Piper Underwood | Rimini Road
Although the special board meeting on March 31st to consider firing Superintendent McClain, was called with little notice, and was held in the middle of the day, parents and teachers from throughout the district found a way to be there, some of them with children in tow.
Parents, teachers and even Superintendent McClain’s husband spoke out against firing Dr. McClain. One parent speaker went so far as to ask for two minutes of silence so the board could reflect on its decision. During this time, another parent called out, “Look at us Katherine!” referring to board member Katherine White.
Another parent urged the board to work with Dr. McClain, the superintendent “they hired” in 2008 to replace superintendent Tom Bishop, particularly during a time of deficit spending. But, after a number of heart felt, and occasionally caustic speakers, the board went into closed session and returned with a majority vote to fire Dr. McClain. The lone “no” vote was cast by board president, Comischell Rodriguez.
Because the board fired McClain for a material breach of her contract, her salary and benefits were terminated upon her firing. Those claiming that this will cost the district more money are referring to the possibility of Dr. McClain suing the district for the remainder of her contract, which would be upwards of $400,000 – if she decides to sue, and if she wins. While we can’t know the specifics of Dr. McClain’s firing, we can assume that the board does not feel Dr. McClain has a case. If McClain does decide to sue, the cause(s) of her termination will be made public.
At a subsequent meeting where the board introduced interim superintendent James Peabody current superintendent of the Julian High School District, a handful of McClain supporters held up signs asking for the resignation of the board. Of course, three of the board members will likely be voted out when their terms come up this November. They are Easton, White and McDowell.
Peabody has indicated that he is not in favor of closing a school, however he is still in the process of acquainting himself with the district’s financial state of affairs. He has met with the district financial task force, which is gathering information on the district’s finances, including the district’s status as a basic aid district. The task force is forming strategies to maintain the basic aid status as well as working on a district reserve policy to support it. While it appears the property tax decline may not be as severe as initially thought, we can’t know if the state will continue to target basic aid district funds or how much they will take.