Reward Without Review

In absence of a school board meeting this week, I will discuss some of the ongoing questions that remain about whether annuities have been inappropriately paid to Richland 2 Superintendent Katie Brochu, the School Board’s evaluation of her performance and her apparently incomplete Dec. 5, 2012 response to the Board’s evaluation of her.

While some details have emerged, most of my questions go unanswered.

Here’s what we know:

Brochu’s contract calls for annuity payments of approximately $17,000 to be paid to her each January following a satisfactory review by the Board. While not a single satisfactory review of Dr. Brochu’s performance was completed by the Board, it has now been confirmed that the annuity payments were, indeed, paid to Dr. Brochu three times.

When asked about this discrepancy, Board members tell me that they have sought legal advice and are prohibited from discussing the matter at this time.

Dr. Brochu was hired March 23, 2010, yet the Board didn’t conduct their first (and only) performance evaluation until Oct. 22, 2012. Six weeks after that evaluation, on Dec. 5, the Superintendent delivered her response to the Board.

That response, as we now know, did not include the required “comprehensive professional development expense report,” yet her response was enthusiastically accepted in an online statement from then Board Chairman Chip Jackson on Dec. 14, even though the Board had not even met.

So how did the Board discuss Dr. Brochu’s response and formulate an acceptance of that response if they had not met? Was this Jackson’s personal response without input from the Board? Plus, it is important to note that Dr. Brochu’s response was incomplete in that it lacked the comprehensive professional development expense report that was required.

Even though Board Members initially reported that they had received a 75-page response from Dr. Brochu that included a 25-page report on the District’s underperforming schools and a comprehensive professional development expense report (assumed to make up the remaining 50-pages of the response), no Board member was able or willing to produce the comprehensive development expense report for inspection.

After submitting a Freedom of Information Act request for the comprehensive report, the District gave me a 147-page report that was not a comprehensive professional development expense report but a list of financial data that is incomplete in its content, listing expenses without the name of attendee, date stayed and sometimes not even the name of the hotel, etc.

This lack of information renders the ‘report’ meaningless and suspect. I expect to have more on the inadequacies of this financial listing in coming weeks.

Although, to date, the Board has not discussed the Superintendent’s response to their evaluation, they have scheduled a work session in March that is purported to include such a discussion.

But it is likely that the reasons why the School Board chose not to give Superintendent Katie Brochu either of her first two reviews and have declined the opportunity to tweak any of her initiatives will remain hidden in executive session discussions involving “personnel issues.” And I might note that ‘personnel issues’ alone is not provided for under the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act as a reason to go into executive session.

The reason must be more specific.

Contact Stevie Johnson at

[email protected]

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