Warren superintendent choice gets $250,000 to quit
Warren Township High, would-be superintendent agree on severance
More than $250,000 will be paid to Jeff Brierton for quitting shortly before he was scheduled to advance this month from principal to superintendent at Warren Township High School in Gurnee, according to documents obtained through a Daily Herald open records request.
Brierton, who led the O'Plaine Road campus for freshmen and sophomores, was given the superintendent's job after a 7-0 school board vote in December 2010. He was supposed to replace Phil Sobocinski, whose retirement became effective June 30.
However, the Warren District 121 board and Brierton struck a resignation agreement in May that "shall not in any way be construed as an admission of wrongdoing" by either side, documents state. Brierton's three-year superintendent contract had been set to begin July 1, with an initial $192,000 base salary.
Under the deal, Warren will make a $104,092 lump-sum severance payment to Brierton within 30 to 60 days of his resignation as a district employee at the close of business June 30. He'll receive another $147,608 in payments spread over 12 months — the equivalent of his final salary as principal — for a combined $251,700.
Documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act request show District 121 taxpayers also will cover 18 months of COBRA premiums for Brierton's continued coverage in a full-family PPO medical plan offered to other administrators, along with the costs of a $30,000 term life insurance policy over the same time.
Brierton had 26 unused vacation days when he signed the resignation agreement May 10. He'll be paid for whatever leftover vacation time remained on his final day of employment, June 30.
A statement from District 121 board President John Anderson and Brierton is part of the nine-page deal. The school board accepted his resignation in June, under a personnel agenda item labeled "Exhibit A" without any names or other details.
"As you all know, Dr. Brierton has been working these last 18 months to prepare to be the next superintendent at Warren," the document states. "Unfortunately, both the board and Dr. Brierton have found that their working relationship has broken down. Despite all of his preparations, everyone involved has agreed that it is best for Dr. Brierton to decline his appointment as superintendent."
They ended the statement with "Go Blue Devils."
Brierton, 59, declined to comment Monday. Anderson couldn't be reached for comment.
Under a section of the deal titled "Public Announcement and Discussion," Brierton and Warren officials must keep the terms "strictly confidential" unless otherwise required by law. If asked, Brierton and school officials should respond they have "amicably resolved any differences to their mutual satisfaction," the document states.
District 121 officials and Brierton aren't supposed to say anything inconsistent with the joint statement he issued with Anderson.
"The parties recognize that rumors and misinformation about Dr. Brierton's status and departure from the district may be reasonably expected to harm and disrupt the educational environment and Dr. Brierton," the agreement says.
Applause from Warren employees and others greeted Brierton after he was named District 121's new boss in December 2010. At the time, he thanked the school board for selecting him as superintendent and said he looked forward to leading what he said is a system with amazing students and staff.
An educator for more than 30 years, Brierton departed as principal at Round Lake High School to lead Warren's O'Plaine Road campus in July 2007. His resume includes work as an adjunct professor at Concordia University and Northeastern Illinois University.
Last week, Mary Perry-Bates was named Warren's interim superintendent. Perry-Bates has been assistant superintendent and is scheduled to retire in June 2013.
District 121 board members are expected to begin the search for a permanent superintendent during the 2012-13 academic year.
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