Archive for Wednesday, September 12, 2007

District buys out assistant’s contract

September 12, 2007

The Tonganoxie School District is without its director of operations but will continue to pay on his contract, which runs through June 30, 2008.

At its regular meeting Monday, the school board unanimously approved a settlement agreement with director of operations Jamie Brun.

The agreement states that the district will pay Brun $51,000 within 30 days of when he turned in a signed copy of the pact, which was Sept. 4. In addition, Brun will be paid any fringe benefits through Sept. 30, or roughly an additional $6,000, Brun said Tuesday.

And, both Brun and the board agreed to not file lawsuits against the other based on actions that occurred before the agreement was made.

Brun was hired July 11 as the district's first director of operations, a position created as an assistant to Superintendent Richard Erickson. Brun's annual salary was about $65,000.

Last month, however, Brun and Erickson had an argument at the board office that led Brun to call 911.

In an interview Friday, Brun discussed the incident.

"There was an issue I was addressing with him," Brun said. "He did not like the advice I gave. He started yelling at me."

After asking Erickson several times to quit yelling, Brun said he went outside the board office and Erickson followed.

"I felt there was a need for the police to be called," said Brun, who

noted Erickson had raised his voice to him several times during his short tenure with the district. "I did not feel comfortable at all."

The incident, Brun said, did not become physical.

On Tuesday, Erickson discussed the 911 call.

"I just think the whole 911 issue was so blown out of proportion," Erickson said. "I'm disappointed that whole situation took place. But we're moving forward in a positive way. That's what's important is that the district is moving forward in a positive way, and I'm pleased about that."

Erickson declined to comment specifically about Brun.

"With personnel issues, I just refrain from speaking," Erickson said. "I like to respect people's confidentiality.

"I believe we're dealing with people and we need to honor their confidentiality."

Tonganoxie Police were called around 8 a.m. Aug. 16 to respond to the argument. Neither Erickson nor Brun filed a complaint.

During Friday's interview, Brun stressed he had no ill will against Erickson.

"I wish him the best of luck with the district," Brun said. "I hope the district succeeds successfully. I don't apologize for what I've done. I apologize it didn't work out."

School board president Leana Leslie commented in general terms about the agreement.

"I guess I would say I feel satisfied with it," Leslie said. "I'm not going to comment on why or where or any development of anything."

Brun, 27, earned a criminal justice degree from St. Louis University in 2003 and a law degree in 2006 from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He took his bar exam in February and was as admitted to the Kansas State Bar Association in April.

Brun said he applied for the job in Tonganoxie because he liked working with youths and said "there's a need for lawyers doing this work."

And although some school personnel, Brun said, asked him to stay, he said it wouldn't be a good situation for the district in light of what had transpired.

He praised the school board, as well as new building principals Tammie George, Jill Dickerson and Jamie Carlisle.

"The new board is excellent," Brun said. "Leana Leslie is a great woman. Kay (Smith) is great; Kathy (Baragary) is great. They have a great vision of bringing this district of where it needs to be. ... I just know with the new board and the building principals, the district will do great things."

Brun spoke about district teachers as well.

"They are great teachers here as well who really care about the students, which is an awesome thing," Brun said. "You have to be a great teacher to go though all the turmoil in this district and stay. At the same time they care about this district and the success of the children."

As for searching for a new director of operations, Leslie said the board has not yet discussed looking for a successor to Brun.

During negotiations over his separation agreement, Brun hired lawyer Arthur Benson, who also represented former Tonganoxie student Dylan Theno in a sexual harassment suit against the district. A federal judge awarded Theno $250,000 in 2005.

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