Payouts to Concord superintendent, principal exceed $250,000

Monitor staff
Published: 11/11/2019 5:36:18 PM

(Update: School board member Chuck Crush clarified Tuesday that the reference letters mentioned in Sica and Forsten’s severance agreements will only include general information, like their dates of employment with the district and their job titles. They will not be “letters of recommendation,” Crush said.) 

Former Concord schools superintendent Terri Forsten and former Concord High principal Tom Sica were paid a combined $259,494 last week as part of their severance packages following their resignations from the Concord School District.

Forsten was paid $109,597.25, a combination of her salary and unused vacation time through June of next year, according to an agreement between Forsten and the district. Sica was paid $139,897.56, a combination of his salary and unused vacation and sick time through Feb. 21 of next year, according to his and the district’s agreement.

The payouts were made in addition to the money Forsten and Sica received while on administrative leave during an independent investigation into their handling of reports of misconduct by a former teacher. Sica made around $50,000 during a span when he was said to be on a voluntary leave of absence, but continued to work away from the high school, and then when he was put on paid leave by the board. Forsten made at least $10,000 in just over a month of paid leave starting in late September.

As part of their agreements, both Forsten and Sica are specifically not allowed to speak about any student or personnel records, including information related to former teacher Howie Leung, who is accused of raping a former student. If they do, they will lose all of the benefits and payments they received as part of the severance agreement.

Additionally, Forsten, Sica and the district agreed to not sue each other as long as the terms of the agreement are obeyed. Forsten and Sica also cannot “disparage” the Concord School District. In turn, the district will not disparage Forsten or Sica.

“They shall continue to speak civilly,” the agreement reads.

Both formal severance agreements were signed by the administrators and Concord School Board President Jennifer Patterson. The agreements were provided to the Monitor by Stephen Bennett, a lawyer from Wadleigh, Starr & Peters, who was hired by the board to help conduct the independent investigation.

Forsten’s agreement is dated Nov. 1. Sica’s is dated Nov. 4.

The agreements state that Sica and Forsten are allowed to ask former colleagues in the Concord School District for letters of recommendation. The school board agreed to provide references to both Sica and Forsten within the last week, which they can choose to use or not as they search for new jobs.

Forsten’s agreement does not detail how her letter of reference will be written. Sica’s agreement stipulates that the “specific language of the letter of reference will be negotiated in good faith between the parties.”

School board member Chuck Crush clarified Tuesday that both Sica and Forsten’s reference letters will only include general information, like their dates of employment with the district and their job titles. 

Crush said that he and other board members have requested to review the letters before they are sent out. Forsten and Sica are to receive their references from the board within 10 business days of signing their severance agreements.

Forsten will have access to her medical benefits for up to 18 months while she obtains a new job where she is eligible for similar medical benefits. If she finds a job where she needs to complete a probationary period before becoming eligible for new medical benefits, access to her Concord School District benefits will extend until after the probationary period is completed.

Sica will have access to medical benefits through June 30, 2020.

While information about Sica and Forsten’s severance agreements are public, the Concord School Board has not disclosed why Forsten and Sica were removed from their roles in the district. A 100-page investigative report that examines the district’s response to complaints of inappropriate behavior by Leung, who was arrested in April on charges of raping a former Concord student, has not been made public.

Sica, who was principal of Rundlett Middle School in 2014, came under fire after it became known that he had accused a middle school student of spreading “malicious and slanderous gossip” for saying that Leung showed favoritism toward certain female students and crossed boundaries.

Forsten, who was not superintendent at the time of that suspension, came under increased scrutiny after it was learned that Leung was able to remain at the school for three and a half months after several students saw him kissing another student in his car.

The Concord School Board announced the resignations of Forsten and Sica at two meetings on Nov. 1 and Nov. 4.

Both administrators had been placed on paid leave on Sept. 27 after receiving the report, which was completed by Djuna Perkins, a Boston-based attorney with extensive experience working with schools on sexual misconduct cases.

Although the public was told only that Forsten and Sica were on paid leave, the Concord School Board had voted in a nonpublic meeting on Sept. 25 to terminate Forsten and Sica’s employment with the district.

The minutes of that Sept. 25 meeting were unsealed at the Nov. 1 and Nov. 4 meetings and show that the board was unanimous in its decision.

Patterson said at a Nov. 4 school board meeting that by law, the board could not immediately disclose that they had voted to terminate Sica and Forsten because they had to wait for a resolution between the district and the former administrators.

Had the district and Sica and Forsten not resolved the matter of their employment by agreement, the terms of their contract and state law would have required a hearing before the board, the state board of education, and, if necessary, an appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, Patterson said.

Forsten’s salary through June 30, 2020 amounts to $97,376.00. Her vacation buyout was $12,221.25.

Sica’s salary paid was $42,589.54. His sick time payout was $75,827.22. His vacation payout was $21,480.80.

Vacation and sick time payouts are governed by contract, according to Larry Prince, Concord School District’s director of human resources. Forsten and Sica would have to have been paid regardless of any settlement agreement.

  In the agreement, Sica and   Forsten agre ed to cooperate with the d  i strict “its agents and counsel to defend against any claims, actions, suits or demands made against the District, its School  Board and/or its employees and arising from events which occurred during her employment with the  District.”

Forsten and Sica are required to return all badges, keys and equipment belonging to the district.

Forsten was employed in the Concord School District for four years. She was hired in 2015 after serving as superintendent in Laconia. Sica was employed in the Concord School District for 17 years. He was hired in August 2002.

 Read the agreements

Forsten and Sica’s severance agreements are attached below. 




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