Former Pinellas schools superintendent Julie Janssen seeks another $155,000 in benefits

ST. PETERSBURG — When she was fired from her job as Pinellas County school superintendent, the School Board agreed to pay Julie Janssen her $203,000 salary for another year.

Her attorney told the district in a letter Thursday that Janssen is entitled to another $155,000.

Friday, the School Board's attorney disagreed.

"In my opinion, this claim should be disputed," Jim Robinson wrote in a memo to board members. "The contract does not support it."

Robinson said the largest chunk of extra money Janssen is after is $138,000 in "lost retirement benefits." He said Janssen would be eligible for that extra cash only if she were to continue being an employee during the next year. Technically, he said, she won't be.

The School Board is scheduled to discuss Janssen's request at its meeting Tuesday.

Janssen, 62, was fired Aug. 23, ending a three-year stint overseeing the 101,000-student district. The board voted 7-0 to terminate Janssen's contract, which expires in 2013. The board dismissed Janssen, who had repeatedly come under fire over the past year, "without cause."

The board appointed John A. Stewart, 67, as interim superintendent.

Other benefits that Janssen's attorney, Ron Meyer, says she is entitled to include a $3,000 communication allowance and $10,800 car allowance. Robinson said those, too, are available only to current employees.

In a telephone interview Friday, Janssen disputed Robinson's assessment.

"We are not asking for anything more than is in the contract," Janssen said. "It's interesting that Mr. Robinson is now thinking that it's a problem because he wrote the contract."

She added: "The bottom line is my attorney is interpreting the numbers that were given to us by the district."

A former teacher and principal who rose to the top job, Janssen said she is looking forward to taking a year off without work. Under her contract, Janssen will receive full salary for a year, plus benefits, less any amount she would earn if she lands another job. She said she hasn't decided whether or not she will continue working but has taken a few calls about the subject.

"I am taking some time with my kids. I have worked for 50 years. I have never not had a job," Janssen said. "I am going to take some time to rest, and really just exercise what options I am going to have."

This story was changed to reflect the following correction: Under her contract, former Pinellas superintendent Julie Janssen will receive full salary for a year ($203,000) plus benefits, less any amount she would earn if she lands another job.

Former Pinellas schools superintendent Julie Janssen seeks another $155,000 in benefits 09/03/11 [Last modified: Saturday, September 3, 2011 4:42pm]

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