South Dakota paid $337,000 in severance to past two Board of Regents executive directors

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Board of Regents dropped Mike Rush and Paul Beran without cause, triggering severance provisions in their executive director contracts, KELOLAND News has found.

Rush, whose departure was announced in April 2018, received six months of severance pay totaling $168,037. His last annual contract was for $378,815 and was to run through June 21, 2018. He returned to Idaho.

Beran, whose departure was announced in March 2020, received six months of severance totaling $169,125. His last annual contract was for $338,250 and was to run through June 21, 2020. He returned to Arkansas.

Neither submitted a letter of resignation.

The regents hired Brian Maher in June 2020 to follow Beran. The former Sioux Falls school district superintendent’s current pay is $329,280. His current annual contract runs through June 21, 2022.

Nathan Lukkes, the regents’ chief legal counsel, confirmed that Rush and Beran weren’t fired for cause. The regents reportedly conduct annual evaluations.

The regents govern part of South Dakota’s public higher-education system and two specialty K-12 schools for students with visual and hearing difficulties. The state universities are in Brookings, Vermillion, Madison, Aberdeen, Rapid City and Spearfish, as well as joint campuses in Sioux Falls and Rapid City.

South Dakota voters in 2016 established a mechanism for a separate governing panel, the state Board of Technical Education, to oversee public technical colleges in Watertown, Sioux Falls, Mitchell and Rapid City.

The regents’ then-president, Kevin Schieffer of Sioux Falls, issued a statement of the board’s expectations for Beran in August 2018.

That came just months after Beran had been hired. John Bastian replaced Schieffer as board president in 2020. Schieffer has since left the board.

Michael Rush 2015 original contract (see sections 8, 9 regarding termination.)

Paul Beran original 2018 contract (see sections 5, 6 regarding termination.)

Brian Maher original 2020 contract.

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