Former Oak Harbor superintendent gets $600K severance from Snoqualmie Valley School District

Lance Gibbon will receive $600,000 from the Snoqualmie Valley School District.

Lance Gibbon, the former superintendent of Oak Harbor Public Schools, will receive $600,000 from the Snoqualmie Valley School District in exchange for his resignation last month, according to a settlement agreement obtained by the Snoqualmie Valley Record.

Board President Melissa Johnson and members of the school board addressed their decision to part ways with Gibbon earlier this month in a letter sent out to district families. The letter said the board unanimously moved to negotiate a settlement agreement, but did not disclose the terms of the deal.

The letter said the board did not take the settlement lightly, acknowledging the payments necessary to reach an agreement were not without impact and could cause concern. Essentially, the district will have $600,000 less for students in the classroom.

“(The settlement) speaks to the seriousness of our concerns about the amount of damage we felt that Dr. Gibbon could have done had he been allowed to stay,” the letter said. “Quite frankly, it would have hurt worse to allow the district’s hard-won culture of excellence to deteriorate under his leadership.”

When asked how they arrived at the $600,000 figure, Johnson told the Snoqualmie Valley Record the board is unable to discuss the specifics of the negotiations, but said they believe a fair settlement was reached.

“At all times during the negotiations, the board had the best interest of both the district and, most importantly, the students in mind. We are unanimous in our firm belief that removing Dr. Gibbon from his position was the correct decision,” Johnson wrote in an email. “The board considers this matter closed and is looking forward to working closely with Interim Superintendent Dan Schlotfeldt.”

Under the deal, Gibbon will receive payments in three installments over the next nine months, with over half of the funds due by next February. The total $600,000 payment is due near the end of September.

The massive settlement appears to reflect Gibbon’s expected income had he stayed with the district for the remainder of his contract, which was not set to expire until the end of next school year.

During the 2021-2022 school year, Gibbon had the 13th highest base salary among all Washington public school employees, making $290,000 annually, despite the fact that the district is relatively small, according to data from the Washington state Superintendent’s Office.

The agreed upon figure was about $200,000 greater than a settlement reached in the nearby Monroe School District this past July. Monroe’s superintendent, who made roughly $250,000 annually, received a $396,374.55 settlement, according to the Everett Daily Herald.

Gibbon signed the four-page settlement agreement on Nov. 14, agreeing to resign and not sue the district. His separation was made official a day later.

Gibbon’s separation came less than two years after he was hired via a nationwide search. He had spent the prior eight years as superintendent of the Oak Harbor School District.

In an email to the Snoqualmie Valley Record earlier this month, Gibbon said while he respects the board’s right to choose its own leadership, he noted it was “disappointing that the board chose to resort to allegations and personal issues” in its letter after they had “already reached an agreement for an amicable separation.”

Gibbon went on to call it a privilege to serve the district and its students.