Board amends agreement with former superintendent

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Orr remains district employee

By Kacie Goode

An agreement between Nelson County Schools and former superintendent Anthony Orr has been amended, but Orr remains an employee of the district.

In July, the school board had initially approved an agreement with Orr in exchange for his resignation as superintendent. The agreement came after many in the community called for Orr’s ousting from the position following public scrutiny over classroom issues, teacher turnover and other matters. Orr was under contract to serve as superintendent until June 30, 2018.

“Anthony Orr has a contract with the district and there was not any grounds to dismiss Anthony for cause, as we have stated previously,” board attorney Terry Geoghegan said Friday. He said the district had the option to either “write Orr a check for his contract or use his services to make our system more efficient.”

Geoghegan said a complaint had been made to state education officials about “certain language” in the original agreement, though he could not provide specifics on what that language was.

“In order to clear up that matter, the agreement was amended,” he said.

The original agreement stated that the district would create a “Director of Process, Research and Improvement” position to which Orr would be appointed by the interim superintendent, who was named a few days later.

The amended agreement, which was approved after the board returned from a closed session Thursday, takes out all reference to the director position and Orr’s appointment, but states Orr has maintained his right to continue as a tenured, certified employee of the district. When asked if Orr was still serving in the director position, Geoghegan responded that he “is expected to do the duties in the position that was posted previously by the district.”

Geoghegan later added that the position was posted, Orr applied and was hired by Interim Superintendent Tom Brown. When asked if Brown had the option of hiring someone else for the position if they applied, Geoghegan said yes.

When asked for details of what Orr is doing, Geoghegan said according to Chief Operating Officer Tim Hockensmith, Orr “has been doing research on securing performance based SEEK funding for the district.”

“One of the big problems that our school system is facing and other school systems and, in fact, any government agencies across the state is lack of funding,” Geoghegan said. “Therefore we are trying to do everything we can in the system to look for ways to save money.”

Orr’s existing contract from his employment as superintendent means he continues to make his same salary until his contract is up. Geoghegan could not quote that salary amount, but a copy of a contract for Orr on the Kentucky Department of Education’s website list’s the superintendent’s annual salary rate at $124,216. 

While Orr’s contract is set to end next year, Geoghegan said the new superintendent could have the option of keeping Orr employed, but his salary would not be guaranteed to remain the same as his contract would be up.

As with the original agreement, the amended agreement also includes references to relocation expenses if Orr leaves employment as well as sick leave, vacation days and retirement, though other references to compensation and benefits have been removed.

Copies of the original and amended agreements are available for public view at www.kystandard.com.

The district came under state investigation after at least one complaint was filed with the Office of Education Accountability regarding Orr’s new position and other concerns. Per the original agreement, Orr was supposed to be making monthly reports to the district, and when questioned about the position in October, Geoghegan had said the district had not asked Orr to make those formal reports “pending possible litigation.” The attorney said Friday, however, that Orr could now start making those reports.

Geoghegan would not provide further comment regarding the complaint and its timing in relation to the position being posted, but said Orr has been very cooperative with the school system and “everyone involved is trying to get the most benefit for the outlay the school system is obligated to pay.”

“In addition, the system is running smoothly, has had few problems this term and everyone is putting forth all efforts possible to select the best superintendent to be newly employed.”

Officials with the Office of Education Accountabilty said the Standard would be provided final reports regarding the investigation against Nelson County Schools once they are completed.

amendedagreement-orr.pdf590.58 KB
agreementandjobdescription.pdf636.48 KB