Friday, February 21, 2020

OH: Whose Gold Makes That Parachute?

It turns out there's one more problem with the kind of autocratic corporate-style takeover that Ohio implemented under HB 70.

You may recall that Lorain, Ohio, is one of three districts to be placed under the control of an all-powerful CEO. It was not pretty. An Ohio-style school CEO has all the powers of a school board and a superintendent, less the ability to levy taxes but plus the power to arbitrarily rewrite contracts. The job requires such a super-human level of expertise that it's unlikely that anyone could really do it well-- but Lorain was saddled with David Hardy, Jr., a guy who was especially not-superhuman. Hardy was relieved of his duties last November, effective the beginning of January.

David Hardy was yet another example of someone who built a career as an education expert based on his two year stint as a Teach for America guy. And he used his position of power in Lorain to bring along a bunch of his old TFA friends, including Arliss Prass, who he apparently knew from way back when they TFAed together, and Jacqueline Younker, a TFA alum who was brought in to handle HR as "Chief People Officer."

Some eyebrows went up when Younker got a hefty raise, but apparently there were other surprises in the administrators' contracts.

Both women had clauses in their contracts that automatically terminated their employment if the CEO was replaced. The new CEO didn't discover this until late in January. And the contracts also included some shiny gold parachute language, a promise of severance pay of basically $493 a day for 120 days. Almost $60K, plus health insurance.

The current CEO and his legal team think that handing over taxpayer money for people to not work is not okay. Prass disagrees, and she has filed a complaint with the state supreme court-- it's lawsuit time. It will be interesting to see how this shakes out. Can an all-powerful CEO commit taxpayers to pay for golden parachutes for his staff, or can an all-powerful CEO erase contractual obligations entered into by the previous all-powerful CEO?

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