The Riverside Elementary School District 96 Board of Education reportedly has reached a tentative agreement to have former Superintendent Jonathan Lamberson pay back some money that he allegedly was overpaid during his tenure at District 96.

The school board hopes to approve the agreement at its March 17 meeting. But before any agreement can be approved, the Illinois Teachers Retirement System (TRS) must also approve the agreement.

“Any agreement with Dr. Lamberson is very contingent on the approval of the Teachers Retirement System, and at this time we are subject to their time frame,” said Mary Rose Mangia, the president of the District 96 school board. “There has not been a final sign off. We have a framework of an agreement with basically two out of the three parties.”

The school board, through its attorneys, has been negotiating with Lamberson for months. District officials contend that Lamberson was paid more than his contract called for while he was the superintendent of District 96. The district had to pay a little more than $77,000 in penalties to the TRS when Lamberson retired in 2013 because, according to TRS calculations, Lamberson received more than the 6-percent maximum raises allowed for pension purposes.

Lamberson, who left District 96 in 2013, has spent the past two years working as a superintendent in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. Recently the Cedarburg school district announced Lamberson would be retiring at the end of the 2014-15 school year, when his two-year contract expires, to move to the Minneapolis area to be closer to his daughter and grandchildren.

The investigation into Lamberson’s alleged overpayment has been expensive and time consuming.

According to legal bills obtained by the Landmark through a public records request, the district estimated that it has paid $42,675 in legal bills relating to the Lamberson matter through Jan. 13, 2015.

“So much of it goes into number crunching,” Mangia said.

The district paid $157,681.29 in legal fees for all matters to the law firm of Franczek Radelet in the last six months of 2014.

The legal bills show frequent and sometimes lengthy phone conversations between Mangia, school board Vice President Rachel Marrello and the district’s attorneys over the past year.

For example on April 3, 2014, attorney Shelly Anderson billed $605 for a 2.20 hour “telephone conference with Board of Education president and vice president regarding [redacted].” 

Two days later, Anderson billed $110 for a 24-minute conversation with Mangia. The next day Anderson billed $385 for a 1.4-hour telephone conference with the board president and superintendent. 

And, on April 9, 2014, Anderson billed $742.50 for a 2.70 hour conference with Mangia and Marrello. The very next day there was a 1.80 hour conference between Anderson and Mangia costing the district $495. 

One day later, on April 11, 2014, Anderson billed the district $357.50 for a 1.30 hour conference with Mangia and Marrello. 

According the district’s response to the Landmark’s public records request, not all the time billed for a telephone conference is for time spent on the telephone. Some, or much of time billed for a telephone conference, could have been spent preparing a memorandum concerning the subject discussed on the telephone with board members, the district said.

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