After months of turmoil in the Chester County school district – including an investigation into allegations that she threatened and verbally abused her employees – Superintendent Agnes Slayman resigned late Thursday night, and the school board voted to pay her $300,000.
Following a four-hour closed-door meeting that lasted past 10 p.m., the school board voted 4-3 in open session to accept Slayman’s request to be released from the contract that pays her $150,000 a year. She will be paid for two more years on that contract.
Board members voting to accept Slayman’s resignation and pay her $300,000 were Laurens Fort, Rick Hughes, Denise Lawson and Sandra Stroman. Trustees Eugene Boyd, Patricia Hensley and Maggie James voted against the action.
Slayman left the meeting and the school administration building before the board’s vote.
Columbia attorney William Halligan, whose law firm represents the school district, said the district would issue a joint statement Friday afternoon, and no school board members would comment late Thursday.
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School board members in Chester County again had a late night Thursday, meeting behind closed doors to talk to their attorney and discuss employee complaints.
Earlier Thursday, The Herald reported that several school district employees have alleged that Superintendent Agnes Slayman has intimidated and threatened them on the job. Those allegations were presented to the board earlier this month in an investigative report written by a consultant, who interviewed district workers at the request of the board.
The newspaper obtained the report from sources with knowledge of the school district. Slayman’s attorney said she denies claims that she created a “hostile work environment” as detailed in the investigative report.
Ahead of the school board meeting, the superintendent issued a statement that said she could not comment on matters currently being discussed in private with school board members.
Slayman was present at Thursday’s meeting and attended at least part of the school board’s private executive session. The crowd at the school district office meeting space was much smaller than the crowd during Monday’s school board meeting.
Earlier this week, 100 people packed the meeting room. Thursday night, three concerned parents attended. No public hearing was scheduled for Thursday’s meeting.
Though fewer in number, the concerns of parents present still seemed strong on Thursday. Chester Fire Chief Paul Caldwell, a parent of three Chester High School students, said he’s heard some rumors and some first-hand information about district issues that prompted his attendance at the meeting.
Decisions over school security, he said, are among of his concerns.
Caldwell said he’d like to see the Chester school board be more open about what issues they’ve discussed behind closed doors for more than 10 hours total this month. He said he understands some personnel discussions must be confidential.
Parents are concerned, he said, about possible issues with Slayman because all educational decisions “begin and end with the school district staff.”
Caldwell said he would like for the board members’ contact information to be available on the district’s website for parents to be able to voice concerns and ask questions. When he called the district office recently to get phone numbers for trustees, Caldwell said, he was directed to the superintendent’s office but could not reach any one.
The school board spent at least three hours talking behind closed doors Thursday night. Their meeting began at 6 p.m. Shortly after, trustees voted unanimously to move into executive session to talk with attorneys, and to discuss an “employee grievance” and “a contractual matter.”
Board members also said they would discuss a student appeal in executive session.
Beyond acknowledging earlier this month they were talking about Slayman’s employment during a private school board meeting, trustees have not offered details about the superintendent’s recent extended “personal leave,” or commented publicly on the employee or employees’ complaints.
For the latest news from Thursday night’s Chester County school board meeting, go to heraldonline.com.