Sheesh-O-Meter!! Beware of funky contracts….

Mr. Schumann’s contract with the school district had some provisions you don’t normally see in such a document. To wit:

*In the event of a reassignment, there would be no reduction in pay from the six-figure salary he had as the superintendent’s Chief of Staff.

*He could be terminated only for an intentional violation of the Educators’ Code of Ethics.

*If the superintendent was ever placed on administrative leave, or left the district, the employee could 1) continue to work under the contract; 2) resign within 45 days and receive one years’ salary at the next pay period; or 3) enter paid administrative leave status for 180 days, with all communication between the employee and the district in writing while the employee would be required to work no more than three hours, one day a week.

I’ll bet you Smart and Loyal Daily Dawg Readers can guess what happened next. The superintendent resigned just two months after this contract was signed.  Mr. Schumann chose to stay on board, which was the first of his three options.  Thus he maintained his hefty salary.

I’ll bet you Smart and Loyal Daily Dawg Readers can guess what happened next! The district reassigned him to Transportation Supervisor, and reduced his salary by $84,067.60.  That’s not a typo, nor is it his new salary.  It’s the amount of the reduction.  Five months later, the district voted to terminate the contract altogether.

I’ll bet you Smart and Loyal Daily Dawg Readers can guess what happened next!! Litigation!!  Remember: the contract gave him the option to stay on board; it prohibited any reduction in salary; and it permitted termination only for an intentional violation of the Code of Ethics. So the case really hinged on the validity of this unusual contract.  The district argued that the contract was not binding on the district, that the superintendent had gone way overboard, way beyond his authority by entering into such a contract.

Did the superintendent have that authority?  Well…that depends on the superintendent’s contract.  The superintendent’s contract gave him sweeping power to employ personnel without board approval.  Moreover, the contract specified that if there was a conflict between board policy and the contract, the contract prevailed.  

This all ended up in the Commissioner’s lap and he ruled that the district breached a valid contract by reducing the man’s pay, and by terminating his employment.  The Commissioner found that the sweeping language in the superintendent’s contract gave him the power to include some unusual provisions in the contract for his Chief of Staff. What about the fact that some of those provisions violated board policy?  The Commissioner said this:

The contract itself, which was signed by the Board President and attested by the Board Secretary, states that if there is a conflict between the contract and board policy the contract controls.  Thus, the contract creates exceptions to board policy. Is not an exception to a board policy, created by the Board itself, a board policy?

Mr. Schumann was not entitled to get his “Chief of Staff” position back because this was a non-Chapter 21 contract, and so he was not entitled to remain in the same professional capacity.  But he won on the big issues. The district was ordered to restore his full pay, including backpay, and keep him employed until the contract is properly terminated, he resigns, or the contract expires. 

It’s Schumann v. South San Antonio ISD, decided by Commissioner Morath on March 22, 2021 in two separate decisions, one dealing with the reduction in pay, and the other dealing with the termination of employment. They are Docket Nos. 051-R10-08-2020 and 048-R10-07-2020.


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Tomorrow: transgender students, their names, and a teacher’s religious beliefs….