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Osseo schools cashes out superintendent's contract

Comment from Annie: If they are going to include the military and business community in the candidate pool for superintendents, maybe there needs to be a finishing school?

What can anyone say? One superintendent is a graduate of the Broad Academy and the other is a retired Air Force colonel. Doesn’t anyone at the school board use the internet?

Schools chief John F. O'Sullivan Jr. was the second Twin Cities superintendent to be bought out by a school board in two weeks.

by Norman Draper

Another controversial Twin Cities area schools superintendent just got bought out.

John F. O'Sullivan Jr., superintendent of the 21,300-student suburban Osseo district, agreed to resign Tuesday after the school board agreed to buy out his contract for a year's salary -- $150,000 -- plus some extended insurance coverage and $2,372 in unused vacation.

O'Sullivan had more than two years remaining on his three-year contract. His resignation is effective immediately.

Susan K. Hintz, district assistant superintendent of leadership, teaching and learning, was named Osseo's interim superintendent.

The settlement was announced Tuesday night at an Osseo Board of Education meeting.
Neither O'Sullivan nor board Chairman John Nelson would comment on the resignation other than to issue a brief joint statement saying that O'Sullivan and the board had "mutually decided to end their working relationship." O'Sullivan is the second Twin Cities superintendent to be bought out by a school board within the past two weeks.

Thandiwe Peebles, the embattled superintendent of Minneapolis schools, resigned two weeks ago in mid-contract, after the district agreed to pay her a settlement of $179,500.

O'Sullivan also left his previous job as superintendent of the Savannah-Chatham County, Ga., school district early. The school board of that district bought him out with 20 months remaining on a 32-month contract. The terms of his settlement with the Georgia school board require him to be paid until June 30 at a monthly rate based on his $163,200 annual salary.

O'Sullivan was named Osseo superintendent in April.

Like Peebles, O'Sullivan was often criticized on issues of style. He could be brash, abrupt and dismissive, according to some parents and teacher union representatives. A retired Air Force colonel, he also liked to be called colonel and often used military stories to make education points, a habit that irked many in the education community.

Relations with the board, which had voted 4 to 2 to hire him, deteriorated to a point in mid-December where the board delivered a 6 to 0 "no confidence" vote in him. At the same meeting where the "no confidence" vote was taken, board members delivered a scathingly critical summary of O'Sullivan's job evaluation, which was conducted in a closed session two weeks earlier.

The summary hammered O'Sullivan for alienating "most, if not all" of the "various constituent groups" he dealt with as superintendent, including "parents, members of the public, staff members, and other area superintendents." The summary further stated that O'Sullivan "has repeatedly engaged in interactions with school board members that can be deemed, at best, inappropriate, and, at worst, insubordinate." It questioned his competence and charged that he had failed to follow through on district initiatives and lacked "people skills."

In a written statement presented to the board at its Jan. 3 meeting, O'Sullivan characterized the summary as "extremely harsh" and added that "I strongly object to this treatment."

The Osseo district is the state's fifth largest, serving students in Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Plymouth, Maple Grove, Osseo, Corcoran, Dayton and Hassan.

Norman Draper • 612-673-4547

— Norman Draper
Star Tribune




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