Moffat County schools, superintendent part ways effective immediately |

Moffat County schools, superintendent part ways effective immediately

Eli Pace
Joel Sheridan, left, addresses the Moffat County Board of Education on Monday after the board voted to appoint Sheridan as the interim superintendent.
MCSD via Zoom

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include details from the separation agreement and to clarify that the school board issued a statement in a news release Monday night, in addition to including an “agreed statement” in the separation agreement.

Citing irreconcilable differences, the Moffat County Board of Education has decided to end Superintendent Scott Pankow’s employment with the district.

In a 6-1 decision at a special meeting Monday night, school board members approved a separation agreement with Pankow. During the meeting, school board president Jo Ann Baxter said Pankow had already signed the document.

Board member JoBeth Tupa cast the dissenting vote. Before the board’s decision, some school board members expressed their displeasure with the situation.

“I just want to say, I’m not a fan of this, but I can’t always have it my way,” Krystal Fedinec said. “I have lost a lot of respect for some of mankind at this point, but I think we have to look at the big picture and do what’s best for our students more than anything. Like I said, I’m not a fan, but I’ll do what’s best for the school for our kids.”

Fedinec wasn’t alone with her frustration as board member Cindy Looper added that she too was not happy it had come to this.

“I don’t think any of us are happy that it’s come to this, and our unhappiness varies from person to person,” Baxter told her colleagues. “Some people are not happy with the settlement agreement. Some people are not with the performance of the superintendent, but we still have to think in terms of what Krystal said about going forward for our school district and for our community and, most of all, for our students.”

Made available to the Craig Press by the school district Tuesday morning, the severance agreement details how Pankow will receive a severance payment of $130,000, in addition to $6,747 for his remaining unpaid vacation days.

Moffat County Superintendent Scott Pankow.

Under the agreement, the district is not liable for any additional benefits or compensation arising from Pankow’s employment with the school district. In return, Pankow voluntarily submitted his resignation and waived a number of his rights with respect to his employment and separation with the district.

The agreement includes Pankow’s resignation letter and an agreed upon statement that was to be read after approval of the separation agreement.

After the decision at Monday’s board meeting, the school board issued a news release that echoed much of the agreed statement included in the severance agreement.

“Mr. Pankow’s departure was not related to any sort of gross misconduct or behavior issue, but is simply the result of irreconcilable differences between him and the board of education,” the news release reads. “Personnel issues are complex and require delicacy, and the board will not comment further on the reasons for the separation.”

In the release, the board members continued by saying they “expect and hope that Mr. Pankow will find future success elsewhere as his career continues. As we have said previously, every decision we make is with the successful education and nurture of our students as our guiding directive, and this is no different.”

In subsequent actions, the school board voted unanimously to appoint Joel Sheridan as the interim superintendent and then approved a firm to conduct the search for a permanent replacement.

In the news release, the school board commended Sheridan, a Craig resident who previously served the district as principal of the high school in the 1990s and as assistant superintendent in the 2000s.

According to the board, Sheridan’s contract extends through June, though that timeline could be extended as the district searches for a permanent superintendent.

“In the meantime, we are grateful for Dr. Sheridan’s willingness to step in and be a bridge to our future,” the news release states.

Accepting the interim role, Sheridan told the board he believes better communication can solve many problems. He promised to work to ensure the district meets state and federal requirements, while “setting the table” for the next superintendent and leadership team.

Pankow’s departure comes with just weeks remaining in the school year. The last day of school for Moffat County students is May 26 and graduation is set for May 28.

The following “agreed statement” was included in the separation agreement between Moffat County School District Superintendent Scott Pankow and the board of education. After approving the separation agreement, the school board issued a similar statement Monday night via a news release.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, the board of education has just approved an agreement ending the district’s employment of Mr. Scott Pankow as superintendent of schools. Both Mr. Pankow and the board believe this agreement is in the best interest (of) the district and its students, as well as our community.

“The board believes that a change in leadership of the district is necessary but wishes to emphasize that this decision was not based on any allegation or finding of misconduct against Mr. Pankow. Any rumors or speculation circulating in our community to that effect are false.

“Although the board and Mr. Pankow have decided to part company, the board thanks Mr. Pankow for his service to the district and wishes him well in his future endeavors.”

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