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 CAB Settlement with Teacher Goes Sour

May 28, 2008 - The Charles A. Beard School Board’s unanimous vote last week approving a settlement with a teacher who claims she was wrongly denied a coaching job did not resolve the teacher’s formal grievance against CAB after all.

Knightstown Intermediate School teacher Vee Ann Schmidt had complained she was wrongly passed over earlier this school year for the girls varsity tennis coaching position at Knightstown High School, the job going to a non-teaching lay coach. A public grievance hearing on Schmidt’s grievance had been scheduled to immediately follow the board’s May 20 meeting, but the hearing was not held, the board and Schmidt both apparently believing the matter was settled.

Before voting to approve the settlement, board members neither discussed nor even disclosed the terms of the school corporation’s agreement with Schmidt – even though it had been five weeks since they had last met to discuss the matter. As soon as the meeting adjourned, The Banner asked interim Superintendent Ray Pavy for a copy of the settlement agreement with Schmidt.

Pavy said he would have to summarize the settlement’s terms because it had not yet been put in writing. He said the agreement required CAB to pay Schmidt the salary stipend she would have received had she been giving the coaching job – $2,660.16, according to CAB’s current extracurricular activity salary schedule. Schmidt, who attended last week’s meeting, initially declined to comment when asked how she felt about the settlement. “I’m going to have to get back with you,” she said. “Something that was supposed to happen didn’t happen.”

Sharon Casey, a representative from the Indiana State Teachers Association attending the meeting with Schmidt, was surprised to learn Pavy had said the settlement only included the coaching stipend. She said CAB’s attorney, Mike Wallman, had told her the day before that CAB also agreed Schmidt would be named the KHS boys varsity tennis coach in the fall.

Casey, Schmidt and two representatives from CAB’s Classroom Teachers Association, Tom Crawford and Bill Riehle, spent several minutes discussing this issue with Pavy in the hallway outside the board’s meeting room. Casey told Pavy what she had told The Banner minutes earlier – that Wallman had said the settlement also included the boys coaching position in addition to the stipend.

Pavy said Wallman had not told him that. He said he would follow-up with the attorney and get back with Crawford, president of CAB’s CTA.

“If it doesn’t include the boys coaching job, then there won’t be a settlement,” Casey told Pavy.

For clarification, The Banner asked Pavy while he was still out in the hallway with Schmidt, Casey and the others if he had not known the boys coaching position was part of the settlement. “I didn’t,” he answered. “Well, I thought it was going to happen,” he added, “but I didn’t know it was part of the settlement.”

The school board had approved several coaching appointments for fall and winter sports for next school year during last week’s meeting. The boys varsity tennis coaching position, however, was not one of them.

Crawford advised The Banner last Friday that he had met with Pavy Wednesday, the day after the board meeting. He said Pavy told him he had spoken with Wallman and that the attorney said the boys coaching position was not part of CAB’s settlement offer to Schmidt.

Because the agreement, from CAB’s perspective, is not the same as Schmidt had believed it to be, Crawford said there is no settlement. He said that the ISTA’s Casey has been directed to take whatever steps are necessary to continue the grievance process, which might include rescheduling the hearing that had been set for May 20, or, possibly, arbitration.

Crawford said Schmidt’s grievance is “brand new territory” for CAB and that he could not recall any other situations where a CAB teacher’s grievance had reached this level without being resolved. He also said the CTA believes that teachers, who, if qualified, are supposed to get coaching and other extracurricular positions before non-teachers, make better coaches.

“We feel that faculty members are more qualified because high school sports are a teaching situation, and we think they are trained to teach,” Crawford said. “We believe a faculty member will teach the student not only the sport, but will also work with them on improving their grades in school and performing well in the classroom.”

 

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