Burnsville schools give HR chief $255,000 to go away

Nickalas Tabbert

 Burnsville school district's human resource director has been paid an unusually large severance to leave just seven months into a new contract, the Star Tribune said Wednesday.

Tania Chance, who resigned in January, had only worked for the district for 18 months when the settlement occurred.  She will receive a severance package of nearly $255,000, equivalent to her $136,273 annual salary, sick leave, vacation time, insurance and other benefits for the next 18 months, according to the agreement.

As part of the package, Chance agreed to dismiss any claims against the district regarding human rights violations, equal employment issues, age discrimination or civil rights complaints.  The settlement includes a provision that the district will provide two letters of recommendation for Chance to any future employer.

Portions of the separation agreement provided to the Star Tribune by the school district were redacted as they contained private personnel data that could not be disclosed or described.

District officals said Chance was not disciplined during her tenure and is not the subject of any formal complaints.

The agreement makes it clear Chance was not fired, but it appears she stirred controversy from the start, the Star Tribune said.

Chance, a self-published author, posted a YouTube video some considered in poor taste because it appeared to show Chance pouring several shots of liquor and downing the drinks very quickly.

School board chairman Ron Hill said several employees approached board members about the video, asking that Chance be ordered to remove it, the article said.

"I saw it and was just shaking my head," said Darren Byrnes, former webmaster for the district.  "It just seemed really out there.  She's supposed to be representing the district and she was out there doing shots."

Chance did not return phone calls or an e-mail seeking comment, the Tribune said.

No one at the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District would comment what prompted the district to carryout the agreeement.

The settlement was unanimously approved by the school board late last month.  Such settlements have rarely been above $200,000.

"I think it's unusual. … Is it excessive? I don't know," said Ken Dragseth, a former Edina superintendent and partner at a search firm that handles superintendent and administrative hires.  "This doesn't happen every day."