Off Contract And At Will

There’s an old saying that people use when they want to tell someone to do what they are tasked to do, or move on so someone else can. Maybe someone could help me remember?

It might be of interest to the people of Louisiana that Superintendent of Education, John White, is now on his 14th month of working month to month (off contract) per the terms of his contract which expired January 11th, 2016. For a better understanding of what this means, I’ve included an excerpt from Revised Statute 17:21, down below. This statute addresses the Superintendent of Education. (Click here to read the full contract)

Note that the position of superintendent is appointed by a 2/3 vote of the full membership of BESE. The board is required to enter into a contract, and in the 3rd sentence, it states, “The length of the contract shall be determined by  the board but may not extend past the term of office of the board members making the appointment, except that the contract may provide that the superintendent may serve until the succeeding board has made an appointment.”

 

The details of Supt. White’s contract do include this language in Section One; however, the provision adds that justification for this is in Section Seven.

This section does not apply to the provision that the superintendent may serve until another superintendent is appointed. In fact, it is specific to the Board’s desire to terminate the contract due to an unsatisfactory evaluation, or some other just cause. The contract is expired. John White is an “at will” employee. The only provision in the contract that still applies is the one stating he can serve until another person is appointed. It is not a justification to remain in the position indefinitely without the confines of a contract. There is a basic assumption in the statute that if the board has not renewed the superintendent’s contract, then a search for a new superintendent is underway. There is not.

So why hasn’t the superintendent’s contract been renewed? We can make some pretty accurate assumptions. Offering a contract renewal would require eight of the eleven BESE members to vote in favor of renewing. Why hasn’t it been put on the agenda? Because someone believes that they don’t have the votes. I think they are probably right. Why isn’t a search underway for a new superintendent? Because someone, some group, needs him in place for three more years, or until the makeup of the board changes. They believe they are justified in this because of statute and the contract. Maybe so. Who knows? The language isn’t clear, and legal action would be costly.

Here’s what I do know. The rules of order that open meeting laws require public bodies to follow state that any seated board member can request an item to be placed on the agenda, and it must be done in a timely manner. It’s that simple. Let’s get this ball rolling. Contact your BESE member and ask them to put it on the agenda.

Board Member Email District
James D. Garvey, Jr. James.Garvey@la.gov 1
Kira Orange Jones Kira.OrangeJones@la.gov 2
Sandy Holloway sandy.holloway@la.gov 3
Tony Davis tony.davis@la.gov 4
Gary Jones gary.jones@la.gov 5
Kathy Edmonston kathy.edmonston@la.gov 6
Holly Boffy Holly.Boffy@la.gov 7
Jada Lewis jada.lewis@la.gov 8
Thomas Roque thomas.roque@la.gov At Large
Lurie Thomason lurie.thomason@la.gov At Large
Doris Voitier doris.voitier@la.gov At Large

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