Dr. Hobson

During her due process hearing before the Benton County School Board on Monday, Dr. LaKimberly Gallager-Hobson denied intentional wrongdoing in overpayments received from the school district and asked to be reinstated as superintendent of education.

ASHLAND • After placing her on administrative leave for more than a week, the Benton County School Board has officially terminated their contract with former superintendent of education Dr. LaKimberly Gallager-Hobson.

School board attorney Lori Shaw confirmed Gallager-Hobson’s termination in an email to the Southern Sentinel.

Shaw wrote that Gallager-Hobson was notified of the termination of her contract on Thursday, Sept. 17, via her attorney, Lindsey Dowdle.

The board voted to end Gallager-Hobson’s contract during an executive session that followed a due process hearing last week, but didn’t announce their decision following that session. The board had 10 days following the hearing to finalize their decision.

According to Shaw’s email, the board delayed announcing their decision to give Gallager-Hobson notice and to prepare a written opinion from the board.

Confirmation of Gallager-Hobson’s firing comes after weeks of dispute between herself and the board over a demand letter from State Auditor Shad White’s office to repay $30,500 in alleged salary overpayments during her time as the county’s assistant superintendent of education, plus an additional $4,074 in interest and investigative fees, which resulted in her being placed on administrative leave.

During a due process hearing before the school board, last week, Dowdle argued the board knew or should have known the details related to Gallager-Hobson’s contract as assistant superintendent and therefore the auditor’s findings should not serve as the basis for a termination.

Gallager-Hobson was hired as the district superintendent in December and took office in January. When she accepted the position of superintendent, Gallager-Hobson said she requested a salary of $150,000. She told the school board she would manage the responsibilities normally delegated to a curriculum coordinator, saving the county money. She felt the additional responsibilities would justify a higher salary.

During last week’s hearing, Dowdle read copies of emails between herself and Shaw in which she stated that she understood her salary from January until June 2020 should be $87,500, which would increase to $115,000 in July 2020.

Hobson claimed she received no more correspondence about her salary and knew nothing was wrong until the state auditor visited the school district office in June to investigate the salary overpayments.

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