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Dispute in limbo over former Pinellas superintendent's severance package

The day before she left the Pinellas County School District, former superintendent Julie Janssen said she was owed $138,000 in retirement benefits. And even though a majority of the School Board indicated it had no plans to pay her that amount, it was unclear whether that was the end of the story.

Three months later, it's still unclear.

Janssen's attorney, Ron Meyer of Tallahassee, said Nov. 18 that there is still a dispute, but also said to call back the following Monday for more information. Meyer did not return messages left for him the following Monday and Tuesday, and again on Monday and Tuesday of this week.

Pinellas School Board attorney Jim Robinson said Monday that there are no new developments. He said he has talked to Meyer once since Janssen made the claim and they "agreed to speak again if there is anything that developed."

They have not talked again, he said. Asked if there is still a dispute, he said, "I don't know."

Florida has a five-year statute of limitations over contract disputes.

Janssen's contract called for the School Board to pay her a year's salary plus benefits. She said she was owed $621,536.

A board majority conceded she was due her $203,000 salary, along with some benefits, and didn't quibble with the $199,198 she corralled in unused vacation and sick days. But it wouldn't sign off on about $150,000 of her claim.

The big ticket: $138,000 that Meyer said Janssen would have earned during one more year of employment had the district continued to pay into her state retirement fund. In September, Robinson called that claim ludicrous.

The board also said no to paying Janssen's annual communications allowance ($3,000) and car allowance ($10,800).

Janssen receives severance payments from the district every other week. To date, she has received five payments, each for $8,074. She received payment for the sick leave and vacation time on Sept. 13.

Janssen could not be reached for comment.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Ron Matus can be reached at matus@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8873.

Dispute in limbo over former Pinellas superintendent's severance package 11/29/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 9:36pm]
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