Police report, emergency personnel meetings preceded Springston's resignation

The resignation agreement between the Park Hill School District and superintendent Scott Springston gives little insight into the 44-year-old’s sudden departure last month, but a February police report stemming from a disturbance at his Weatherby Lake, Mo. home indicates that he might have been consuming alcohol on the job. The Park Hill Board of Education held special unscheduled meetings concerning “personnel matter” on April 7, 8 and 9, according to minutes from those sessions obtained through an open records request. The board held another meeting on April 13 to authorize the resignation agreement with Springston and place him on administrative leave through June 30, 2015.

The board also accepted Springston’s request to resign on June 30, 2015 and named Dr. Jeanette Cowherd as acting superintendent at that fourth meeting, which began at 4:30 p.m. The district sent out a press release concerning Springston’s resignation, citing “health-related matters” at 6 p.m. that night.

Springston did not comment in the release, and he loses all health benefits from the district upon resignation, according to the confidential agreement document between him and the district obtained through an open records request.

According to the agreement, Springston was placed on paid administrative leave and will also receive more than $25,000 in accrued but unused vacation pay. The district also agreed to keep his personnel file confidential and will not disclose it unless compelled to by law.

The confidential agreement also states that Springston and Park Hill can refer to the end of his employment as “terminated by mutual agreement of the Parties,” but that it “shall not be construed as an admission of liability or wrongdoing” for either side.

The resignation agreement came less than two months after a Springston’s wife called police on a Tuesday afternoon, according to a police report. Officers arrived at about 4:09 p.m. and were on the scene for about 21 minutes at the family home.

According to the report, Leah Springston had been involved in a verbal altercation with her husband for about an hour prior to the call. She said he came home from work intoxicated that day and added that she believed he had issues with alcohol.

According to Leah Springston, Scott Springston had been drinking more of late “due to stressors at work and dealing with the school board.”

Although Scott Springston left the residence prior to the officers’ arrival, Leah Springston wanted to permanently remove him, claiming the verbal altercations were ongoing. The Springstons' daughter also indicated to police that stress on her father included her brother “drinking and wrecking his car” the previous night.

No charges have been filed against Scott Springston, but 18-year-old Cade Springston faces a misdemeanor charge of exceeding the posted speed limit by 20 to 25 miles per hour in Platte County Circuit Court. That charge was filed on April 27.

Scott Springston came to the district in 2012 as a controversial choice.

A group of concerned patrons favored an internal candidate, but the board voted 5-2 to offer Springston a contract without conducting public interviews of the finalists for the job. He came to Park Hill after serving as superintendent of the Valley Center (Kan.) District near Wichita.

In the press release confirming Springston’s resignation, the district noted that he “led the district in its efforts to provide professional studies programs to prepare students for college and careers, to develop a long-range facilities plan, to make the district more efficient with taxpayer dollars, and to teach students 21st-century skills.” The board unanimously voted to extend his contract through the 2017-18 school year in early March.

A month later, Springston’s tenure suddenly ended.

Regardless of the reason, the first special meeting without notice happened on Tuesday, April 7 with six board members present with the reason listed as “a personnel investigation requiring immediate attention.” The session lasted nearly two hours. The full board met the next day for more than 2½ hours to continue the personnel investigation.

On April 9, the board, which included an outgoing member following the April 7 election, first authorized the resignation agreement with Springston and to place him on administrative leave.

The district’s legal counsel advised the April 13 meeting to allow the new board, which included recently elected Karen Holland, to ratify the action. Holland abstained from all three votes, and the motion again carried.

All six members present then accepted Springston’s request to resign and placed Cowherd, an assistant superintendent, in charge for the interim. She has been in the district for 10 years, previously serving as a building administrator.