By Houston Chronicle
“Hey boss, I quit. Now, pay me for the next two years of work I’m not going to do.”
Try that line out where you work and see where it gets you. Hard to imagine that logic paying off — unless you’re a disgraced executive at the Katy Independent School District.
Superintendent Lance Hindt, who’s spent the past few weeks fending off accusations that he bullied fellow students when he was a youngster, will walk away from his job with an eye-popping severance payout. The blame lies not with the outgoing superintendent, but with the Katy Independent School District board of trustees. Voters need to remember that elected school board members have squandered three-quarters of million taxpayer dollars, money they could’ve put to better use hiring a new superintendent.
In case you haven’t followed this story, it all began with an accusation from a businessman who appeared at a Katy ISD meeting and accused Hindt of bullying him decades ago while they both were in junior high school. After the accusation attracted nationwide attention, a circuit court judge in Alabama who went to high school with Hindt said the superintendent had been a “vicious bully” who used to brag about beating up people.
Hindt responded by sending a letter to the district’s employees, apologizing for the negative attention the controversy generated, admitting he did “dumb things” when he was young and decrying what he described as distortions of the truth. But his letter offered no apology to the men he was accused of bullying, and the allegations continued to generate a firestorm of criticism.
Last week, Hindt dramatically announced his resignation, citing a “relentless smear campaign” against him. The KISD board of trustees was outspoken in its support of Hindt; it was already taking the bizarre step of hiring a law firm to pursue a possible defamation case against citizens complaining about him. After Hindt announced his resignation, the board amended his contract and decided to give him a whopping severance check equivalent to two years of his salary: $750,000.
Let’s put that in context. That’s more than the Astros are paying Carlos Correa the year after he helped Houston win the World Series. More important, $750,000 would pay the annual salaries of more than a dozen Katy ISD teachers. Unlike Hindt, they would continue working for their pay.
Katy ISD has struggled with a big spending reputation after it built a $70 million football stadium, which was originally budgeted at $99 million. Voters had to look past that when they rightly approved a $609 million bond issue last year. Next time Katy ISD trustees face re-election, voters need to hold them to account for the check they wrote to an employee who’s walking out the door.