DALLAS — The Dallas School Board accepted Superintendent Michelle Johnstone’s resignation and approved a separation agreement with her Monday night.
The board called a special meeting — meaning it was not on the board regular meeting schedule — to approve a bid to begin replacing the Dallas High School track. Notice was sent out Monday afternoon that the meeting had been amended to add approving the separation agreement and appointment of an acting superintendent.
The agreement will pay Johnstone seven month’s salary in exchange for her resignation and contribute to her health insurance costs for up to 12 months. If Johnstone takes another job by Aug. 1, she would receive a third of the seven month’s salary. If she accepts a job after Sept. 15 but before Oct. 15, she would receive two-thirds severance. If she is not hired by Oct. 15, she would receive the full agreement.
The district would continue to contribute to Johnstone’s insurance for 12 months, or until she is covered by another employer.
Johnstone's monthly salary is $11,382.33, so the full payout would be $79,676. Adding in employer payroll costs that amount rises to $114,774. The district contributes $1,200 per month toward Johnstone's insurance, so the full 12 months would amount to $14,400.
“By signing this agreement, Johnstone agrees to resign from the district effective July 29, 2019,” the document read. “This resignation is irrevocable. Johnstone expressly gives up any rights to further employment she may have in her employment agreement with the district. Johnstone acknowledges that her Employment Agreement is hereby terminated by mutual consent of parties.”
The board approved the agreement 5-0. Johnstone did not attend the meeting.
Board Chairman Michael Blanchard read a statement at Monday’s meeting on behalf of the board.
“The board wishes to thank Dr. Johnstone for her tireless work on behalf of the district and the students of our community,” Blanchard said. “We wish her well as she moves on to her next professional challenge. We are certain she will excel wherever she goes.”
Director of Human Resources Dennis Engle will serve as the acting superintendent until an interim can be found.
“The board will discuss during the next several board meetings our plans to bring in an interim superintendent as soon as possible, with longer range plans to have a permanent superintendent for the 2020-21 school year,” Blanchard said. “There are many challenges that K-12 education has faced over the last several years, ranging from funding shortfalls, aging facilities and rapidly changing needs of students in our classrooms. These challenges have been acutely felt in our district and are causing increased workload and stress for all. We thank our staff and administrators for their support and collaboration during this transitional period as we move the Dallas School District forward.”
Blanchard said the district’s attorney, Paul Dakopolos, will outline the process for appointing an interim superintendent within the week.
“There’s a couple of steps that we procedurally have to do to,” Blanchard said. “Basically, we have to announce the vacancy, open it up and have a process for selection and screening. It will take at least a couple weeks and probably a couple additional board meetings.”
Johnstone took over as superintendent for Dallas in July 2015.
In May, the Dallas School Board directed Dakopolos to investigate allegations the district’s teachers and classified employees unions made against her in separate statements to the board. The results of that investigation have not been released.
Johnstone is a finalist for the principal post at an elementary school in Moses Lake School District in Moses Lake, Wash.
Moses Lake Superintendent Josh Meek confirmed on Monday that Johnstone is one of two remaining candidates for the vacant position at Garden Heights Elementary School.
The Moss Lake district announced on Thursday that Johnstone and fellow finalist Katie Phipps would attend a meet-and-greet at the school on Monday (Aug. 5).