UPDATE: Brookings superintendent, district reach settlement
BROOKINGS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The Brookings School District superintendent who resigned last week will be paid $189,000 for the remaining year in his contract.
The amount is part of a settlement with the Brookings School District. The agreement listed more than 20 reasons for Klint Willert to resign or be terminated. A key statement said, “The Board has lost faith in your ability to lead the district.”
Reasons included not following through on several committees he said would be established and lack of communication and leadership on a number of topics.
Willert will make no claims against the district.
Brookings School District Superintendent Klint Willert is stepping down June 2 this year, submitting his resignation to the Brookings School Board in a special meeting Wednesday night.
Willert had been in his position for eight years at Brookings. The school board accepted his resignation unanimously after going into executive session. During the public comment session of the meeting, Willert said he was proud of everything that the district has done in his time at Brookings.
“While this resignation is unconventional, it is what is deemed concurrent with the current school board members’ goals for the district,” Willert said. “That significant importance of the education of our learners is why I’ve committed myself, my family and my life to the endeavors to the Brookings School District. This job and the work I have done is more than a passion to me.”
The abrupt resignation raised concerns from community members as to why Willert is resigning now.
“I mean, all of us property taxpayers are interested in what’s going on here. We need to know. I guess I have a real hard time thinking that you want to walk away from all of that,” said district resident Jason Bowes.
The resignation comes as the Brookings School District is on temporary probation from the Department of Education over accreditation noncompliance. During its review of the district, conducted every five years, the department found issues with the district that weren’t compliant with accreditation. Willert published a letter to the public outlining the four outstanding issues that the Department of Education found and the district’s plan to address them.
Both School Board President Keli Books and Willert stressed that the infractions were minor, including that one of the issues had already been addressed. Brookings isn’t the only school district on probation for accreditation compliance, joining Wall and Flandreau Indian, according to the Department of Education’s website. Both are confident that the remaining issues will be addressed at the next school board meeting on Monday, before the March 31 deadline.
“This is really just some things that needed to be uploaded to the state website that weren’t done in a timely manner in the exact way,” Books said.
“We’ve had conversations with [Secretary of Education Joseph Graves] and his staff assuring us that we are on the right path to have a plan of action, as well as addressing the concerns shared no later than March 31,” Willert said.
During that same school board meeting, the Brookings School Board also approved a motion to have Dakota Education Consulting lead the district’s search for its next superintendent. The company’s head Tom Oster called into the meeting, outlining what the firm would recommend to the school board and how it would conduct its search for candidates. As of Thursday, that job posting was on Dakota Education Consulting’s website, and Oster said it will be listed on other educator groups’ websites as well. Oster said should everything work to plan, they will try and have candidate interviews with the school board by late April.
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