LEBANON — The Lebanon Community School District Board of Directors on Tuesday evening accepted the resignation of Superintendent Rob Hess during an emergency session.
The board met in executive session at 6 p.m. and at approximately 6:40 p.m. held a public session which lasted less than five minutes.
Board chair Tom Oliver called the meeting to order and stated there was just one order of business: consideration of an agreement outlining the terms of Hess’ resignation. Board member Michael Martin moved to accept the agreement and the motion passed 3-1 with affirmative votes by Martin, Nick Brooks and Oliver. Richard Borden voted against accepting the agreement.
After the motion carried, Oliver read a prepared statement:
“The Lebanon Community School District Board of Education and Superintendent Rob Hess have agreed that Superintendent Hess will retire from LCSD effective June 30, 2018. The Board appreciates Dr. Hess’ long service and commitment to the LCSD students, staff, and community. The Board will develop a superintendent search process to identify new leadership, and there will be multiple opportunities for public engagement during that process. Again, the Board thanks Dr. Hess for his leadership and wishes him the best in his future endeavors.”
The meeting was adjourned after the statement was read. Oliver was asked if he had any additional comments on the circumstances which led to Hess’ resignation. Oliver said the board had no further comment at this time.
According to the agreement's terms, Hess will be paid $250,000. Oliver said this represents roughly one year of total compensation for Hess, including all salary and benefits, plus Oregon Public Employees Retirement System costs.
Hess has served as superintendent since 2009. He did not attend Tuesday night’s session.
Former school board member Russ McUne attended the public session. McUne, who resigned from the school board in March, was critical of the board’s action.
“I think it’s all a sham. I think they’ve made big decisions without ever being in public until tonight,” he said. “So theoretically you have three board members making a decision to give him a letter of resignation several days ago without any kind of public meeting or public comment. So to me, that would be a violation of open meeting laws.”
McUne added that it would have been preferable for the board to not renew the superintendent’s contract, allowing Hess to serve one final year, at which time the district could have pursued a new person to fill the position.
McUne felt this would have been more cost-effective, as he believed total salary and benefits would have been closer to $190,000. He also believed that process would have been more open and transparent.
He also defended Hess’ performance as superintendent, pointing to this year's 86 percent graduation rate, which he said is the highest ever for the school district. McUne said at the time he resigned he believed the board and the superintendent had a good relationship and had he known otherwise, that would have affected his decision.
The Lebanon school board is scheduled to meet in regular session at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Santiam Travel Station.