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Tuesday, May 21
The Indiana Daily Student

city education

MCCSC board holds 48-second meeting to buy out superintendent with no replacement in sight

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MCCSC Superintendent Jeff Hauswald’s $229,000 contract buyout was finalized at a 48-second special meeting March 6, a move reportedly criticized by Indiana’s public access counselor. Now, the MCCSC has under 3.5 months to find a new superintendent for the 2024-25 school year.  

The special meeting was streamed live on YouTube, but with no sound. A transcript was posted on BoardDocs. In it, Board President April Hennessey calls the meeting to order, announces there’s no public commenters and explains that the meeting was called “to take action on Dr. Hauswald’s contract and modifications to the contract.” 

The “modifications” were not explained at the meeting, leaving members of the public who were attending confused. The board approved the modifications — a contract buyout that left the MCCSC without a superintendent for next school year at a six-figure cost — unanimously before the meeting was adjourned, less than a minute later.  

The board issued a statement after to explain that Hauswald and the board agreed to a buyout of the remaining two years of his contract. The statement did not include the $229,000 cost. Hennessey said she is contractually bound and couldn’t speak on the reason for the separation beyond the statement. 

Indiana Public Access Counselor Luke Britt told the Herald-Times that releasing a statement after an unclear open meeting defeats the purpose of the open meeting. He also criticized the lack of explanation for the district’s separation from Hauswald. 

“That's the kind of thing that needs robust discussion,” Britt told the Herald-Times. 

Hennessey said the board didn’t discuss specifics of Hauswald’s contract at a public meeting because it was a personnel issue, which is its standard policy. The board followed the advice of its attorneys, she said. 

“People are always going to want to know all parts of everything, and that is just not always how it works,” Hennessey said. “In most organizations, you do not have access to people's private personnel records. That's just the way it goes, because there are increased liabilities when you release that.” 

Regardless of why the superintendent was released, decisions regarding a new superintendent will have to be made at the next board meeting on March 26 due to timing. Hennessey said the board hasn’t decided whether they will start searching for a new superintendent or if they’ll appoint an interim superintendent. 

The board cannot enter into a contract if members are up for reelection, which Hennessey said means they would have to sign a contract “very soon” if they don't choose to hire an interim. Four members, including Hennessey, are up for reelection in November. 

Hauswald’s contract was originally approved Feb. 3, 2021. The search process to replace previous superintendent Judy DeMuth started February 2020, and stopped and started several times due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

DeMuth originally planned to retire in summer 2020, and she announced her retirement at the end of February, meaning the board would have had four months to find a replacement. However, DeMuth also stated in her letter of resignation that she would stay on until the board approved a new superintendent, giving the board some leeway on timing. This time, that leeway isn’t available.  

The timeline for hiring and search process for past superintendents isn’t clear, as DeMuth was hired one year before the board started posting meeting agendas online. 

Details about what a search process might look like are no longer available, as they appear to have been taken down after Hauswald was selected.  

Hauswald’s search process was largely conducted in executive sessions of the board, meaning prospective candidate profiles and other candidates considered are not publicly available. Some documents, such as a contract with Hauswald’s name redacted, were publicly available on the MCCSC website during the search but are no longer available. 

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