We all know that superintendents generally enjoy a lot of flexibility in assigning and reassigning staff. That’s usually part of the superintendent’s job description. Professional contracts customarily include the statement that the employee understands that he or she is “subject to assignment or reassignment.” But are there any limits on that authority?
This is being litigated in the case of Jenkins v. Crosby ISD. This case began when the superintendent moved a principal to an assistant principal position. Ms. Jenkins objected, and challenged the authority of the superintendent to make such a move. The argument was based on the theory that “principal” and “assistant principal” are not within the same “professional capacity.”
Ms. Jenkins lost the argument at T.E.A. and appealed that decision to Travis County District Court. Now, she has lost at that level also. The judge, without a written explanation or analysis, simply affirmed the ruling of the Commissioner. The superintendent did not violate Texas law, did not change the “professional capacity” of Ms. Jenkins, by moving her from the principal’s job to an assistant position. The judge affirmed the Commissioner’s ruling that the term “professional capacity” is broad enough to include both positions. Any further appeal of this case would go to the Court of Appeals, and that would take some time.
While this case supports the notion of broad authority for the superintendent, it is always wise to talk to your school attorney before ordering a reassignment that might be legally challenged. The legal analysis needs to take into account a number of factors that should be looked at on a case by case basis.
DAWG BONE: PRINCIPAL TODAY; ASSISTANT TOMORROW. SAME PROFESSIONAL CAPACITY.