District: Thompson Crafted 'Elaborate, Deceitful Scheme'

Terry Thompson's $1M Retirement Payout Has Created Controversy

Wayne Township Schools has filed a civil complaint against former Superintendent Terry Thompson in the wake of his controversial $1 million retirement payout that was first exposed by RTV6.

In a brief statement, the district said that the complaint was filed Tuesday in the Marion Superior Court Civil Division.

"The lawsuit arises out of an elaborate, complex and deceitful scheme by the former superintendent of the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township to defraud the district of millions of dollars in salary and compensation," according to the complaint.

The district alleges that Thompson, through his attorneys, used multiple, complex contractual changes that were never discussed with or explained to board members to increase his annual salary from $218,000 in 2003 to $2.2 million in 2010, causing his retirement benefits to jump dramatically.

The complaint cites Thompson's move to remove the cap on sick days he could accumulate.

Also, instead of getting $57 for each unused day, as other administrators received, Thompson changed his contract to give him 50 percent of his per diem rate per sick day, which was $413 in 2005 and increased each year, the district alleges.

The district claims Thompson lied to board members, assuring them that he had only made minor revisions to his contract, while falsely telling his attorneys that certain elements had received board approval.

"The district did not learn about or fully understand the extent of the former superintendent's fraudulent conduct until after a full investigation was conducted by independent legal counsel," according to the complaint.

The board paid attorney Lee McTurnan nearly $250,000 to probe what happened with Thompson's contract. The results of the McTurnan investigation were shared with the board but not the public.

The board then hired another law firm, Pence Hensel LLC, to examine McTurnan's investigation and determine whether the district could sue in the matter.

The district directed all questions about the civil complaint to Pence. She declined to be interviewed Tuesday evening.

Thompson's attorney released a statement, saying the former administrator was "deeply disappointed to learn that the school board members he served and directed for 16 years have diverted funds needed for education to file this totally inappropriate lawsuit against him."

Taxpayers who Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney spoke to Tuesday had a mixed reaction to the lawsuit. Some said they are glad the district is taking action, but others think it is throwing money away.

Watch RTV6 and refresh this page for updates.

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