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R-P Superintendent to pursue tenure rights

Fri, Apr 20th, 2007
Posted in Education

RUSHFORD - recently released superintendent, Jeffrey Miller, is pursuing the possibility of tenure rights due to his holding the position of middle school principal for the past four years.

The item came at the end of the agenda for the board's monthly meeting last Monday, April 16.

Board chair John Nitecki addressed the issue by distributing a legal opinion he'd obtained from board attorney, Patricia Maloney, after Miller made his request for tenure rights.

The five page document concludes that "Mr. Miller will not have any continuing contract or other employment rights to a principal position in the School District after June 30, 2007."

The document acknowledges that "Minnesota Courts have not ruled on an identical situation," but there are similarities to a 1986 case in Canby.

Essentially the opinion asserts that, although Miller did serve as middle school principal, and principals generally do have tenure rights, Miller has none because he was only hired as a superintendent and his contract is thus governed by "the statute governing superintendents' contracts."

"Although he is properly licensed as a principal and has been assigned as part of his Superintendent's duties to act as the Middle School Principal, Jeffrey Miller has only been employed by the School District as a superintendent," the document states.

Nitecki asked the board for a motion to support the legal opinion that Miller has no tenure rights; a motion was made and passed unanimously. Miller indicated after the meeting that he will likely challenge the board's decision.

Earlier in the meeting the board heard staffing requests from elementary principal Bruce Blixt. As a result of large classes in two of the elementary grades and the recent decision to go to all day/every day kindergarten, the hiring of an additional 2.17 FTE is required. Blixt pointed out that this is only 1.0 more than already approved with the kindergarten decision.

The board approved the hiring request.

The board also learned the unfortunate news that some of the funding for the middle school counselor position held by Jill Diana through a Hiawatha Valley agreement is "going away." The position, which is shared with Caledonia, costs $32,500, which comes from a variety of sources, including family services organizations. The $15,500 from Fillmore County Family Services collaborative will no longer be available so, barring the discovery of other funds, the board needed to vote on whether the lost funding could come from the district's general fund.

Miller provided a summary of Diana's duties, which include home visits, Lunch Bunch, and monitoring support plans for students with needs.

Miller predicted the district would find itself with "larger than canker sore sized problems erupting in middle school and later in high school" if this position is eliminated. "I can't speak any higher for that position, in particular for Jill Diana," Miller said.

The board approved the request to supply the required funding if other sources aren't found.

In other business, the board:

• approved a request from Rushford City Administrator, Windy Block, to shift approximately 6 acres in the nearly 52 acres for the JOBZ program to allow new city business, Riverside Electronics, to benefit. (The city council already approved the measure, and Block will next go to the county board.)

• voted to reinforce the district's policy of charging a one-time event fee of $25 to non-profit groups to rent out the theatre (Dan Munson abstained, as a member of the Rushford Area Society of the Arts board)

• tabled a bid of $4,272 from R & R Construction of Rushford to remove and replace the old concrete slab in front of the west side.

• accepted the resignation of Paul Skalet, middle school custodian, and Elizabeth Strapp as Kinder-Club Supervisor; approved the hiring of Justine Koenen and Leandra Anderson as shared middle school softball coaches.

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