A Northfield educator is suing the Board of Education for what she calls unfair elimination of her position, a move she claims demoted her to the level of a tenured teacher.
According to the case file, in 2010 the school district lost about $634,000 in state aid — creating a need to decrease the budget.
The school board deemed the action that would affect students the least was to eliminate the positions of supervisor of instruction and a secretary. The supervisory position belonged to Carol Ferguson, a middle school social studies teacher and former superintendent applicant.
Ferguson had filed an ethics complaint in 2009 regarding the superintendent-selection process, a job for which both she and current Superintendent Janice Fipp applied. According to the claim, board members who influenced the selection of the new district head had close ties with Fipp, who had campaigned for three of the members of a nine-member board in 2008.
The school board voted to eliminate the two positions March 23, 2010. But eight days later, a budget hearing revealed a 35 percent increase in surplus and reserves, totaling $130,000.
Ferguson says she was demoted, and therefore stripped of administrative powers. In addition, Ferguson’s complaint indicates issues with funding for technology equipment and conferences that related to various grants the school received. The board members had questions about a requested $13,000 in technology equipment and conferences, paid for by grants that Ferguson said were mandatory.
The school board wasn’t entirely alone in making the decision to eliminate the position. It was a recommendation from the Northfield Education Association, an “objective party,” according to the board’s case file.
Ferguson also was not able to pursue the position of superintendent because a rule was put into place that same year requiring a minimum of two years as principal before applying for the position. She believes that was to deliberately bar her from the process.
The case began last year and will continue into 2013 as the next hearing is set for some time in January.
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