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Departed Normandy Superintendent Gets $78,000 Severance Payment

Charles Pearson, seated, talks with Superintendent Ty McNichols.
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Former Normandy school Superintendent Ty McNichols, who resigned last month, will continue earning the balance of his $180,000 annual salary through the end of June in exchange for serving as a consultant for the district.

According to a separation agreement approved Thursday night in closed session by the district’s Joint Executive Governing Board, McNichols will be paid $77,846.20 through June 30, along with health and dental insurance for him and his family. During that time, the agreement says, “he will serve as a consultant to the collaborative providing advice and counsel as requested by the board of directors of the collaborative.”

The agreement says McNichols has waived his right to file suit over his departure, which came after a little more than 18 months in the job. In addition, the agreement “shall not be construed to suggest, in any way, any wrongdoing by the collaborative or McNichols and the parties agree there was no ‘for cause’ termination of McNichols nor was there any basis for any such termination. The parties agree that this agreement is an amicable settlement to the mutual satisfaction of the parties.”

McNichols has not responded to requests for comments on his departure.

McNichols’ sudden departure came midway through a meeting of the district’s board on Jan. 22. The board went into closed session, then came out to say McNichols had resigned and his position would be filled on an interim basis by Charles Pearson, who had been head of the governing board.

The board reportedly had decided to hold a nationwide search for a superintendent, prompting McNichols to leave. After the announcement, Pearson said that the board, which has been in place since last July 1, wanted its own person to help guide the district back to accreditation.

“This district is in a challenging place right now," Pearson said in an interview at that time, "and because we weren't the ones who hired the former superintendent, once we became the board who in turn was responsible for it all, we felt an obligation to at least begin to have conversations about if there were another leader out there.”

Pearson will be paid on the basis of a $150,000 annual salary while serving as acting superintendent.

Peter Kachris, the liaison between Normandy and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, has been tapped to lead the process to find a new superintendent. He plans to use a search firm to look nationwide as well as use community forums to find out what Normandy residents want in a new leader.

Already, the district has made available an online survey seeking responses on such issues as  the experience, priorities and qualities a new superintendent should have, as well as such questions as “do you trust the superintendent search process by the Normandy Schools Collaborative?” and "how good of a job is the district doing in communicating information to the community."

McNichols was hired in the spring of 2013, before the Missouri Supreme Court upheld a 1993 law allowing students who live in an unaccredited school district to transfer to a nearby accredited school, with their home district paying tuition and in some cases transportation costs.

In the first year of his tenure, the district’s scores on the annual state evaluation dropped to the lowest point in the state.

The financial impact of the decision by about 1,000 Normandy students to transfer in the 2013-14 school year led state education officials to first take control of the districts finances, then dissolve the district altogether as of last June 30. The next day, the collaborative took over, with all employees having to re-apply for their jobs.

McNichols and other administrators worked without contracts as of July 1. Three assistant superintendents have left in recent months. The state board of education classified Normandy as accredited as a state oversight district, but that classification was struck down by a St. Louis County circuit judge earlier this week.

Follow Dale Singer on Twitter: @Dalesinger

Dale Singer began his career in professional journalism in 1969 by talking his way into a summer vacation replacement job at the now-defunct United Press International bureau in St. Louis; he later joined UPI full-time in 1972. Eight years later, he moved to the Post-Dispatch, where for the next 28-plus years he was a business reporter and editor, a Metro reporter specializing in education, assistant editor of the Editorial Page for 10 years and finally news editor of the newspaper's website. In September of 2008, he joined the staff of the Beacon, where he reported primarily on education. In addition to practicing journalism, Dale has been an adjunct professor at University College at Washington U. He and his wife live in west St. Louis County with their spoiled Bichon, Teddy. They have two adult daughters, who have followed them into the word business as a communications manager and a website editor, and three grandchildren. Dale reported for St. Louis Public Radio from 2013 to 2016.