Switzerland of Ohio School District Officials Call Split With Superintendent ‘Mutually Beneficial’
WOODSFIELD — The Switzerland of Ohio Local School District will pay its former superintendent, John Hall, more than $340,000 as part of a settlement and release agreement reached between Hall and the board of education.
School district Treasurer Lance Erlwein released details of the agreement, which both parties signed Dec. 9, on Wednesday.
The agreement states the board and Hall “mutually desire Mr. Hall’s resignation.” Hall filed a lawsuit against the board and board member Jackie Hupp in the Noble County Court of Common Pleas on Aug. 4.
Details of the lawsuit are not included in the settlement agreement. After the Aug. 4 lawsuit was filed, the board held an investigatory meeting with Hall to address the board’s complaints against Hall.
Erlwein said the agreement was the best solution for the district, although the board had to make some difficult decisions.
“We don’t want to focus on the past. We have a lot of great people and a lot of great initiatives that we can now focus on, now that the settlement agreement has been reached. (Interim) Superintendent (Jeffrey) Greenley and I both agree that this was a tough decision for both parties. The last 12 months have been exhausting for everyone involved. It was a mutual agreement, and in the end Mr. Hall made the decision to resign.”
According to the agreement, “Hall affirms that he has no other charges, claims, or lawsuits pending against the Board or Ms. Hupp. Ms. Hupp and the Board affirm they have no other charges, claims, or lawsuits pending against Mr. Hall.” All parties agreed to drop all pending litigation, complaints and claims.
Hall’s employment contract with the district ran through the 2019-20 school year, at a salary of $87,900 per year plus benefits. The agreement stipulates that Hall will be paid $170,558.50 as part of the Dec. 23 payroll, and an additional $170,558.50 as part of the Jan. 6 payroll.
The board agreed to pay $10,888.46 to Hall’s State Teachers Retirement System account. Hall will remain on the district’s health insurance plan through Jan. 31, at the board’s expense, and the board also agreed to pay all costs associated with Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA, payments through June.
Hall was entitled to use all vacation and sick days up until Jan. 2, and agreed to no longer perform any duties as superintendent effective Dec. 1.
“It was a very tough situation for both parties. I can speak for the board and say they had mixed feelings about the very tough decision they had to make, but in the end everyone agreed this was in the best interest for our kids. Some decisions are not easy to make, but often the alternatives are much worse,” Erlwein said. “Again, we want to focus on the future and the positive things we have in the works. The gears are moving again.”
Erlwein said the remaining value on Hall’s contract was $550,000, meaning he settled for less. He added that the district’s insurance company provided $40,000 toward the settlement and cost of defense. He said that had the board not settled, lawsuits would likely have been ongoing.
“The investigation the board was doing against Mr. Hall would likely have resulted in another lawsuit in addition to the lawsuit that was pending in Noble County. That would have been bad for everyone. The board understood that they had no choice but to honor the contract to let Hall go,” Erlwein said. “By law, the board did not have a whole lot of options. They had to move on with a mutually beneficial settlement that canceled all present and possible future litigation.”
Erlwein called Tuesday’s board meeting “a great step in the rebuilding process.”
“There was more open and productive discussion between the board and admin team. The board meeting felt very positive and we are pleased to be able to get back to focusing on what matters — our students,” Erlwein said. “The board will be seeking input from the community as we work on future goals, and we have already laid out the groundwork for some exciting new initiatives that will improve our students’ experiences.”
Erlwein said the relationship between Hall and the board had become untenable, and had to be severed for the good of everyone in the district. He compared the settlement and release agreement and resignation to a divorce.
“During this situation, it seemed everything had come to a grinding halt. Nothing was getting done. Sometimes it gets so bad, you have to do what you have to just walk away. It was almost like a divorce — we had to make the tough choice and split for the good of the children. The alternative would have been worse,” Erlwein said.
Hall could not be reached for comment.