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District 308 Superintendent Sued by Former School Board

The lawsuit was filed in Iowa today and accuses new District 308 Superintendent Matthew Wendt of fraud, according to the Des Moines Register.

The Ankeny, Iowa school board filed a lawsuit against their former district superintendent (and current District 308 superintendent) Matthew Wendt in Polk County District Court today, accusing him of fraud and saying he deliberately misled the district.

According to this article written by Sara Sleyster of the Des Moines Register, the lawsuit is requesting the court to make null and void a contract providing Wendt with a $176,000 transition allowance if he left the district.

In May, . Prior to the vote, the board offered Wendt a three-year contract including a 3.25 percent salary should he stay with the district.

During the special meeting, the board amended Wendt's current contract. A $176,000 transition allowance, equal to one year's pay without benefits, replaced a four-year payout with two years of benefits if Wendt elected to resign within a month.

Wendt chose to resign and take the transition allowance.

One day later, . The District 308 school board offered him a three-year contract with a $225,000 annual salary.

According to the Register's article, the district states in the lawsuit that “Dr. Wendt owed a duty to the school district to disclose to the school district, before it approved the amendment, the fact that he had the Oswego job.”

The district notes in the lawsuit further proof of fraud, the article said, because in a meeting with board president George Tracy, vice president Pat Cahill and then associate superintendent Bruce Kimpston the day following his resignation, Wendt did not mention his plan to drive “300 miles to Oswego, Illinois to sign his contract to become the new superintendent of (the) Oswego district.”

In a press release on Wednesday, Wendt announced that he had hired a lawyer, Thomas Foley, of the firm of Babich Goldman, P.C. of Des Moines, Iowa. He said he "emphatically denies" the allegations in the lawsuit, and said he answered all questions asked of him prior to the approval of his amended contract.

He pointed to quotes from Tracy, who said when the contract was approved, "In our opinion, the transition allowance has been well-earned over the past five years, and will allow Dr. Wendt the opportunity to pursue his other opportunities." He noted that Tracy told KCCI in Iowa that he knew Wendt was looking for a job, despite earlier stating that Wendt told the board he was not interviewing.

To read Wendt's written response to the Ankeny School Board's lawsuit, go .

Julie DiCaro July 19, 2012 at 08:47 PM
This is exactly what bothers me so much about it, WATCHMAN. Thanks for saying this better than I could.
WATCHMAN July 19, 2012 at 08:53 PM
Thanks Julie... Did you know that due to confidentiality... People in education are asked resigned on a regular basis and bad references are unhearned of due to possible legal retaliation? I know of a few administrators that have gotten the "boot/buyout" but are know at the helm of other districts!
WATCHMAN July 19, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Oops darn I phone isn't isnt in editing state or am I an English teacher looking for work?
Martin July 19, 2012 at 08:57 PM
How is that Confidentiality any different than a non-educator job? HR cannot ask a previous employer anything more than dates of employment. That's what References are for...and what interviewee will submit names that will give anything but glowing comments.
Just a Renter July 19, 2012 at 09:09 PM
The man in front of you in the store line drops twenty bucks and no one but you sees. Do you pick up the 20 and give it back to him or keep it? Morals? Honesty? Character? What would you do?
WATCHMAN July 19, 2012 at 09:15 PM
Some educators make Fallen Priests look like saints
Tim July 19, 2012 at 09:17 PM
What does southern Iowa food bank, almost 100 miles away and that doesn't even serve the area, have anything to do with one of the richest suburbs of Des Moines(Ankery)? The median family income in Ankery = $70,197K/yr http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ankeny,_Iowa#Demographics The median family income in Oswego = $70,500K/yr http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oswego,_Illinois#Demographics Both towns have a poverty rate of 1.6% of the families below the poverty line. Now I can see why you are all so worried, it is all about money with YOU. And you are visibly upset that there is someone who makes more money than you, because you are afraid you will be treated the same way that you treat someone who makes less than you. Well, now YOU are the one who makes less. For your sake, I hope your betters treat you with the respect you deserve, and not the respect you feel entitled to take away from others.
Martin July 19, 2012 at 09:32 PM
I would and have picked it up and handed it to the person in front of me. Even those days where I was pulling pennies from the sofa to by Ramen noodles for dinner.
Martin July 19, 2012 at 09:35 PM
Tim...are those numbers for the City or the School districts? 308 includes more than just Oswego...Plainfield, Aurora, Joliet, uncorporated Will and Kendall Co's, and I think some of Montgomery. I haven't checked the link yet..still at work. :) I as because I recall someone else saying the medium income was $55k for Oswego area.
Tim July 19, 2012 at 09:43 PM
The only difference of course, is that the school board didn't 'drop' the money without knowing it. They went out of their way to draw up this specific amendment to the contract, because they wanted him to leave. He left, and the rest of the contract was enforced as written. It has nothing to do with morals, character, or honesty. The EXACT conditions of the contract were met, that the previous board had agreed to in order for him to resign his position. In fact, if you had actually READ the previous contract that was amended, you would have seen that his previous contract allowed for FOUR YEARS of salary to be paid if he left. Instead, he worked with the board to lower that amount, to facilitate an orderly departure. So who has the character here? The new superintendent that worked to amend his contract for a lower amount, to facilitate a quick departure, and then followed it word for word? Or you, who is judging and name calling a man that you not only have never met, but have not even read the pertinent documents to the situation?
Dennis July 19, 2012 at 10:56 PM
Anyone that frequents the Patch will notice that this Tim guy does nothing but argue against the 'grain' or 'flow' of the posts. He's nothing but an exhausting know- it- all with no reason at all to be nosing around in Oswego. You would be best to just ignore his comments, maybe someday he or she will go away.
Tim July 19, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Martin The 55k figure was the Max income that would be allowed in the affordable housing proposed for oswego that many here were against because that meant section8 housing to them. 55k is 60% of median income for oswego families. That is why I supply supporting links when I post information. You are able to see for yourself if what is being posted is factual or just someone's opinion and/or prejudice.
Working for Oswego July 19, 2012 at 11:48 PM
I don't know the man but honestly, he did nothing wrong. Ankeny BOE offered him a severance package to leave....and he took it. I don't believe any of you would have done any thing different. In today's economy, no one would leave a job unless they have something else lined up. Ankeny didn't have to offer a severance...or offer such a generous one...but they did...and they all knew he would/or had been looking for a job. My bet is they are embarrassed beyond belief that they put that much money out there for the taking. They were stupid (oh, now I see the correlation to our BOE). I do question the reference check though....did Oswego BOE do their homework? If so, then Ankeny, knew straight out he was leaving so this lawsuit is a moot point; if they purse the lawsuit, I do not believe they will have a leg to stand on and will only be throwing more money away.
WATCHMAN July 19, 2012 at 11:49 PM
Tim you are correct... so let's check into Des Moines food bank... that $1.00 gets you $15 worth of food there too. In Oswego it costs you $225,000.00 a year for a superintendent that Des Moines sharecropped off at $175,000.00! Bottom line Iowa taxpayers could have $2,625,000.00 of food buying power which would feed the needy kids, feed for farm animals and all the while not contributing to the Superintendent's portfolio!
WATCHMAN July 19, 2012 at 11:53 PM
Now I need two !
Grammy July 20, 2012 at 01:55 AM
Alright if he decides to leave early--breaking his contract with Oswego--what has the BOE promised him? We have gone through so many superintendents in recent years. Used to be we hired "within". We did not have to pay thousands of dollars for a "search firm" and they stayed for years! Want to know why so many administrators are leaving the district? They know there is no room for advancement.
mike ellison July 20, 2012 at 03:31 AM
Yeah, it's tough when you get stuck at $175K per year. What a lousy situation to be in. There's just a group of people who call themselves administrators who like to job hop. And apparently there are search firms and school boards who ignore that sort of history and continue to play their game of musical chairs.
Kelly July 20, 2012 at 02:58 PM
I love all the food bank comments. How do we know that Mr. Wendt isn't a charitable contributor to many food pantries or other organizations? We don't. Why don't we wait for all this to pan out before we start judging the man? And as for the person who made the comment about Tim, I certainly don't agree with everything (or most of what) he says, but having someone here who plays the devil's advocate is important ... especially when we are all busy playing judge and jury. And the morality comments kill me, considering the fact that many of you insult each other on these message boards daily. ha! ha!
Alette Anderson July 20, 2012 at 05:31 PM
In response to: The people commenting that he 'stole' money, are never going to understand why they sound so silly. They have never been in a position that offers a severance package, because fast food places rarely do." Tim- I only worked fast food when I was paying my way through college. Then, I was just a school teacher and school administrator. You are correct that these jobs did not have severance packages. However, I understand that he did what he did because he could and "everyone would". It would just have been nice to have someone show more moral integrity than that. Of course, as someone who is compelled to put down those who disagree with him, I don't know if you could understand this point of view.
Tim July 20, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Morality is not even remotely involved when the other party signed the contract that they wanted to amend. Did you even bother to read it? I find it hard to believe you have, and can then say with a straight face that there is anything morally wrong with living up to the contract word for word exactly as it was written.
Walt Hines July 20, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Very well said Alette! I found that comment that you reference, to be offensive. I have worked fast food and would do it again if it put a roof over my head or food on the table. My former employer took the company overseas because he could avoid paying taxes and begin paying someone else $2.00 a day. Right now I'm working 1 full-time and 2 part time jobs because it's what I have to do. I'm not living off anyone but myself and I certainly don't get help either. What I found to be offensive was the insinuation that if you work fast food you're too ignorant to understand what's going on. I applaud anyone who has a job and supporting themselves, no matter what that job might be. Everyone would "NO" not everyone would!
Tim July 20, 2012 at 11:43 PM
You know what Walt? I worked fast food too, and it is not an insult to say that someone who works in fast food does not understand how severance packages work, because they don't get them. Now, however, I work in a professional field, and have received, and given severance packages. It is safe to say I understand them much better now, than when I never had to deal with them. If you still work in fast food, which seems to be the profession of many who think getting a severance package is somehow 'immoral', then it is not a stretch to say you don't understand them. It is not an insult, it is reality. I know that is hard for some to here to grasp, but it is still a fact. The stream of insults directed at this man, who has done nothing wrong, is what the residents should find offensive. These are your neighbors, jumping to judge someone and something they know absolutely nothing about. If you are comfortable living around(or being) those types of people, I feel pity for you. There is nothing immoral or unethical about taking a severance package, that is specifically spelled out in a contract you and your employer have agreed to. Like I said earlier, it is not this mans job to do the work of the Ankeny school board, and to call him unethical because they now have second thoughts about an agreement they willingly signed, under no duress whatsoever, is incredibly ignorant. Not stupid, ignorant.
Walt Hines July 21, 2012 at 02:22 AM
Tim maybe you should be respectful of others opinions. Whether or not they're absolute truth or fiction it's one of the few rights we all have in this country no matter what they maybe. This entire site is made up of opinions on a wide variety of topics. You come across as being the Prince of Patch with the know it all attitude, you're not always correct. If you lived in this school community you would know that there are many of us who struggle everyday. Our district has been through the mill and we're trying to make sense of it all. Whether or not Dr. Wendt's severance is legal or not is only a small part of the equation. Many on here are worried that we have now brought someone into the community who's going to put us in financial ruins and get what he wants no matter what the cost. We look at the numbers and see how many teachers we could save and bring busing back to the ones who have lost it. This district prides itself on character counts and our leader himself would have a hard time finding a place on that pillar.
Walt Hines July 21, 2012 at 02:46 AM
" I feel pity for you." I feel the same way for you. While I might not always agree with my neighbors or community residents at least I accept their opinions. I'm not "God" with all the correct answers and actions. I'm human just like everyone else and with that comes different values and beliefs. It's what makes us individuals. The same people you have a problem with are the ones who tried to save my wife. One by one they came forward to see if one of their kidneys would be a match. They thought nothing of giving a part of themselves to help someone who wasn't even blood related. I'm honored and blessed to have each and everyone of them in my life even if that means they have differing opinions from me. We came close but God took her home and when my time comes I can only pray that I will see her once again.
Rachael B. July 21, 2012 at 07:25 AM
Boy, do I disagree with you, Martin & Jennifer! Yes, a new leader needs some time to learn and adjust to the culture, but do you think that CEO's of major companies are given a year to settle in? No way! If Wendt was hired because he had experience with issues similar to those in our district, there shouldn't be a great time lag. I want to see results and quickly.
John Spasojevich July 23, 2012 at 03:36 AM
The problem is that for many years it seems the BOE thnks they work for the Superintendent.
Tim July 23, 2012 at 02:59 PM
different values and beliefs are one thing, but passing them off as facts is something completely different. You can tell me the sky is purple, or water flows uphill, but is doesn't change the fact that you are wrong. You are entitled to your own opinions, but not to your own facts. The facts are that this man has done nothing illegal, OR immoral. Yet these same neighbors of yours, and you, are forming a mob mentality to attack him personally on the internet. Many of the comments have been actionable libel, as in if the person making them were to be tracked down, they would find themselves in court on the other end of a lawsuit. It has nothing to do with your wife's kidney, no matter how emotional that story is for you. When the lawsuit is dropped are YOU going to step up and take responsibility for your own actions, and issue a public apology to this man?
Joe Smith July 23, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Tim, To hear all this talk about living up to contracts that both sides agreed upon is a legal issue sounds very different than the things you say about teachers wanting their contract with the state to be held up. You definitely speak out of both sides of your mouth as this superintendent is getting paid with Iowas tax payer dollars. you also said you have recieved severance packages. Again, Why should teachers not fight for the pensions that were promised them??? Can teachers get a severance package of all the money they put in from the state? I am confused by your arguments against pensions. It was a contractual obligation that both sides agreed to and in your words, teachers should give up benefits that are promised them because the state (taxpayers) can't afford to pay them. I agree with the superintendents payout from Iowa because it was in his contract. Contracts should be upheld as well as contracts for teachers.
Tim July 23, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Yes, teachers can get a refund of all the money THEY put in. How many of them do you think are aware that the amount is actually $0 in the majority of cases? While it may be confusing to you, it is not talking out of 'both sides of my mouth', because at no point did say to invalidate an existing contract, but to CHANGE them going forward when up for renegotiation. There is no promise being broken when changing a contract to stipulate that the person collecting the pension, actually be the one contributing to it. In fact, the Rockford district has done exactly that. That's how contracts work, when the existing contract is up, a new one is negotiated taking into consideration the current conditions. If the teachers union can not agree to the new terms, they no longer have a contract, and new teachers can be brought in. I'm sure you will agree there is no shortage of teachers looking for work. In the big picture, this actually saves taxpayer money, AND brings in a new group of teachers who are more concerned about teaching, than inflated pensions that are out of sync with reality. It is a win-win. This is capitalism, and this is how it works. You can't just pick and choose your favorite parts, and ignore what is inconvenient.
LJ August 03, 2012 at 02:35 AM
Smarter than the average Iowan? Really Kelly? Most Iowans I know can spell the word knew correctly.

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