Assistant Principal Jamil Abdul-Jabbar was paid $76,166 in the 2013-14 school year. The district renewed his contract for the next year, but cut his pay by almost $10,000, dropping him to $66,349. Ouch. Can the district do that?
It can. The key is that the district has to give the employee notice of the drop in pay prior to the penalty-free resignation date. The notice has to come from the proper source, and be sufficiently formal and specific so as to put the employee on notice.
Here, the district gave the man notice of the looming pay cut in February, 2014—well in advance of the 45-day penalty free resignation date. However, the letter from the superintendent did not tell Mr. Abdul-Jabbar exactly what his salary would be. It cited a potential range from $53,957 to $75,283. Notice that the high end of that range would still be a pay cut, albeit a fairly modest one ($883).
In July, the district provided the man with a specific figure--$66,349. This was after the penalty free resignation date, but the Commissioner ruled that the February letter from the superintendent satisfied the legal requirement. The man’s appeal was denied.
This ruling again confirms the broad authority that superintendents have to move administrative pieces around on the chess board. With timely and sufficient notice, this can even involve a cut in pay. The case is Abdul-Jabbar v. Port Arthur ISD, Dkt. No. 017-R10-12-2014, decided by the Commissioner on July 16, 2015.
DAWG BONE: CUTS IN PAY CAN HAPPEN FROM ONE YEAR TO THE NEXT, WITH PROPER AND TIMELY NOTICE.