KEARNEY — After resigning his post as superintendent of Kearney School District this month amid controversy related to his legal battle against a DUI, Matt Miller received a lump sum severance payout of $188,640 from the school district. He will not receive additional retirement benefit payments. Miller has faced legal and public scrutiny since March after allegedly wrecking his car and being arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence while at the Lake of the Ozarks for a state school district administrator association conference. Resignation & severance details Miller submitted his resignation, saying it was effective July 1, in a one-sentence letter dated July 8. The school board accepted the resignation in a closed session this month. In a letter to families and district patrons, the district announced Miller’s resignation July 14. “The Board of Education will be appointing an interim superintendent as soon as possible,” states the district letter. “We will also prioritize identifying, vetting and selecting a candidate for the permanent superintendent position. This process will be done in collaboration with our staff, students, families and community members.” School Board President Mark Kelly told the Courier-Tribune a number of factors went into consideration of the severance agreement. Considerations, Kelly said, included amounts of pay and benefits in Miller’s original employment contract and the lack of criminal guilt involved at this point. “We would have paid more than that because there is an additional contribution that goes to the teacher retirement system as well, so it’s not a dollar for dollar reflection of what his salary was per year. The length of his contract, for up to three years, was what was taken into consideration; with that, as well as the fact that there was never any formal charges made against him and he certainly has never been found guilty of anything,” Kelly told the Courier-Tribune Tuesday, July 20. According to Miller’s hiring contract, he received $180,000 for the 2020-21 school year and was to be paid between 1 and 10% more in the 2021-22 school year based on his performance and to receive another 1 to 10% increase for the 2022-23 school year. According to that contract, employment was contingent upon “maintenance of a satisfactory criminal and child abuse/neglect records report.” Since Miller’s arrest In May, the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office filed a criminal charge of driving while intoxicated against Miller related to his initial arrest March 26. However, the following day, the charge was removed from Missouri’s online court records. Calls to the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office as to why the charge is not in Missouri court records have gone unreturned. Miller himself has not commented publicly on the legal case since an initial statement released immediately following his arrest. In that statement, Miller said he was contesting the matter and since has filed legal paperwork claiming arresting officers made an improper arrest and that he did not refuse a chemical test. “I understand that the incident will create questions and concerns, and I want to be transparent with our school community,” he wrote in his initial public statement. “I deeply regret that this situation has developed and understand it may serve as a distraction to some of our students, staff and community members.” When asked by the Courier-Tribune if a code of conduct violation occurred given the legal matters facing Miller and if severance was justified, Kelly said, “All parties considered all issues that were involved.” “You had to take that into consideration in reaching a mutually agreeable resolution,” he said. Members of the public have questioned why there was a lag in the time the district made the announcement of Miller’s resignation, which occurred July 14; the date of the resignation letter, on July 8; and the effective resignation date, July 1. “Any agreement with someone of Dr. Miller’s age, he has to have a week to consider it and withdraw it; that’s part of that,” Kelly said, citing fair employment and labor requirements. “And, (he) can take up to 21 days to consider whether he accepts it. Even after he signs it, there’s another week that passes before it’s final, if you want to call it that. That’s when it’s binding on him.” Legal battle According to court documents from Camden County, during the March investigation, Miller was located around 1 a.m. walking in the roadway after crashing his Lincoln into a telephone pole’s support cables. Deputies contend Miller admitted to consuming alcohol before driving and crashing his car and then refused a breathalyzer. A warrant was then executed to test his blood, which was drawn during his arrest. The documents are part of Missouri Department of Revenue court exhibits filed in Miller’s lawsuit. The department’s exhibits include a crash report, probable cause statement and photos from the crash scene. Miller’s attorney, Fawzy Simon, argues the arresting officer did not have “reasonable grounds to believe that (Miller) committed any offense while (Miller) was driving a motor vehicle upon the public highways of this state.” Simon also contends Miller did not refuse to submit to a chemical test and that the officer did not “properly request (Miller) to submit to a chemical test.” Since Miller’s arrest, some Kearney district patrons and parents have criticized the school board, saying board members and Miller have been attempting to sweep the matter under the rug, leading to a public perception of lack of integrity in the district. Some, in speaking with the Courier-Tribune, also accused Kelly of representing Miller in his legal matters. Kelly, who has his own legal practice based in Liberty, said he would not represent Miller as that would be a conflict of interest and those believing or spreading those rumors are misinformed or “liars,” he said. District moves forward In the superintendent resignation announcement to families last week, the district said its top priority is to “ensure that teaching and learning continue uninterrupted.” “Kearney School District remains among the best public education providers in the region, state and nation. We boast innovative and caring teachers in every classroom. They are supported and led by a cohesive, dedicated team of school administrators. We are constantly amazed by our talented students and their achievements. Our parents and guardians, family members, government officials, business leaders and community are fully invested as partners in education. Bulldogs are resilient, strong and smart, which is why we will continue to grow and thrive in Kearney School District,” states the district letter.

Matthew Miller

Managing Editor Amanda Lubinski can be reached at 903-6001 or @myCTAmanda1 on Twitter.

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