I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

School Board Legal Team Wins Huge Case—Saves District over $350,000.00

From the ECSD General Counsel’s announcement email:

“We have received the attached order from the First District Court of Appeal on the Benson case which dealt with placement on the salary schedule and back pay for teachers with out of state experience. You may recall that last year the Board adopted an order finding which rejected the DOAH Administrative Law Judge's findings in the case and declined to adopt his recommended order. The First DCA issued a Per Curiam Affirmed opinion, which means that the Court found the school board's ruling to be clearly without error, with no need for discussion of legal issues. … It is my understanding that this decision saved the district in excess of $350,000 in pay sought by these plaintiffs, plus an unknown amount for similarly situated employees who could have made a claim if the plaintiffs succeeded.”

This case has been long and drawn out, beginning in the Circuit Court on April 2, 2007--but for all intents and purposes it is over as of this past Friday’s Per Curium Affirmation from the District Court of Appeals.

What I like about this outcome is that it is ending properly. The district was fair and consistent in step placement for both in-state and out of state teachers who were new to the district, and it’s nice to do the right thing for all teachers and to come out on top and not be penalized by the courts.

Due to some changes in Florida Statutes over the past few years, a situation apparently arose which allowed some current and former employees to state that they were not paid fairly and not adequately compensated for their years of teaching experience--- and this lawsuit erupted.

Now that we have prevailed, we can look at section 18 of the original Recommended Order and see what a handful of employees would have won if their lawsuit would have been successful. (plus legal fees!)

The eight current and former teachers were to be paid between $3,000.00-$80,000.00 each. One would have received over $100,000.00 in back pay had the district not prevailed

This is a huge victory that will preclude others from filing similar suits against our district (and the other 66 Florida School districts as well) This conclusion is equitable, and ensures that out of state and teachers and teachers retired from other state school districts do not have an advantage over Florida and Escambia County retired teachers.

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