Ms. Uranga’s two-year contract as CFO came to an abrupt halt when the district terminated it without notice or a hearing. It seemed pretty simple. Ms. Uranga had a Chapter 21 contract, and all such contracts required SBEC certification. Ms. Uranga was not SBEC certified. Simple, right?
Not so fast. At the time of Ms. Uranga’s termination, the district’s local policy required that all Chapter 21 contracts be held by SBEC certified people. But that’s not what the policy said when Ms. Uranga came on board. At that time the policy said:
NO CERTIFICATION REQUIRED
Educator term contracts [meaning: Chapter 21 contracts] shall also be provided for the following positions for which neither SBEC nor the District requires current SBEC certification: chief financial officer/business manager.
So at the time of hiring, the district specifically authorized a Chapter 21 contract for this position and did not require SBEC certification. Then it changed the policy, declared Ms. Uranga in violation of that policy, and terminated her employment.
That did not work. The Commissioner pointed out that “A school board has a right to modify a contract by changing board policy, but there are limitations to that right. The modification cannot change the general purpose and effect of the contract.” Key Quote:
Respondent applied the amended Policy DCB(Local) to Petitioner’s contract in mid-term at the time of the amendment, substantially changing the purpose and effect of the contract and, in fact, destroying it. Termination of Petitioner based on the modification of Policy DCB(Local) and Texas Education Code Section 21.0031 was a breach of Petitioner’s contract and caused her financial harm.
The case is Uranga v. Culberson County-Allamoore ISD, decided by Commissioner Morath on June 20, 2018. It’s Docket No. 015-R10-11-2017.
DAWG BONE: EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS INCORPORATE DISTRICT POLICY AS OF THE TIME OF EXECUTION OF THE CONTRACT.
Tomorrow: intro to Toolbox Tuesday!