Posted 11/12/2012 12:00 am
It looks like the former superintendent of the Pine Bluff School District isn’t going away quietly.
Jerry Payne is suing the school district for firing him from his $145,000-a-year job even before he reached his one-year anniversary.
Payne said in the lawsuit he filed in U.S. District Court in Pine Bluff that the school board breached its contract with him and didn’t give due process.
The school board said in its court filings that Payne was properly canned under the “no cause” provision of the contract that he signed in June 2011.
“The contract states that the Board may vote not to extend the contract on or before the anniversary of the contract each year,” the board’s attorney, Luther Sutter of Benton, said in his filing. “This is precisely what happened.”
The board did have several reasons to fire Payne, according to a letter that was filed as part of Payne’s complaint. Payne hired a friend to deal with the school’s technical issues at a cost of $54,000, the board said in its May 18 letter to Payne. Payne didn’t get approval from the board before the vendor was hired, and Payne didn’t take competitive bids for the job, the letter said.
Payne said the board made the decision to fire him in an executive session on Feb. 28. But when the board reconvened in open session, it took no action.
Arkansas law “requires a public body, upon returning form executive session, to reconvene in public session and vote in public on any such motion to terminate a contractual agreement,” Payne said in his lawsuit.
Payne is seeking an unspecified amount of money for damages.