Concerns raised over WPSB employee contracts

A Webster Parish School Board member says they could potentially be in violation of the law by not approving employee contracts.

John Madden, District 6, said the superintendent of schools is required to provide employee contracts to the school board for approval and he has not been doing so. Act 548 of the 2014 Louisiana Legislature dictates the superintendent provide supervisory employee contracts to the board for approval before hire.

“Prior to the board’s approval of any initial or subsequent contract of employment pursuant to the provisions of this section, the superintendent shall disclose all terms of such a contract to the board,” it states.

Madden said the act is vague and needs some clarification.

Interim Superintendent Johnny Rowland said he has sent in a request for clarification to the board’s attorney Jon K. Guice, of Hammonds, Sills, Adkins and Guice in Monroe.

“I have asked our attorney to provide the procedure we should follow to be in compliance with the law,” he said. “This has been the procedure that we’ve been following but the board has every right to approve every contract if that’s what they choose to do. The board has the authority to see every administrative contract as they come around.”

Act 1 gives the superintendent or the interim superintendent the authority to name the person that will go into the administrative position.

Madden said Guice interprets the law to mean the superintendent provide a blank contract form for each of these supervisory positions that include principal, assistant principal and supervisors. Guice said that will be his recommendation to the board, and he would provide a contract form to make sure they have the most up-to-date form to follow.

The law came to pass when a Rapides Parish school board member said he’d never seen any of their contracts, and thought the board should be privy to that information; since the implementation of Act 548, school boards across the state are approving contract forms, Guice said.

“The majority of them come up with a contract form and the school board approves that form so they know that’s what the contract looks like,” he said. “Some boards want to approve every contract, and most are 2-year contracts.”

Madden said he doesn’t agree with that method.

“To be a good school board member, I believe we should know who’s being hired, what they’re being paid, what their duties are and where they’re supposed to be working, whether it’s at the school board office or at a school,” he said. “I’ve asked for contracts before and (former superintendent Dr. Dan) Rawls said, ‘I’m not giving them to you.’ I’m not on a witch hunt, but I just think it’s good business to ask who we’re hiring and what their responsibilities are.”

Rowland said he would provide Guice’s recommendation to the board at their next meeting.

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