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Newton school board to pay Carpenters nearly $70K

COVINGTON — The Newton County Board of Education will pay a top school official and a high school principal nearly $70,000 as part of a settlement.

The Newton County School System released Monday afternoon a settlement agreement between Dr. Dennis Carpenter, deputy superintendent for operations, and his wife LaQuanda Carpenter, principal of Alcovy High School. Last week, NCSS announced that the Carpenters were being released from their contracts that week as part of a settlement.

The Citizen had submitted an open records request for information about the settlement on Wednesday afternoon, after NCSS initially refused to provide further information, saying it was a personnel issue. David Hudson, attorney for the Georgia Press Association, said Thursday that the settlement documents are open records — a case in federal court and one in Superior Court ruled that such documents must be made public.

“The Carpenters shall receive and be paid in lump sum their respective, regular salaries through May 31, 2013, which includes benefits such as health insurance,” according to a letter from school board attorney Kent Campbell to attorney Stephanie Lindsey.

NCSS didn’t originally provide figures of the settlement in a press release, but later answered a question by the Citizen, stating that Dennis Carpenter’s salary from February through May totals $36,760.18 and LaQuanda Carpenter’s totals $28,099.44.

Additionally, NCSS will pay its share of the health insurance premiums up to and through June 30, 2013. The family plan insurance costs $3,649.36, according to NCSS.

“This agreements and the payments of the lump sum salaries by NCSS … resolves any and all claims, disputes and/or causes of actions that may have arisen from their respective employment with the NCBOE,” reads the settlement letter, which was signed by Campbell, NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews, both Carpenters and Lindsey on Jan. 22.

In October, LaQuanda Carpenter withdrew a pending lawsuit against Newton County Board of Education Vice Chairman Jeff Meadors. saying it was an effort to end divisiveness in the community. She originally had filed a defamation suit in April naming 11 “John Does” who commented about her on the Newton Citizen website; she later added Meadors and dismissed the others.

“This letter as confirmation of agreement to the terms and conditions stated herein shall not become part of the Carpenter’s personnel files, but shall remain confidential not subject to public inspection unless required by court order,” the letter continues.

“While the Newton County Board of Education’s intent has been to keep confidential the personnel matters that come before the body on a routine basis, in the case of the recent settlement with the Carpenters, and in light of recent open records requests, I believe, on advice of attorney, that it is in everyone’s best interest to release the terms of the settlement. Thus, avoiding further time, money, and energy, the settlement is being released,” said school board Chair Abigail Coggin in a press release by NCSS Monday afternoon. “The majority of the Board continues to believe it is in the best interest of the school system and the Carpenters to sever the current employment relationship. This way, the school system can get on with the process of finding their respective successors as well as focusing on the education and safety of our students. And the Carpenters can focus on their move to Missouri.”

Mathews, who is retiring in July, said last week that he has indicated to the board that the new superintendent should make the recommendation to fill Dennis Carpenter’s position or to reorganize departments. Also, Mathews plans to recommend to the school board that acting Alcovy Principal Vic Lee remain at the school for the rest of the school year.

Both Carpenters submitted letters to NCSS requesting release from their contracts on Jan. 22.

“This request comes after much deliberation regarding balancing my responsibilities as a wife, mother and professional,” LaQuanda Carpenter wrote. “I will forever be grateful to the Newton County Board of Education for the opportunities that I have been afforded as the principal of Alcovy High School. Furthermore, I sincerely wish the Newton County School System well.”

She has been principal at Alcovy High School since 2009 and has been on maternity leave since November.

In December, the Hickman Mills C-1 Board of Directors in Kansas City, Mo., finalized an agreement with Dennis Carpenter to begin as the district’s new superintendent effective July 1. He has been with NCSS since February 2008, when he was hired as associate superintendent for Human Resources; he also took leave from NCSS at the end of last year while his wife was on maternity leave.

“Given my upcoming transition to the superintendency in another region of the country, I am requesting to be released from my current employment,” Dennis Carpenter wrote. “This request will allow me the time needed to handle all of the personal and professional facets of this transition. If I can be of assistance to the district during this transition period, do not hesitate to let me know. … Furthermore, I sincerely wish the Newton County School System and the children of Newton County the best.”

Comments

SilentOne 1 year, 10 months ago

I do believe I would like to see the position paper submitted by Ms. Lindsey. I did not think school system employees were entitled to such settlements if they requested to be released from their contracts. For that matter, I did not think they were entitled to severance pay if they were dismissed from their positions by a local BOE-- unless they filed and won an appeal that is.

I will also be VERY reluctant to vote in favor of the upcoming education SPLOST.

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dennistay53 1 year, 10 months ago

This proves it has all been about money with Lindsey and the Carpenters. The board just gave away $70,000 of hard earned taxpayer money. NEVER,NEVER, NEVER will i vote for a SPLOST for this school system again. I mean why should i support a system that gives money away like this. How much went to Lindsey who IS NOT employed by the school system? They couldn't get money in the civil suit so they found another way. Please join with me in demanding the resignination of all school board members voting for this. Which members did vote for this?

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Del 1 year, 10 months ago

So let me make sure I understand this........Mr. Carpenter is leaving and taking his bride with him. They are both under contract however the NCBOE is going to PAY them to abandon the contract!!! What's wrong with this picture? AMAZING

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tomgahunter 1 year, 10 months ago

Time to move on...We got our moneys worth getting rid of the Carpenters. We need to be sure the NCBOE hires the best supertendent not the one Eddie Johnson wants.

Personally I will vote against the SPLOT & urge the School Board to withdraw the vote until next year so we can see how the Superintendent's hunt works.

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dennistay53 1 year, 10 months ago

@tomgahunter- Time to move on in letting the Carpenters go yes- Moving on from how the board handled this and the secret way they tried to keep this from the citizens of this county- NEVER. We should be told who voted for it and who didn't. It needs to be investigated as to weather any laws or ethics were broken. This sometimes closed up board needs to be opened up and made to understand they work for the citizens of this county and not for themselves or special interest.

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jwm1955 1 year, 10 months ago

It's time for SACS to come to Newton County and investigate the great board of education in Newton County. There is a lot s*** going on that does not smell good.

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John 1 year, 10 months ago

Guess this means anyone in the NCSS that is under contract can be fully paid for the full term of the contract even if they request to be released from it early. Doesn't sound like real world stuff to me just a way to get apaid without working. I have made major interstate moves (aka transitioning) 5 times in my life. They are actually very simple and not very stressful at all - find a house in another state buy or rent it, sell or rent your existing house, get 3 bids from moving companies (pick the one you are most comfortable with), pack up the kids and go and stay at a Motel 6 (they always have there lights on). Big hints: don't have the movers pack your tooth brush, you will never find it if they do - I learned the hard way and the movers never seem to show up on time for packing the van or at the delivery destination.

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Satan69 1 year, 10 months ago

@john you do understand that according to this wonderful corrupt Atty that they have they have been victimized? The funny part of this whole scenario is that they caused all of this themselves but want to blame everyone else. They shouldn't have gotten paid a penny they don't deserve any of this period. What a crock. Great job newton.

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John 1 year, 10 months ago

Satan69, I fully understand what has happened here - i will not conjecture as to who or how or where or what or when. But I have been around long enough to see similar situations and concluded that most anyone who is serving out their term whether it bein the private sector, local, fatrenal groups or federal governments, etc., i is highly likely to be a "lame duck" and will do what ever serves their own self interest rather than devote their efforts to fully perform the position responsibilits they were initially hired to do, all the way to the end. But there will be two NO votes on SPLOT for certain from this house.

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Frustrated 1 year, 10 months ago

Should it come as a surprise to any of us that the BOE PAID the Carpenters to leave? Was there not a penalty clause in their contracts for early termination? Every contract I have seen from cable TV, cell phone, apartment leases has a clause that imposes a penalty if you end the contract early. So just why are WE paying them to terminate the contracts early? Oh wait, who actually negotiated this deal, Matthews their buddy?

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henrystamm 1 year, 10 months ago

I would have loved to have gotten compensation that large for any job that I left. Only this dumb administration can approve that. Yes I forget that it was not their money. Just incredible, only the government compensates failure.

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sunshine 1 year, 10 months ago

i don't understand this, so they break their contract and we still pay them $70,000 to leave! I will vote NO to SPLOST cause this is my hard earned $ being paid to for this stupid crap!!. Not to mention i am already paying private school costs because Alcovy is so out of control that i wouldn't let my child go there anyway! Well done BOE!!!!!!

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CBSfinder 1 year, 10 months ago

@ frustrated Mathews doesn't care and I think them getting anything was because they knew their only shot was the boe no one else in their right mind would pay these creeps for everything they had done. Its crap all of it. They need to just go now and tell ole steph to leave people alone now.

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dennistay53 1 year, 10 months ago

A precedent has been set here that will cost the taxpayers in this county a lot of money in the future. Thank goodness this paper didn't allow then to keep it a secret from us as they intended.

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OnToday 1 year, 10 months ago

Reading the original document, it appears as though their attorney Ms. Lindsey tried to suppress this from getting out to the public and some in the NCSS tried as well. Not only would I like to know who voted for this but I would like to know who tried to keep it from the public. Isn't it sad that the newspaper had to hire an attorney to force the system to play by the rules and obey Sunshine Laws? What else are they hiding? It is past time for an independent audit of this system by someone at the state level. Unethical behavior is apparently at an all-time high in this system. Wouldn't it be great if every teacher marched on the central office building with a copy of their contract and demanded a release with compensation? It won't happen though because the vast majority of the teachers in this county do the right thing by their students and don't run when the going gets tough.

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ShannonBlack 1 year, 10 months ago

Yes dennistay they are a good paper unlike some that we know and hate. @ sunshine they do a lot of things and get away with it. Like all this other crap that has happened. Im still in shock.

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deathtotaxes 1 year, 10 months ago

Isn't it a coincidence that both took maternity leave prior the settlement? How many days have either one of them worked this school year? No way would I pay them a dime. They have both cost Newton taxpayers. The NCBOE is a joke and they should be all fired. Next call is to SACS.

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Frustrated 1 year, 10 months ago

Does anyone have a copy of the first letter from Lindsey to the BOE? I would like to see how it was brought about.

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eyewitness 1 year, 10 months ago

I knew this about money from day one.

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NoSPLOST 1 year, 10 months ago

Can employees sue the Carpenters if they were harmed by them?

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Del 1 year, 10 months ago

Where is Dr. Clamp when we need him?

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Inafog 1 year, 10 months ago

Something smells awful about this deal. Since the Carpenters requested to leave their contract early, they should be paid for their accrued time worked, accrued vacation time, and any other "leave" time that has accrued. Not a cent more. If they were fired, then the NCBOE would have the option to extend "separation payments" to the one leaving if they so desired, but certainly not their entire contract plus benefits. Someone needs to take a very hard look at the Newton School System from the top (superintendent) on down the chain of employment. Why not just let Mathews leave now and not risk the "lame duck" argument already presented. Why should he care what the Carpenters are paid to leave as he is leaving as well. Will someone with some business sense please delve into this mess we call a BOE and School System administrators?

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Covingtonian 1 year, 10 months ago

I just finished reading the Covington News, the legal organ for newton county and was enlightened as to why the Carpenters were paid. Shannon Black has a lot to do with it and her harassment techniques. I wasn't surprised to learn that she sent emails not only to Alcovy but to other schools in Newton as well as getting in touch with people and at least one news organization in Missouri as late as December 2012. Yes, as has been commented on before the lady, and I use the term loosely, is obsessed. She is the one who should be paying the Carpenters $70,000 to leave since the board seems to be trying to end this ugly chapter in Newton county history. Most of your anger and ill advised comments should also be directed at Black, Satan69 and her other personas since she post under so many names. The lady is obviously sick and refuse to let go even after herself moving to another county. I have never met the Carpenters or their lawyer but all three seem pretty smart to me since they have so far come out ahead in this mess. And citizens of Newton county, I personally wouldn't want to go to any type of trial with Shannon Black as my key witness. And this rag of a paper continues to give her a forum, wake up NEWTON COUNTY smh.

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dennistay53 1 year, 10 months ago

@Covingtonian- There is no excuse for the school board to attempt to sneak this settlement by the citizen of newton county. If not for this rag of a paper (as you call it ) we probably would have never known. Your legal organ for sure wasn't going to tell us. If they had so much on the lady you mentioned then why did they drop the suit? Does this mean that everytime someone is critical to someone working for the school - the board is gonna pay a contract off with our tax dollars ? There will always be two sides to a story. How do you know everything you hear from the carpenters and your legal organ is true? There were more making complaints about the carpenters than the person you mentioned above. Wolf, wolf, wolf many times equals a wolf. You are correct that it is time to move on from the carpenters, but not from how the board tried to hide the settlement from the public. By the way i love reading this rag of a paper. You hear both sides and not just the one side the other paper wants you to see.

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MamaTurd 1 year, 10 months ago

LaQuanda Carpenter should pay or the board should pay Meadors' legal fees and costs in FULL.

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Tatersalad 1 year, 10 months ago

I agree Mr meadors should have his legal fees paid by the carpenters that would only be fair.

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Tairuna 1 year, 10 months ago

@covingtonian I'm a little confused why are you pointing the finger at ms black constantly sure she did us all a favor but not all by herself you act like she is some powerful person. Listen she was wronged as well and so was meadors and dockery so I myself think they deserve some compensation as well. You must be for Lindsey and them cause u do everything you can to make ms black center of attention. I'm sure she has had enough.

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Calisweetheart 1 year, 10 months ago

I have a solution pay meadors and publically apologize to all 3 of them but I believe that they all deserve compensation.

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Frustrated 1 year, 10 months ago

If, as they claim, the Carpernters were being harrassed by Shannon Black then that is a matter between them. The taxpayers shouldnt be footing the bill for this fiasco. Like some others have asked, why did the Carpenters drop the lawsuit if they have proof of the wrong doings? Maybe what was found in discovery by Meadors' lawyer was far worse than what Lindsey could dig up? Either way the citizens of Newton County are the losers. Having to pay them to get out of their contract after putting up with their circus.

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Kodaanddylansmom 1 year, 10 months ago

@ frustrated the law suit was dropped because their was nothing no harassment no nothing they all got bent out of shape when black didn't throw meadors under the bus. Their was no reason to since he had nothing to do with it. The tax payers are suffering I agree but not because of ms black because of their own frivolous law suit the filed and it back fired when buttons started getting pushed. I hate that other people are getting blamed and that we are stuck footing the bill for these creeps to leave. Meadors I'm sure has a lot of things in his favor I hope he uses them if he does.

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NoSPLOST 1 year, 10 months ago

Newton County IN MY OPINION really won't recover on the school board until Kent Campbell goes away. He has outlived his usefulness and in my opinion wrongly advises the board. He is NOT elected and is not in charge - other way around. Mathews is leaving and that is a good thing. We just got rid of the main two problems and if Kent can pack up and call it a day we can rebuild. Next step - get rid of or make life unbearable for those hired by and protected by the crowd that just left.

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MamaTurd 1 year, 10 months ago

@covingtonian first of all if the carpenters had nothing to hide they wouldn't of jumped ship so easy, second who cares if Shannon black had something to do with it they harassed her too. Stop whinning and grow up.

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