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Dawn Greene and Supt. Scott Miller

Hammond school district chooses transparency in termination of assistant superintendent

Contributed By:The 411 News

Former employee refutes allegations of wrongdoing

Terminations of public school employees don't usually play out in the press. Exceptions involve teacher layoffs as their unions object to the cutbacks and negotiations make the headlines.

In what seems to be a nod to transparency in Hammond, the school district is not hiding from the public its allegations of misconduct by one of its top administrators. On May 28th the Hammond school district released a statement to the media on why it terminated associate superintendent Dr. Dawn Greene along with its request for a State Board of Accounts investigation into her actions as head of human resources.

At its meeting 10 days earlier on May 18, the Hammond Board of School Trustees accepted Greene's letter of resignation without any explanation given of the reason for the resignation.

The statement said School City of Hammond Supt. Scott Miller discovered information on May 17th that prompted Dr. Greene's resignation and termination.

According to the district's release, "During the 2019-2020 school year, Dr. Greene received payments for stipends in the amount of $11,055.84. During the 2020-2021 school year, Dr. Greene received payments for stipends in the amount of $31,128.66."

Those stipends totaling $42,184.50, the release said, were not presented to the Board of Trustees for approval and "were entered into the system under Dr. Greene’s authority in a manner not consistent with internal control procedures."

It was also discovered that Dr. Greene authorized stipends for principals David Verta and Michelle Ondas that totaled $33,802.48 each. Those stipends, the statement said, were not presented to the board and not consistent with internal control procedures.

The statement did say, "Mr. Verta and Mrs. Ondas did complete significant additional work for the consolidation of schools and neither party was consulted about the amount of these additional stipends."

The usual case for officials under fire has been to remain silent. Dr. Greene has not. The same day the district's statement appeared in our region's two daily newspapers, Greene disputed the findings in the Post-Tribune. She said Supt. Miller had approved the stipends.

"For them to accuse me of this is almost slanderous. Superintendent Miller gave permission for me and Dave and Michelle to have stipends," the Post-Tribune article stated. "Greene said when she told Miller he had approved the stipends, he told her he didn’t recall making the approval."

At the June 1st school board meeting, Dr. Greene and the investigation were not on the agenda. Two members of the public brought it up during the meeting's public expression portions, telling Supt. Miller they didn't believe his version.

Paul Buck told the board, "Somebody approved the stipends. I believe she is being thrown under the bus. It's more to this story than is being told."

Wilma Reed said, "How did you not know. It's almost impossible for that kind of money to slip through without you knowing."

Following the meeting, Supt. Miller said, "Dr. Greene did tell the board in an email the principals' stipends would be about $1,000 a month. I didn't know she would make it almost 3 times that much."

The superintendent said it wasn't a matter of miscommunication between him and Dr. Greene. "Emails can't be deleted. They can be found."

Supt. Miller hired Dr. Greene in 2019 from the East Chicago school district, where she was an assistant superintendent. Miller said he regretted their relationship was ending.

Stipends were on the agenda and the board approved them. Supt. Miller said the district had reached an agreement with the teachers union to receive a portion of COVID-19 stimulus funds. Each teacher will receive a $3,000 stipend.

Story Posted:06/07/2021

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