Lawmaker Seeks 'Teeth' For Superintendent Law

New Law Institutes More Transparency, Accountability

A new law institutes more transparency and accountability when it comes to superintendent contracts, but the author of the legislation maintains the law needs more teeth.

The Legislature passed the law in response to a Call 6 Investigation that exposed former Wayne Township Schools Superintendent Terry Thompson's $1 million retirement payout.

Public Law 148-2012 went into effect July 1 and affects every school district in the state.

The Indiana School Boards Association and Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents are distributing materials telling school districts how to implement the changes.

Under the law, school districts negotiating a superintendent's contract must hold a public meeting at least seven days before signing the contract.

The school district also has to let people know about the meeting on their website and in the newspaper.

The contract must disclose the full financial implications for each year of the contract, including salary, car allowance, insurance benefits and other perks.

Law sponsor State Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, said that while a citizen can use the law to file a civil suit, there are not currently any penalties for school districts that don't comply.

"We don't have a whole lot of provisions for abusers," Behning said. "I think the next session we'll probably have to look at that and see what kind of provisions we can put in place if a school board just blatantly ignores what has been put in place."

Behning said possible sanctions could include voiding a superintendent's contract if a district doesn't follow the law.

After the Call 6 Investigators broke the story of Thompson's retirement payout, the school board filed a civil lawsuit against Thompson alleging he defrauding the district.

The lawsuit is still pending.

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