District 15 board puts Saxton on paid leave while reviewing HR director allegations

St. Francis School District Superintendent Ed Saxton has been placed on paid administrative leave, effective Jan. 21, as the school board investigates allegations made against him by the former director of human resources who Saxton dismissed with a letter Jan. 8.

Ed Saxton
Ed Saxton

While the superintendent is officially on leave, Director of Community Education Troy Ferguson has accepted a role as interim superintendent, which was confirmed by School Board Vice Chairperson Marsha Van Denburgh after a closed board session Jan. 21.

The board was also meeting to discuss and investigate the employment of David Lindberg, the director of human resources who was hired by the district in July 2011.

In a letter that he distributed to school board members before a regular meeting Jan. 13, Lindberg said that Saxton handed him a final paycheck along with a dismissal letter Jan. 8, but Lindberg vowed to not deposit or endorse the check until after an appeal.

Lindberg said Saxton’s action without explanation or a hearing Jan. 8 was a violation not only School District 15 board policy, but also a Minnesota statute that protects honorably discharged veterans who have held hired or appointed positions with school districts, cities or counties. Lindberg is an Army combat medic veteran who served in Baghdad, Iraq, from March 2003 to April 2004.

On Saxton’s suspected motivation for issuing his dismissal, Lindberg cited multiple instances in which he had challenged the superintendent’s leadership style and decisions, both in writing and verbally.

Saxton has served as District 15 superintendent since 2003, receiving a three-year contract extension last June. He previously served as a principal at St. Francis High School.