Kyle Wood received bonus pay for meeting all of the Bixby school board’s annual objectives in the days before he was forced out as superintendent amid a public scandal.
And he became eligible for state retirement the same day the school board revealed it was investigating an “incident” later revealed to be a student’s alleged rape with a pool cue by his high school football teammates at Wood’s own home.
The superintendent’s most recent employment contract, a public record obtained through a Tulsa World request, included four annual management objectives for which Wood could receive a $1,000 bonus for each.
Doug Mann, the Bixby school board’s contract attorney, confirmed that in the days just before his resignation agreement was approved, Wood received a total of $4,000 for meeting all four of those objectives, as well as a $2,000 one-time stipend received by all Bixby Public Schools employees.
The resignation agreement calls for Wood to receive his full salary and benefits through Oct. 31, 2018.
Annual employee reporting information by Bixby Public Schools to the Oklahoma State Department of Education shows Wood’s base salary is $166,663, while his total fringe benefits are $18,633, for a total of $185,296.
That means Wood stands to receive another $154,413 in salary and benefits through regular payroll periods through October, plus a lump sum payment of $12,615 for unused sick days and vacation in January.
Grand total: $167,028.
The bonuses demonstrate how quickly things devolved behind the scenes in the six weeks since Nov. 9.
That was the night the school board held its first special meeting to discuss its confidential investigation. And at a regular meeting that followed the same night, the board voted to approve the “successful completion” of all four of its objectives for Wood.
It was also Wood’s 52nd birthday.
After Wood’s attorney, Paul DeMuro with Frederic Dorwart Lawyers, issued a news release Tuesday stating that Wood was both resigning and retiring, the Tulsa World contacted the Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System.
Tom Spencer, executive director of OTRS, said a cursory check of the program’s public records shows that Wood is “just now eligible to retire” because of his recent birthday in November.
Spencer explained that when Wood became a member of the state retirement system for public school educators in 1989, the “rule of 80” applied. That states that a client may retire with full benefits at age 62 or when their age and years of service add up to 80 or higher.
That means with 28 years’ service, Wood became eligible for full benefits when he turned 52 years old on Nov. 9. Wood’s attorney declined to answer questions about his client’s specific retirement plans.
It is not uncommon for Oklahoma school districts to pay a price when school boards break with superintendents mid-contract. Wood’s most recent contract was signed in January and was set to run through June 2020.
In April 2016, the Oklahoma City school board entered into a separation agreement with then-Superintendent Rob Neu that included three months’ salary, plus a lump sum of $75,000.
In June 2016, the Sapulpa school board terminated then-Superintendent Kevin Burr after four years on the job, with 12 months’ severance pay.
And in December 2016, the Broken Arrow school board struck a mutual separation agreement with then Superintendent Jarod Mendenhall that included $103,100 for six months’ pay and unused vacation, plus nearly $11,500 for the cost of health insurance.
The Bixby school board has indicated that Wood’s resignation agreement may be just the first of its actions.
“The board will continue to make disciplinary decisions as it deems necessary based on the results of its internal investigation,” Board President Ron Schnare said at the conclusion of a special meeting Tuesday.
A 16-year-old high school student reportedly told law enforcement investigators he has twice been attacked with a pool cue, on Sept. 27, as well as an undisclosed date in 2016, by his Spartans football teammates at team functions held at Wood’s house.
Multiple sources with direct knowledge of the situation have told the Tulsa World that nearly 10 Bixby High School football players were benched or kicked off the team for the remainder of the season amid the allegations.
But until Tuesday, no action had been taken on the employment status of any district officials, despite indications that law enforcement is investigating school officials for possible delays in reporting the assault allegations.
Law enforcement obtained search warrants to seize school district records, the emails of Wood, Bixby High School Principal Terry Adams, Athletic Director Jay Bittle and head football coach Loren Montgomery, as well as cellphones of the superintendent, principal, athletic director and four juvenile suspects.
The search warrants, filed in Tulsa County District Court, stated that probable cause had been shown that the various items are “subject to search/seizure upon one or more grounds as it contains evidence relating to a violation of” state statutes on first-degree rape, failure to report child sexual abuse, conspiracies thereof, and/or accessory to said crimes.
“It is unclear when school officials reported this sexual assault of a child to the authorities, although it was certainly delayed for days,” a law enforcement officer wrote in the search warrant affidavit. “It certainly appears that any reporting of the incident was significant and has caused difficulty in the investigation, especially including the inability to preserve evidence. It also appears that there may have been some initial effort by one or others to not report the incident at all.”