After the June 14 vote, Tornero asked to read a letter from Thomas-Manning.
Sue Yount, with the district's law firm of Bricker & Eckler, asked, “You do know the agreement is now in place?”
Tornero answered, “Yes, but it is pertinent.”
The letter stated Thomas-Manning would donate $50,000 to Reynoldsburg City Schools from the Tina Thomas-Manning Educational Foundation.
The superintendent wrote in the letter about her service to the district after being hired as assistant principal at Reynoldsburg High School in 1999, her promotion in 2006 to principal at Hannah Ashton Middle School and then her jump to the superintendent position Aug. 1, 2014.
It does not mention the contentious 15-day teachers strike that began a month after she became superintendent or an unfair-labor-practices complaint the Reynoldsburg Education Association had filed in 2016 that later was dismissed by the State Employment Relations Board.
Thomas-Manning said in the letter that the $50,000 would be used to “support and enhance the learning experiences” of Reynoldsburg students and that criteria for the awards, amounts and who was selected to win the awards would be “strictly determined by my family and me.”
She ended the letter with “I wish Reynoldsburg Schools and its children all my best. I am grateful and humble to have served them.”
According to board policy, any donation still would have to be approved by a majority vote of the school board.