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Toledo district will pay principal in separation deal

Sun., Aug. 26, 2012

Reynolds had been suspect in wife’s death

TOLEDO – The Toledo School District will pay Ron Reynolds a total of $140,000 over the next three years in a separation agreement approved Thursday. Reynolds will resign his position as elementary school principal effective Aug. 31 and will not be transferring to another position within the district.

“We have his keys and a letter of resignation,” Superintendent Sharon Bower told the Chronicle. “We’re ready to focus on students and learning.”

Reynolds will start receiving monthly payments in September. Bower said paying the $140,000 will not affect any of the district’s services or benefits.

“That’s the benefit of paying over three years,” Bower said. “It has far less impact on our students.”

Reynolds has remained on paid administrative leave since October 2011, when a coroner’s inquest jury identified him and his son Jonathan as suspects in the December 1998 shooting death of his wife, Ronda Reynolds, a state trooper. Ronda Reynolds was found by Ron Reynolds dead with a gun in a closet at their home.

The district wanted to fire Reynolds, who has been the principal at Toledo Elementary School since 1997, due to performance issues even though the Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer declined to file charges against him because there was insufficient evidence to obtain a conviction.

Reynolds and his lawyer, Rick Cordes, fought the termination, originally asking for nearly $400,000 for five years of Reynolds’ $79,324 annual salary plus benefits because they did not believe the district had probable cause for the firing.

During the period of alleged poor performance, Reynolds produced strong state standardized test scores, according to Cordes. And, even if Reynolds had done a poor job, Cordes said the school had not given him a fair chance to improve.

Instead, Cordes implied that the district wanted to fire Reynolds due to the negative publicity surrounding the death of his wife.

“There was a perception in the community that he was no longer a principal that fit the needs of our students,” Bower told the Chronicle.

The district has been negotiating a separation agreement to get rid of Reynolds since this spring.

Because the district could not officially open Reynolds’ position before he resigned, Lisa Hull, the principal at Toledo High School, transferred to the elementary school position as the third leader there this year.

The district has also hired a new interim high school principal to replace Hull. Martin Huffman, a superintendent and principal from the Lyle School District, began his position in July. Now that negotiations with Reynolds are complete, the district can decide if they want to renew Huffman’s one-year contract this spring.


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