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 .