Tunnell, school board execute detailed separation agreement

By Larry Tucker
Posted 8/29/19

The full and final resignation and separation agreement between Mineola Superintendent Dr. Kim Tunnell and the Mineola ISD was made public last Friday morning by the district.

The agreement stated …

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Tunnell, school board execute detailed separation agreement


The full and final resignation and separation agreement between Mineola Superintendent Dr. Kim Tunnell and the Mineola ISD was made public last Friday morning by the district.

The agreement stated the district and Tunnell “voluntarily execute this Full and Final Resignation and Separation Agreement with the express intention of settling and extinguishing all obligations, demands, claims, causes of action, and liability of whatever nature arising from the Superintendent’s employment with, resignation, and separation from MISD. This Agreement is entered into on behalf of MISD, its trustees, officers, employees, agents, attorneys, heirs, and successors, and Tunnell, her agents, attorneys, affiliates, heirs and successors.”

The agreement stated “it is strictly the voluntary act of Tunnell to voluntarily resign her employment as superintendent of the district because Tunnell believes it will be in her best interest and that of the district to voluntarily resign her position as superintendent of the district effective on the resignation date (Jan. 31,2020).”

There were 18 different sections to the agreement ranging from the resignation, severance payment, to the non-disparagement portion.

Tunnell will receive $117,771 in severance pay which represents 10 month’s salary and full contractual benefits. All appropriate federal and employer withholding shall be deducted from Tunnell’s monthly paychecks and from the settlement payment. The parties further agreed that no TRS contribution will be deducted from the settlement payment.

In the non-disparagement portion, all parties involved agreed not to make disparaging remarks about the other party, their agents, representatives or attorneys. They also agreed to make a joint statement. The parties further agreed that no party shall ever make statements or references that they “won,” “prevailed” or “were prevailing parties” or any similar statement.

The district and the board, individually and collectively, agree to refrain from making negative comments regarding Tunnell to others, including potential employers. Tunnell agrees to refrain from making negative comments regarding the district and its administration.

In another section of the agreement, Tunnell and the district agree and acknowledge that nothing contained in the agreement constitutes any wrongdoing by either party.

Section 13 of the agreement explained the agreement contains the entire understanding between Tunnell and the district. This agreement supersedes any prior written agreement or oral agreements. It states “this agreement shall not be modified, amended, or terminated unless such modification, amendment, or termination is executed in writing by Tunnell and the district.

The agreement in Section 14 further says Tunnell represents and certifies she has carefully read all of the agreement; understands its provisions; has not been influenced to sign this agreement by any statement or representation by the district that is not contained in this agreement; has had an opportunity to consult with her attorney prior to the execution of this agreement; and enters into this agreement knowingly and voluntarily.

Included in the agreement was Tunnell’s letter of resignation, an MISD joint statement of the board of trustees and Tunnell and a letter of recommendation from MISD Board President Dr. John Abbott.

In the joint statement, the district listed several of the numerous accomplishments and achievements made by the district while Tunnell has been superintendent.

In the joint statement, Tunnell thanked the present and past Board of Trustees for providing her with the opportunity to serve the MISD. Tunnell further expressed her heartfelt appreciation to the staff and community for their support of the district’s programs and services during her term as superintendent. Also in the joint statement, the board extended its “best wishes” to Tunnell in her future endeavors.

The letter from Abbott was a glowing recommendation of Tunnell. In the first paragraph it said, “Dr. Tunnell has exhibited commitment and dedication to the Mineola ISD vision and goals. She is a collaborative servant leader and has created a fresh new approach to team management and leadership. She is an accomplished educator and highly supportive of rigorous student learning and quality teacher development.”

The letter further went on to say, “During her tenure in the school district, Dr. Tunnell has admirably provided her leadership to the district under increasingly difficult economic circumstances while maintaining qualified staff and quality instructional programs and initiatives.”

Abbott went on further to write, “She handles school district matters with poise and diplomacy. Dr. Tunnell leads by example and believes strongly in preserving the respect and dignity of every individual.”

Abbott’s final words in the letter state, “I highly recommend Dr. Tunnell for any position of responsibility, most especially as school superintendent. In conclusion, I know you will come to admire her dedication to children and learning as I do.”

At press time, the board was set to meet Tuesday for discussion on a procedure for hiring an interim superintendent. The agenda calls for an executive session immediately following the invocation, pledges and introductions. The board will reconvene from the executive session and consider information and action on items discussed in the session.

There is no agenda item for public input or open forum.