Archive for Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Tonganoxie school board member addresses events surrounding superintendent; attorney who filed charges is former USD 464 administrator

Tonganoxie USD 464 central office.

Tonganoxie USD 464 central office.

March 1, 2017

As Tonganoxie’s top administrator awaits his time in court for allegedly failing to report abuse at his previous school, a Tonganoxie School Board member explains the district’s timeline with hiring the administrator.

The Leavenworth County Sheriff’s Office arrested Kleidosty on Tuesday on a warrant out of Linn County where he previously was superintendent at Prairie View USD 362.

The warrant was for charges of allegedly failing to report abuse. Current PVHS principal Tim Weis also was arrested for the same charge.

The Tonganoxie School Board hired the search firm of McPherson and Jacobson last March to assist in finding candidates for a new superintendent.

Kleidosty was interviewed as a finalist and then offered the position on May 19, according to Dan Hopkins, Tonganoxie School Board vice president. The board voted May 23 at its board meeting to hire Kleidosty.

Prairie View High School English teacher Keaton M. Krell also was arrested May 19, the last day of school, for alleged sexual acts with a student. according to the Miami County Republic.

Several days before the arrest, the Prairie View School Board acted on Krell’s resignation for the next school year at its May 9 board meeting. Kleidosty told the Miami County Republic that the resignation was “a completely unrelated event.”

Kleidosty also told the Miami County Republic that when the district learned of the allegations against Krell, the district worked with the sheriff’s office to have Krell removed and arrested.

Hopkins said he first learned of the arrest May 23 when Kansas City television stations reported on the situation.

Kleidosty had been cooperating with the Linn County Sheriff’s Office to investigate the matter and had informed the USD 464 board of the development, Hopkins said. At the time, Kleidosty was not under investigation and was that district’s superintendent overseeing Prairie View’s cooperation with law enforcement.

“To our knowledge, at no time was Mr. Kleidosty implicated in wrongdoing,” Hopkins said in an email to The Mirror.

New attorney, familiar face for Tonganoxie

More than two months after Krell was arrested, Overland Park attorney James Brun won a primary election against Republican incumbent John Sutherland for the Linn County Attorney’s race with about 65 percent of the vote (1,093-600).

Brun then easily won the general election with 3,936 votes against several write-in candidates, including Sutherland, who had the second-most votes with 53.

Brun took office in January. About 10 years ago, Brun worked in the Tonganoxie School District as director of operations. The district hired Brun in July 2007 at a salary of roughly $65,000.

The next month, Brun called 911 during an argument with then-Superintendent Richard Erickson.

At the time, Brun said the exchange did not become physical, but he did not feel comfortable with the situation and made the call.

About a month later, Brun and the school district reached a settlement agreement for roughly $57,000 and he no longer was employed with the district.

Asked about the case against Kleidosty and Weis, Brun said he couldn’t comment on them.

Background checks

Reaction on social media has included posts critical of the district hiring Kleidosty when a simple Google search or background check should have uncovered the situation last year with the teacher.

Hopkins said that McPherson and Jacobson checked Kleidosty’s background and that Tonganoxie USD 464 also conducts a background check of every employee in the district upon hiring. The state also conducts background checks and verifies the data submitted when administrators are licensed., Hopkins noted.

“The Board of Education was surprised by Mr. Kleidosty’s arrest,” Hopkins said in an email. “We were aware of the arrest of the teacher at Prairie View School District and had no way of knowing what was happening in Linn County. as investigations tend to be confidential.

“The Board of Education released an immediate statement to the press, to our webpage, through our parent notification systems and social media to inform the public. We have not withheld any information that we can comment upon.

“We took immediate action to protect our students and our district.”

Hopkins noted that the board must also protect the rights of the superintendent, as “in our land a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

He said the district has received complaints that Kleidosty should have been suspended without pay.

“If we had done that we would be vulnerable to a civil suit and we would be violating our employment contract,” Hopkins said. “We took the only measure available and we did so very quickly and legally to protect the district.”

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