The Blaine County School District and former Human Resources Director Shannon Maza have settled out of court for $125,000, breaking her contract three weeks early and quashing a pair of potential lawsuits against Superintendent GwenCarol Holmes alleging bullying and slander, according to a separation agreement finalized by both parties last week.
On Friday, Holmes informed district staff that Maza’s employment had been terminated effective “immediately.” Maza, whose contract was not renewed by the trustees in May, was scheduled to leave the district when her current employment term expired at the end of the month.
(Though last week’s agreement states the Maza’s deal ends in 2020, a copy of the employee contract provided by her attorney, Fritz Haemmerle, shows her work term ending in 2019. The district confirmed the error.)
The announcement came three days after a 4-0 vote by the district’s board of trustees agreeing to a personnel separation agreement for an unnamed employee following a closed executive session on Tuesday, June 11. (Trustee Rob Clayton abstained.)
The agreement states that Maza’s employment ended June 11.
Last week, Maza declined to comment on the agreement, referring the Idaho Mountain Express to Haemmerle.
“I’m sworn to confidentiality on this one,” Haemmerle said Friday.
The district, too, was prohibited from commenting further, spokeswoman Heather Crocker said.
The “global settlement” covers both “employment related” and “non-employment related” matters between Maza and the district.
Earlier this year, Maza notified the district of her intent to file two lawsuits against Superintendent GwenCarol Holmes: one alleging slander stemming from a performance review on Jan. 29, 2019; and, a second claiming “harassment and bullying” in response to three internal grievances filed by Maza resulting from her independent investigations into possible inappropriate behavior at Wood River High School.
Neither claim resulted in a court filing.
Now, it looks like they never will. As part of the agreement, Maza agreed to drop all internal grievances, legal claims and filings with the Idaho Human Rights Commission related to the School District.
In exchange, she’ll receive payment for the rest of June, plus all benefits, accrued time and paid vacation in addition to the lump sum. Between salary and benefits, Maza made $166,310 during the last 12 months, according Crocker.
The district will also fund “a minimum” of two third-party personnel investigations into allegations levied by Maza against current district employees.
One involves Maza’s son, Turner, a 2017 graduate of Wood River High School. During a school board meeting on May 14, Turner Maza told the trustees that he and a friend, a student at the time, were propositioned by a female staffer after driving the woman home from a party in Bellevue on June 2, 2018.
In an interview with the Idaho Mountain Express last month, Shannon Maza said she brought the allegations to administrators at Wood River High School the following Monday, June 4. Both Mazas said that neither they, nor the other witness, who hasn’t come forward, were contacted by the district during its investigation.
At the time, Crocker told the Idaho Mountain Express that the district fully investigated Maza’s claim. Citing Idaho code, Crocker declined to comment on details of the investigation, its findings or whether any disciplinary action came from the case.
“The district conducted a full investigation, and is prohibited from saying anything further about students or personnel matters,” Crocker said in May.
Maza's second complaint involves two unnamed district employees.
This time, both Mazas will have the option to speak directly to the investigator, and Haemmerle will be able to present evidence against the employees in question, according to the terms of the agreement.
Since Idaho law protects public-school personnel files, any findings will be presented only to district administration, legal counsel and, if disciplinary action is required, the school board.
One thing Maza won’t get is the apology she demanded in an interview with the Express following the May 14 meeting. On that, the agreement is very clear: It represents “a compromise,” and not an admission of responsibility or wrongdoing by either party.
And, it required a “positive announcement” of the personnel change, which was jointly drafted and attached to the agreement.
Last Friday, Holmes delivered it, word for word.
“The District is commencing the process of determining what personnel steps it needs to take in the Human Resources Department,” Holmes told district staff in an email on Friday morning. “Ms. Maza will be moving on to new employment opportunities. The Board wishes to thank Ms. Maza for her whole-hearted years of service to the District.”