Former USD 231 Superintendent Bill Gilhaus wasn’t available for comment after a divided school board terminated his contract on Feb. 27.
He released a statement, the following day, however, saying the board’s action came on the heels of a favorable annual evaluation.
“While my efforts have always focused on the best interests of the district, for the first time in my career, I recognize a need to speak on my own behalf,” Gilhaus said in a written release.
The statement also noted that the vote to terminate his contract and the contracts of administrators Lana Gerber and Christy Ziegler was taken despite the school attorney’s advise that action at the special meeting may not be legal.
“No means or due process and no cause for separation was provided,” Gilhaus said in his statement.
Gilhaus served as USD 231 superintendent for 10 years. His contract was not set to expire until the middle of 2016. It included an option to extend it by one year in March.
During a Feb. 10 board meeting, members agreed to delay any discussion about a one-year extension until May.
Gilhaus’ contract stipulated an annual salary of more than $173,000; an annual contribution of $34,000 to a tax-sheltered annuity; and an annual car allowance of $9,600.
The board could terminate the contract if the superintendent breached it, if the board did not have sufficient funds to pay the salary stipulated, if the superintendent was incapable of performing his duties due to illness or accident for more than six months, or if the superintendent engaged in conduct that would constitute good cause for the termination of a teacher.
According to the contract, if misconduct was the basis for termination, the board would first provide the superintendent with written notice of the grounds of termination, and allow an opportunity for him to respond to the notice in an executive, or private session.
The contract also requires that prior to termination, written notice of a breach of contract must be given with a “reasonable opportunity” for the breach to be cured.
Super says firing was without due process