Athletic director files lawsuit after reassignment to teaching… | TCTA
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Gavel, law books and scales of justice

Athletic director files lawsuit after reassignment to teaching role

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An athletic director was reassigned to a teaching position. He filed a grievance to challenge that decision and the district's board of trustees voted to deny his complaint. After the commissioner of education affirmed the district's decision, the athletic director filed a lawsuit in district court to challenge the commissioner's order. The trial court reversed the commissioner's decision and the district filed an appeal.

The athletic director was employed under a contract that stated that his position was "certified administrator." The superintendent notified him that his assignment was changed from athletic director to a teacher at the district's Disciplinary Alternative Education Center (DAEC). The notice informed the athletic director that his salary for the remainder of the school year would remain the same, but for the next school year, his salary would be reduced to reflect his assignment as a teacher at DAEC.

The athletic director filed a grievance, arguing that the reassignment was a breach of his contract as a certified administrator because he had held this same contract in prior years and was now being assigned to a different professional capacity than the one specified in his contract. He also argued that since the reassignment involved considerably less authority, duties and responsibilities, and at a lower position on the district's salary schedule, that it was a demotion. The district and commissioner of education denied the grievance, but the district court disagreed with that ruling.

The court of appeals held that the athletic director's contract contained no restrictions on the district's right to reassign him. Nor did the contract specify what his position or salary would be. Thus, the renewed contract's own terms permitted the district to reassign the athletic director to a new position even if the salary was lower.

Additionally, the reassignment, which occurred in January, did not result in any reduction in salary for the remainder of the school year, although it did result in a reduction for the upcoming school year. The court of appeals found that the athletic director was notified of the reduction in his salary in plenty of time for him to resign prior to the upcoming school year and avoid a potential reduction of salary. The court of appeals overruled the district court and held that the athletic director's reassignment was lawful.