CENTER — After weeks of rumors, Center Consolidated Schools confirmed Monday that Chris Vance, superintendent of Center Schools for the past two years, has resigned. Vance was placed on paid administrative leave July 6 pending the investigation of “allegations of misconduct” involving a personnel matter.
The letter announcing his administrative leave, signed by school board director Lyn Bogle, advised Vance that while on leave he was not to be on school grounds or attend school-sponsored events without the school board’s permission. Vance also was forbidden to access his district accounts or be in contact with district students, parents or employees.
On Tuesday, Interim Superintendent Lori Cooper released the information regarding Vance’s leave and resignation in response to a Colorado Open Records Act request. Cooper, who retired in May, was still working part-time for the school when she agreed to act as interim superintendent.
According to various reports from school staff and officials, the matter involving Vance was brought to the attention of the school board in late June by a staff member. This led to a series of executive sessions held on July 5, 10, 17 and 30. All four executive sessions were announced using the same state statute, with the following language used in the three special meeting notices:
“The Board of Education of the Center Consolidated School District 26JT, hereby calls a special meeting …in the middle/high school conference room, for the purpose of receiving legal advice of personnel matters.
“Recommended motion: motion to go into executive session to discuss matters required to be kept confidential by federal law, specifically the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), pursuant to C.R.S. 24-6-402 (4)(B), and that by this motion, the Board announces that such is the purpose of the executive session.”
While FERPA is invoked as justification for the executive session, it was pointed out to Cooper in the CORA request that the law primarily governs student records and has no bearing on Vance’s situation. Cooper said citation of the statute “was an oversight.”
A regular school board meeting was held on July 10 but no press release from the school regarding Vance’s leave status was issued by the school board. Some staff members expressed concern that no official statement has been released by the school during the course of Vance’s leave and investigation.
Vance was given 21 days to consider the terms of the separation agreement prior to its execution beginning July 26. He received a severance payment of $15,166, and a $20,643.53 payment for accrued but unused vacation time and leave time. Vance also was reimbursed for health insurance premiums for two months.
In return, Vance released the school of all claims regarding the separation and agreed not to bring any court action for matters or claims arising before the signing of the agreement. Vance was given the opportunity to consult with an attorney prior to the tendering of his resignation.
The agreement provides that Vance has seven days to revoke his signature following notarization of the agreement. In signing the agreement, Vance acknowledges that he is not aware of any pending lawsuit, charge or proceeding against him by any released party. By signing the resignation agreement, Vance agrees that any such lawsuits or proceedings are automatically withdrawn.