Parents in scandal-plagued Prosper Independent School District have discovered that a new contract for the district’s embattled superintendent—announced with much fanfare three months ago—doesn’t yet exist and likely won’t be “finalized” for another three months.
News of the non-existent contract comes on the heels of parents being told the district has no record of an “independent investigation” into the superintendent’s handling of an employee’s months-long sexual abuse of two little girls, which prompted a $10 million lawsuit against the district and administrators.
Despite the sex abuse scandal and ensuing cover-up that outraged the community, Prosper ISD trustees voted unanimously during a January board meeting to extend Superintendent Holly Ferguson’s five-year contract for an additional year, through 2028.
The announcement drew applause from Ferguson’s supporters at the meeting, many wearing t-shirts that read “We ❤ Dr. Ferguson.”
More than three months later, parents asking to see the new contract received this response from Prosper ISD Paralegal/Coordinator of Public Information Services Ingrid Gunter:
Dr. Ferguson’s contract referenced at the Board meeting has not yet been finalized or executed. Thus, I am unable to provide that at this time. Once it is finalized, you will be able to request it again. I believe this will happen by or before July.
The contract executed in 2022, which was provided to you, is currently in effect.
Ferguson’s current contract, signed in January 2022 and effective through July 2027, starts with a base salary of $310,000—a 19 percent raise from her previous year’s superintendent salary of $260,000.
Ferguson’s 2022 contract also included a $60,000 “performance bonus” for 2021-22, bringing her total cash compensation for the school year to $370,000, plus a retroactive $35,000 bonus for 2020-21.
So, why the rush to announce a one-year “extension” of a five-year contract, six months before the contract is expected to be “finalized” and executed?
Parents view the premature contract announcement as merely a public show of confidence in Ferguson in the face of the pending lawsuit as well as upcoming school board elections.
Trustees’ unanimous vote to extend Ferguson’s contract bolstered the perception that whatever they learned from an “independent investigation”—which was completed in January, but trustees chose to hide from the public—did not implicate her in any illegal actions alleged in the suit.
Both Ferguson and Prosper ISD are defendants in the lawsuit and are claiming governmental immunity from prosecution for their employee’s abuse of students, which was captured on bus surveillance video.
Community members have continued to express discontent with the superintendent and board for failing to hold anyone in the district accountable for the sex abuse or cover-up.
Ferguson interviewed in December for a superintendent spot with Northwest ISD (which she didn’t get), but it’s not clear how that will affect ongoing contract negotiations with Prosper ISD.
Locally elected school board trustees hire superintendents and set their salaries and other contract provisions.
Two school board seats are on the May 6 ballot, and a third seat—left vacant by the resignation of Drew Wilborn following his arrest for indecency with a child—will be filled by a board appointee following the May election.
Prosper parents and voters still face unanswered questions about trustees’ transparency and the superintendent’s status.