Saturday, February 7, 2009

Inside Edition: Events Linked to Paul Keats' Resignation

Many have wondered. We've received calls, e-mails and personal inquiries. Everyone seems to know that something unsavory went down, but no one has all of the pieces. Those at the district would rather not have the details see the light of day. They silently ask why would someone want this information?; they suggest an invasion of Mr. Keats' privacy. And while we respect Mr. Keats' needs, we have to balance those needs against them the public's right to know what in tarnation is going on at the high school.

WHY, on the cusp of opening a sparkling new high school, did Mr. Keats resign?
DID Mr. Keats resign willingly...or was it one of those backroom, "resign...or else" deals?
DID something happen that places the over 1700 kids at Sun Prairie High School in danger?

Parents have a right to know. More to the point, when you smell that aroma of doggie fecal excrement, one's natural inclination is to check one's shoes. With all that has transpired, has the district possibly stepped in it once again?

We have NO information---yet---of any personnel matter that might explain the sudden resignation of Mr. Keats. In fact, SP-EYE has no personal issues against Mr. Keats. Maybe he did something (or DIDN'T) do something that precipitated all of this. But we're bottom line people...and the bottom line is when something stinks as badly as this, the place needs to be aired out. Therefore, we have obtained the following information. It represents a very interesting and rapid-paced timeline. All have been documented. We have obtained copies. Read into it what you will.

January 12, 2009 - "Resignation Agreement" between the District and Paul Keats
This is a 6-page contractual agreement (wonder what THAT cost in legal fees!). The highlights are as follows:

  • Resignation is effective 6-30-09. Resignation is offered to either (a) accept another position in the district or (b) pursue employment elsewhere.

  • Allows Keats to prepare HIS OWN public statement regarding his resignation which must be approved by the district and shall be [emphasis added] the ONLY such statement. [exactly WHO gets to author their own resignation-related press release??!!]

  • Keats' contract and duties remain until 6-30-09, with the exception of renewal/non-renewal provisions.

  • Keats wishes to assume another position within the district. Tim Culver shall not object to Keats filling any position in the District other than a position at the high school. Yet nothing shall preclude Keats from applying for and accepting a position at the High School.

  • Assuming Keats stays on through June 2009, his health benefits will be paid through August 2009. This includes $150 per pay period he is paid in lieu of health insurance coverage.

  • The District agrees to provide Keats with a mutually agreeable reference letter on District letterhead, signed by Tim Culver.

  • Following placement of the letter of reference in his personnel file, no further documents regarding Keats' performance shall be placed into his personnel file.

  • In return for this agreement, Mr. Keats "irrevocably and unconditionally releases, waives and fully forever discharges the District [and all its agents] from all claims....", etc. [ a string of 12 nouns ensues] "of any nature whatsoever.

  • Keats agrees to use all unused vacation days prior to June 30, 2009 or forfeit them. Interestingly enough, if Keats accepts any other employment prior to June 30, 2009, he gets paid $421.91 per diem for each unused day.

  • The District signature on the agreement is difficult to decipher and there is no typewritten name or title. It is not Tim Culver's signature. It looks like it could be that of Board president David Stackhouse.

[SP-EYE: We wish Mr. Keats the very best of luck. We've also never seen such a thing as this "resignation agreement". All we can say is, "Wow."]

January 12, 2009 - Letter of Recommendation for Paul Keats from Tim Culver
Interesting. The letter is stamped "DRAFT", although a request for all final documents was made. Key excerpts from the letter:

  • "Few principals can equal [Keats] in his application of effort and attention to detail."

  • In my opinion, the following aspects of Paul's job performance have been consistently 'exemplary' [quotes appear in the original document]: [includes a bulleted list of 7 demonstrative skills]

  • Concludes with, "Paul's experience, knowledge, intelligence, and organizational skills serve as the technical foundations for a quality school administrator. I recommend him for any school management position matching the needs for these attributes."

January 12, 2009 - Letter of Resignation from Paul Keats
Key excerpts include:

  • "I believe my leadership has added to the fabric of the learning community and I am pleased of the work I have done."

  • "I look forward to the challenges that lie ahead for me. Perhaps my path will intersect with the Sun Prairie Area School District again in the future. "
January 12, 2009 - School Board Minutes of 1-12-09
The minutes of the January 12, 2009 school board meeting show that at 9:03 pm the school board moved to go into closed session "for the purpose of discussing administrative personnel issues". "The result of the vote was: Unanimous. " At 9:25 pm, the meeting was adjourned. Action take during the closed session was "TO ACCEPT THE RESIGNATION OF PAUL KEATS". The motion was made by Stackhouse and seconded by Diedrich. "Motion carried".

SP-EYE - Note that when you make a motion it means that you support the motion. The motion "carried" [emphasis added]. Note very carefully the distinctly different results of the two votes. The phrase "motion carried" usually is used to indicate that a majority (but not all) voted in favor of the motion. It CAN be synonymous with a unanimous vote, but typically such a voted would be expressed as it was on the motion to go into closed session. We suspect that one or more board members did NOT support accepting Keats' resignation.

January 13, 2009 - Letter form the District to Paul Keats
From Annette Mikula, Executive Director of Human Resources. Confirms Keats' resignation.

January 13, 2009 - Principal position opening created on the Sun Prairie website
Effective July 1, 2009.

January 26, 2009 - Keats' resignation announced via e-mail to Sun Prairie "Key Communicators" based on the Resignation Agreement, Keats clearly wants to continue on in Sun Prairie. And Tim Culver just as clearly does not want Keats at the High school. It just doesn't smell right that all these things transpired on January 12th...ONE day. We all know that our district administration and school board RARELY move at such speeds. took them a week to clear snow and ice from the SOAR sidewalk!!!!Even if Mr. Keats was just having some doubts and voluntarily tendered his resignation out of the blue (which we doubt), logic would suggest that the District would have counseled him to take some time. Not here. The bullet train immediately left the station and then the engine was sabotaged so it could not possibly start up again. So, it makes you wonder... did Keats really resign...or was this all precipitated by a notification --or a verbal discussion--in which Keats was told that his contract was not going to be renewed after June 30, 2009? As some of you know...a "Notice of Non-Renewal of Contract" must be placed on file with DPI....and THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is most certainly the equivalent of an educational arena "black ball"