After spending more than half her career as an educator in the Knob Noster R-VIII School District, Superintendent Dr. Kristee Lorenz entered into a separation agreement with the Knob Noster School District effective Dec. 30.
Board President Mary Ann Mathews declined to comment to the Democrat and instead referred questions to the Knob Noster School District.
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jerrod Wheeler was not available for comment Monday.
A press release provided by the district stated, “The Knob Noster Board of Education and Dr. Kristee Lorenz provide public notice that on Dec. 30, the District approved a separation agreement that includes payment to Dr. Lorenz which are based, in part, of the terms of her contract.
“The terms of the separation agreement were unanimously approved by all seven (7) members of the Board.
“As part of her separation from the District, Dr. Lorenz submitted her resignation effective June 30, 2016. Dr. Lorenz has elected to take leave until June 30, 2016.
“The Board thanks Dr. Lorenz for her service and wishes her the best in her future personal and professional endeavors. Likewise, Dr. Lorenz is thankful for her time serving the Knob Noster School District.”
A separate press release from two former members of the Board of Education contradicts one piece of information in the District’s release.
Micheal Fisk and Matt Cleveland announced they resigned their seats from the Knob Noster R-VIII Board of Education effective Dec. 22.
“The two former board members resigned their seats on the Knob Noster R-VIII Board of Education effective Dec. 22, 2015,” the release stated. “The two former board members resigned in the wake of the Superintendent Dr. Kristee Lorenz separating from the district.”
The release went on to state that Fisk and Cleveland did not participate in the Dec. 30 board meeting in which the board approved a separation agreement, as they had resigned the week prior.
Fisk was elected to the board in April 2010 and was the longest tenured member of the board. He was president of the Board from April 2014 to April 2015.
Cleveland was elected to the board in 2013 and was the second-longest tenured member of the board. He served as treasurer of the Board from April 2014 to April 2015.
“Dr. Lorenz was a highly qualified superintendent who was fiscally responsible and led with students’ success in mind, not special interests,” Fisk said in the release. “I believe our students, teachers and administration team would be best served for her to continue to lead the District.”
When contacted by the Democrat, Fisk said he could not comment any further on the matter at the time because of his presence at closed board meetings.
In the release, Cleveland provided similar statements as Fisk.
“This board has made a decision which is not in the best interests of our students and community,” Cleveland said. “By doing so, the board is incentivizing a culture of intimidation which is toxic for our students and teacher leaders.
“Dr. Lorenz worked every day to give our students a 21st Century education and effectively stewarded our community’s resources to do so,” Cleveland added.
In the event of the resignation of more than two board members at one time in a School District, State Statute (MO 162.261.1) requires that the school district notify the county commissioner of the school district where the vacancies occurred.
The commissioner typically will appoint members to fill the vacancy until the next election is hosted.
When contacted by the Democrat Monday afternoon, Johnson County Commissioner Bill Gable said he was not aware of the resignation of Fisk and Cleveland.
“I know there was some discussion of some members resigning,” Gable said. “But I haven’t been made aware of that by the District.”
“We will have to determine when the next election will be since it is in the middle of a filing period,” said Johnson County Clerk Diane Thompson. “We also have to be notified by the district of the resignation and as of (4:30 p.m. Monday) they have not contacted us.”
Lorenz did speak to the Democrat late Monday afternoon.
“I have resigned from the Knob Noster School District effective June 30, 2016.” Lorenz said. “The issue of my resignation has been resolved to mutual satisfaction but I have made the decision to leave immediately; the district will always have a special place in my heart.”
Lorenz had been employed by Knob Noster for 16 years as a classroom teacher, counselor, coach, assistant superintendent and eventually superintendent.
In a Democrat article from earlier this year, Lorenz spoke of some of the achievements of the District in recent years including an APR (Annual Progress Report) score of 98.6 percent — 138 points out of a possible 140 — last year and the receipt of a $1.8 million STE+AM Department of Defense grant for the district.
The District scored in the top 26 percent in the state in the four tested core areas.
Lorenz had signed a contract with the Knob Noster District on Jan. 16, 2015, to continue her employment as superintendent.
In the terms of the contract, she accepted employment for 36 months, from July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2018, subject to the provisions of the contract.
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484