West Ada, Clark reach $160,000 settlement

The highly public split between the West Ada School District and former Superintendent Linda Clark was settled this week — to the tune of $160,000.

The settlement resolves all legal claims between the parties, including a lawsuit that Clark had threatened to file against the district where she had worked for 37 years.

Linda-Clark-Resigns-as-West-Ada-Superintendent
Former West Ada Superintendent Linda Clark

“I’m just glad to have the issue resolved,” Clark told Idaho Education News Friday morning.

Clark declined to discuss further details, referring questions to her attorney, Erika Birch of Boise.

The nine-page settlement, obtained Friday afternoon by Idaho Education News, sheds additional light on the events that transpired after Clark’s abrupt and highly public Oct. 23 resignation.

In November, shortly after voting to terminate Clark’s contract, trustees filed a complaint against Clark with the state’s Professional Standards Commission, which reviews ethics complaints against teachers and school administrators.

Russ Joki
Russell Joki

Then-trustee Russell Joki signed the complaint. The complaint mirrored issues raised when trustees terminated Clark’s contract, said Birch. Trustees said Clark engaged in politicking while on the job, before abandoning the district’s post in the middle of a contract year.

The PSC dropped the matter on or about April 1, according to the settlement, after finding no probable cause “to warrant a filing of an administrative complaint.”

While the PSC considered the district’s complaint, Birch drafted language for a potential federal lawsuit. The suit was never filed, but in early March, Birch sent a draft of the lawsuit to district officials and district attorney Breck Seiniger.

The settlement was then negotiated by Birch and legal staff for Idaho Counties Risk Management, a casualty insurance pool for local government entities.

Payments will come from ICRMP, and not from the district’s budget.

Clark herself will receive $136,799, with the balance going to her attorneys.

Clark’s share of the settlement is less than the 11-year superintendent would have earned under her district contract. For 2015-16, Clark stood to receive a $143,475 salary, plus some $30,000 in paid benefits.

Clark signed the settlement this week. Joki and former trustee Julie Madsen also had to sign on with the settlement — even though they have resigned from the school board.

Joki and Madsen both denied any wrongdoing.

“My signature above reflects the understanding that 100 percent of the funds paid in accordance with this agreement will be paid by ICRMP,” Madsen said in a handwritten addendum to the settlement. “I was not consulted prior to its development and adamantly deny any allegations contained herein.”

While the Clark settlement closes the books on one chapter in the West Ada dispute, another issue remains unresolved. On May 17, voters will decide whether to recall school trustees Tina Dean and Carol Sayles, who also signed the settlement.

Joki and Madsen had also been subject to the recall before resigning.

More reading: Click here for an in-depth look at the West Ada dispute. And more coverage from the Idaho Statesman, which first reported on the settlement.