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Fact check: Superintendent's separation from District 11 costs taxpayers more than $300k

Dr. Michael Thomas separation agreement: 14 months of pay + benefits
Dr. Michael Thomas
Posted at 12:12 PM, Mar 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-03 22:02:14-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — News 5 learned Wednesday evening that Superintendent Dr. Michael Thomas separated from District 11 effective March 2. Records obtained by News 5 show the "amicable" separation will cost taxpayers in that district more than $300,000.

"Recently, Colorado Springs School District 11 Superintendent Dr. Michael Thomas met with D11 School Board President Dr. Parth Melpakam to discuss the district's vision and direction guided by the Board of Education," a BOE statement said. "Through that discussion, Dr. Thomas expressed a desire to pursue a mutual, amicable separation that would benefit all parties and the broader community. Further discussions ensued resulting in a mutual separation agreement."

You can read the entire statement from the Board of Education here.

DISTRICT 11.PNG

"The terms of the mutual separation agreement include 14 months of severance compensation and health benefits for Dr. Thomas," the statement said.

Calculating the money:

Records obtained by News 5 Investigates show Dr. Thomas' contract was just renewed in July 2021 for a three-year term.

His current salary is $260,649.

If you divide $260,649 by 12 months (1-year), Dr. Thomas' monthly salary (before taxes) is $21,720.75.

14 months of payments at $21,720.75 equals $304,090.50.

This dollar figure does not include the benefits Dr. Thomas will also be entitled to under the separation agreement.

"The District shall pay to Dr. Thomas each month the amount required for premiums for COBRA coverage to keep in place the Health, Dental, Vision, Life and Disability Insurance Benefits for a period of fourteen months," the separation agreement states.

Specific details regarding Dr. Thomas' departure:

While Board of Education meetings are public and most records can be obtained under the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA), personnel matters are discussed in executive sessions and those meetings are not public record.

What records related to this case are available to the public?

Employment contracts are public record. You can view Dr. Thomas' contract renewal here.

Dr. Thomas' separation agreement from the district is also a public record. You can read this agreement in its entirety here.

Dr. Thomas' payroll records and timesheets are also public record.

Stipulation in the separation agreement:

Dr. Thomas signed a separation agreement that includes a clause that waives his right to a jury trial should he file a lawsuit in the future.

"Dr. Thomas understands and agrees that any action or claims arising out of or relating to this agreement shall be heard only by a judge and not by a jury and that Dr. Thomas is giving up his right to have any such action or claims heard by a jury," the agreement states.

Have a story idea for News 5 Investigates? Email us: News5Investigates@KOAA.com