Stillwater school board settles suit with former finance director

Stillwater school board settles suit with former finance director

The Stillwater university district and its former board chair have settled a lawsuit filed by its previous director of finance and functions, Kristen Hoheisel, agreeing to shell out her $475,000 in lost wages, damages and lawyers service fees extra than two yrs just after she was fired.

The settlement contains a occupation recommendation for Hoheisel from Stillwater Superintendent Michael Funk as very well as a assertion from the current board expressing they think Hoheisel was undertaking her job adequately and should really not have been terminated.

“The [board] assertion was pretty significant to me,” Hoheisel stated Friday. “The total case was never about money to me. It was far more alongside the lines of seeking to not only clear my title but salvage what I could of a standing that experienced been wrecked.”

Hoheisel was director of finance and operations for Stillwater Area General public Educational institutions at a time of political turmoil, a lot of it the fallout from a 2016 district choice to near three schools in the northern part of the district in get to fund wants in the promptly escalating southern part, together with Lake Elmo and Woodbury.

The final decision introduced condemnations from inhabitants who had earlier supported a bond referendum that they imagined would strengthen the shuttered educational facilities, and for yrs afterward a feeling of betrayal was evident in elections and social media commentary. A team of dad and mom contacting themselves 834 Voice unsuccessfully sued the district, alleging among the other matters that Hoheisel and her husband had undisclosed conflicts of fascination. A district court choose later dismissed these promises.

Hoheisel, speaking Friday, said she believes now that the school closures drove a movement to specific revenge on the district, and her large profile place was drawn into the political morass. “I have never seen it as a political posture, but I recognize that it is,” she said.

Hoheisel submitted a hostile do the job environment criticism in 2017, expressing she was subject matter to gender discrimination and harassment by two members of the university board. Hoheisel alleged in her match that a third-celebration investigator located merit to the complaint but that the board took no action. Hoheisel then filed a next complaint in 2020, and about a month afterwards was positioned on compensated administrative depart.

She filed accommodate in opposition to the district in May well of that 12 months, alleging open up meetings legislation, whistleblower, and info procedures act violations.

The fit alleged that previous university board member Sarah Stivland violated the state’s open meetings legislation by, between other things, not placing the board into closed session through preliminary thought of allegations in opposition to Hoheisel. It also reported Hoheisel was positioned on administrative depart shortly soon after reporting a hostile operate surroundings, a violation of the state’s whistleblower statute. The suit also claimed the board was careless in discussions about an investigation of a district staff to the position that the community would identify that employee as Hoheisel, a violation of the state’s authorities data safety act.

4 months just after Hoheisel filed the lawsuit, the faculty board voted 4-1 in shut session to hearth her.

The settlement, which was introduced Monday in a specific conference of the Stillwater University Board, integrated a statement from the existing board customers that claimed Hoheisel’s termination happened “in the midst of ongoing political turmoil.”

“The present school board thinks that Ms. Hoheisel was doing her task obligations sufficiently in the midst of a hard political surroundings for workers and does not guidance the work steps taken by that board,” the assertion examine.

Hoheisel’s lawsuit experienced been scheduled for a pre-demo hearing on Friday in advance of the settlement was introduced.

A contact to Stivland’s cell phone was not answered Friday, and there was no selection to leave a concept.