Separation agreement reached with Superintendent Peppard

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by Marissa Lorenz

West Grand School District Board of Education members took two votes during a brief special meeting on May 4, determining the end of the District’s relationship with Superintendent Dr. Darrin Peppard as of June 30, 2021.

Peppard has been absent from District buildings following a March 30 special meeting of the Board which recorded a unanimous vote to “move Dr. Peppard to out of district suspension immediately, pay and benefits included.” The Board went into executive session at their regular April meeting to discuss personnel matters in regards to the superintendent.

At Tuesday’s special meeting, Board Members Shawn Lechman, Shorty Lemon, Mitch Lockhart, Rhonda Shearer, and Jessica Smiley all voted to accept a presented separation and settlement agreement between the District and Dr. Peppard. Newly-appointed member Stuart Heller abstained to vote in this, his first vote on the Board.

A unanimous Board then accepted Dr. Peppard’s resignation, effective June 30, 2021.

Board Chair Lechman read a prepared statement, acknowledging, “The School Board and Dr. Peppard have mutually decided to separate, based on philosophical differences.

“Dr. Peppard will stay on through June 30, 2021, continuing to work from outside the office to support the District on a variety of projects. West Grand School District wishes Dr. Peppard the best of luck in his future endeavors.

“Dr. Peppard would like to thank the staffulty, leadership team, students, community, and the Board for their support and hard work over the past four years. Dr. Peppard would like to wish the community and district nothing but the best of success in the future.”

The approved separation agreement indicates that Peppard will continue to perform tasks, as directed by the Board, and will meet with Lechman weekly “to review the scope of work, discuss the status of each task set forth therein, set expectations and timelines, and communicate any issues.”

Peppard has been especially recognized throughout his time at West Grand for his grant-writing and budgeting expertise. It is expected that he will continue to support these endeavors over the next two months.

The agreement further stipulates that the District will pay the Superintendent’s regular salary and benefits through the separation date and that it will pay him two severance payments of $56,840 each, less all authorized taxes and deductions.

The first payment is to be made as a lump sum payment on or before June 30, and the second is to be paid within seven days of that date.

Peppard’s current contract was signed in February 2019 and was approved for the three years between July 2019 and July 2022. It agreed to pay him a salary of $115,385 for the 2021-2022 school year, just $1,705 more than will be paid out via the severance payments.

Board Chair Lechman and Vice-Chair Lockhart will provide letters of reference for Peppard, under the terms of the separation agreement.

After the special meeting, Lechman and Lockhart indicated that the District would begin a search for a new superintendent immediately.
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Principal Daly’s contract renewed
by Marissa Lorenz

During a special meeting held Tuesday, May 4, the West Grand School Board voted unanimously to approve a contract renewing their employment agreement with K-8 Principal Jack Daly for the 2021-2022 school year.

Though no discussion was had prior to the vote itself, Board Chair Shawn Lechman read a letter during Public Comment in support of both Principal Daly and K-8 Assistant Principal Nathan Tedjeske.

“We all know of the personal challenges [Mr. Daly’s] had to face this year, and I doubt there’s anyone who could have done this job better, given the circumstances,” wrote second-grade teacher Hannah White. “(…) [He is the type of supportive administrator I believe all educators appreciate and often need.”

White gave kudos to Tedjeske also “for really stepping up this year, especially when he was often the only administrator for long periods of time.

“On more than one occasion, Nate has been able to respectfully help students in a timely fashion, help with setting up events, filling in where needed, doing observations–his own and others’–keeping staffulty as informed as possible, and always being willing to listen to a staffulty member when they have questions, concerns, or just need to vent,” White wrote.

“All in all, when I needed Nate this year, he was there. He was there to support me as an administrator should. I really appreciate that and so many other things.”

Neither Assistant Principal Tedjeske nor High School Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Cori Kassib was offered contract renewals for the 2021-2022 school year, given a new staffing structure that would provide for a single assistant principal serving kindergarten through 12th grade and an athletic director who would also serve as a full-time substitute teacher within the district.
Both Tedjeske and Kassib were eligible to apply for either posted position. However, they have both secured employment outside of the District for the upcoming school year.

As for Principal Daly, speaking later on the opportunity to continue as an administrator at West Grand Elementary and West Grand Middle schools, he stated,  “These past several months have been very challenging for my family, and the support that we have received from the community has been amazing.

“The Kremmling and West Grand community feels like home and is a place I am happy to be and raise my family.  I am looking forward to the upcoming year and the chance to continue to work with the wonderful children of our community.”