JCPS: Ex-lawyer involved in teaching controversy 'not entitled' - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS: Ex-lawyer involved in teaching controversy 'not entitled' to another job

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Stephanie Malone Stephanie Malone

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The ex-central office lawyer who accepted and then declined a new $84,000 teaching job created for her was told Thursday that her employment with Jefferson County Public Schools will end July 31.

Despite a claim made by Stephanie Malone that she continues to have a "right of employment with the district" and a request for Superintendent Donna Hargens to assign her to a position for which she is qualified, Hargens informed Malone in a letter dated Wednesday that she is "not entitled" to another job.

"You are not entitled to another position in the district and therefore your decision to decline the teaching position to which you were assigned constitutes a resignation from employment with JCPS," Hargens wrote in the letter, which was provided to WDRB News on Thursday in response to an open records request. "Your employment with the district will end at the close of business on July 31."

Malone's job as assistant general counsel was eliminated by JCPS in May as part of Hargens' decision to outsource legal work to save money. The district then created a new teaching job in the law magnet program at Central High School specifically for Malone -- double the salary of a starting educator despite not yet having teaching credentials.

As part of the plan, Malone was to pursue certification through the state's career and technical education program, which allows potential educators an alternate route to becoming a teacher. But on July 6, she withdrew her "extensive application" seeking alternate certification.

In her July 6 letter to Hargens, Malone said she was declining the position because she believed "recent media attention" created a hostile environment that would place her in an "untenable position at Central." 

"Just as importantly...you assigned me to a position that requires that I go far beyond completing documents to gain the required certification, including spending thousands of dollars to complete the credit hours that will be required," Malone writes. 

Malone also states that JCPS assigned her the position without contacting the school's principal, who in turn told Malone that he "knew nothing about the assignment."

In addition, Malone says she feared that while JCPS agreed to fund the new teaching position for one year out of its general fund, Central High would be expected to fund it -- despite not having the money to do so -- after the 2015-16 year.

"In my opinion, it is unconscionable to expect me to spend the time and money required to seek certification for a position that you well know may last for just one year due to a lack of funding," Malone writes.

Other documents and emails obtained under an open records request show that Malone was initially notified on May 11 that her job was being eliminated and that she was being offered a teaching job with a salary of $65,956.

However, after Malone argued that the salary was miscalculated, the district agreed it erred and set her salary at $84,000 -- the highest scale for a teacher to mitigate the decrease in pay from her central office job. 

Malone accepted the job on June 20 and told the district she would begin working toward her alternate certification.

On several occassions, Malone advocated and requested that JCPS pay for her certification costs and tuition -- requests that were denied by the district. 

Malone started earning the $84,000 teaching salary on July 1, a day after her position as assistant general counsel was eliminated. She had been making $148,600 annually.

"She has been aiding in the transition of the legal department," said Stephanie Bateman, a spokeswoman for JCPS. "As of July 1, her rate of pay transitioned to her new teacher rate."

She will continue at that rate until July 31 when her employement will end.

"As before, thank you for your service to the district," Hargens wrote in the letter's conclusion. "Please accept my best wishes for your future endeavors."

District officials have defended creating the teaching job at Central for Malone, saying there was “no other place for her to go."

"We created this position because there was no other place for her to go and because Central High School had expressed the desire to expand their law program," Michael Raisor, chief operations officer for JCPS, told WDRB News on July 2.

However, Central High's budget for the upcoming academic year makes no request for an expanded program, and the school’s former principal -- who retired June 30 -- said the school did not ask the district to fund a third law magnet teaching position. No additional students are entering the law magnet program and no additional classes were added to the schedule for this fall, he said.

Bateman said she wasn't sure if JCPS would still plan on expanding the law magnet.

"We will consult with Central's new principal regarding the needs of the law magnet," Bateman said.

PREVIOUS | Questions remain about JCPS creation of teaching job for ex-central office lawyer

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Reporter Antoinette Konz covers JCPS and education issues for WDRB News. She can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

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