Education

Here’s how much the former Nashville superintendent’s retirement bonus was worth

The Washington County superintendent who retired after calls for his removal will receive a post-retirement bonus of $63,540.

The Nashville Community High School teachers union said in a statement that it wanted former superintendent Ernie Fowler to either resign or be dismissed over a controversial column he wrote for the local newspaper. It was published Aug. 30.

Fowler recalled a memory from his high school P.E. class and described a peer’s “well-developed assets which were hidden under a T-shirt with the word ‘bullets’ sprawled across the front.”

He apologized following negative reaction to the column.

“It would appear that I may have offended some people with my column last week. Let me say that, if you are one who was offended, I sincerely apologize,” he wrote. “My point of view was from a typical 15-year-old boy as I tried to show the humor in the experience.”

The teachers called the column “unacceptable.” The editor of The Nashville News also apologized after publishing the controversial column.

The union had already asked the school board to remove Fowler as superintendent back in May. At that time, they alleged Fowler hadn’t been an effective leader.

Fowler’s retirement was effective on the day he became eligible to retire: his 56th birthday, Sept. 26.

He couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

According to his retirement agreement with the district, Fowler left “due to personal and family related reasons.” He had two years left in his employment contract with the district. It was to end on June 30, 2019.

The employment and retirement documents were obtained by the News-Democrat through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The Nashville District 99 School Board agreed to pay Fowler the post-retirement bonus, as well as $54,000 for waiving his rights and claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act against the district, according to the agreement. It states that the compromise is not an admission of liability or wrongdoing.

The district will also pay for health, vision and dental insurance for Fowler and his eligible dependents — up to $1,865 per month — for four months.

His last working day at the high school was Sept. 5. He used vacation days from Sept. 6-25, according to the agreement.

Fowler’s base salary before he retired was $128,878.

The school board issued a statement this week saying that it is looking for an interim superintendent to “help guide the district financially and legally.” The teachers also stated that they looked forward to collaborating with the board in the search for the next superintendent.

In their statement, board members thanked Fowler for his service to the district since he was hired in 2015.

“We wish him well in his retirement,” the board stated.

School board members did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Lexi Cortes: 618-239-2528, @lexicortes

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