District 191 responds to Tania Chance story
Editor’s note: Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 released this statement after Thisweek Newspapers posted a story March 2 about the separation agreement between the district and former administrator Tania Chance.
Thisweek Newspapers published a story on March 2 in which the reporter states that he has received an unredacted copy of the separation agreement with Tania Chance, the former executive director of human resources for Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191.
The District did not release any data regarding the separation agreement to the newspaper. The newspaper reporter said the documents were delivered by an unknown source.
The District’s legal counsel put the newspaper reporter on notice that if he has what he believes is an unredacted version of the separation agreement, then he is in possession of data that is classified as private data under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, and is the subject of a pending opinion from the Minnesota Department of Administration, Information Policy Analysis Division (IPAD). The District asked the reporter not to release the information until after a determination from IPAD.
The District cannot confirm or deny that the newspaper has printed redacted information from the separation agreement, because to do so would release private data.
It is important to make some general comments about settlement agreements:
Complaints can be made to state agencies, and they must be accepted for processing regardless of whether or not there is any merit to the allegations. If fact, most complaints made to agencies are dismissed.
But to get a dismissal, the employer must spend significant money and time — even for claims that have no merit whatsoever. When employers are faced with potential litigation, they have to consider the cost of defense versus settlement — and that is especially true for a public school district. To do otherwise would be acting irresponsibly.
The ONLY reason the District redacted any language from the separation agreement was to protect the District from potential liability for the release of private data. If the District had not redacted the language and a determination was made by IPAD or a court that the language is classified as private data, the potential cost to the District would be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The District cannot now release an unredacted separation agreement without facing that kind of liability. IPAD will provide an opinion on or before April 17.