Even if the Bibb County school board buys out Superintendent Romain Dallemand, his legal challenges will continue.
In one week, a Bibb County judge is slated to hear arguments in two different cases involving Dallemand. One of those suits, brought by Lizella resident Brad DeFore, asks a judge to throw out Dallemands new and original contracts, as well as halting all payments under them.
The same judge will also go over a request by former Chief Financial Officer Ron Collier for an injunction to stop payments for a lease involving the Macon Promise Neighborhood program. Collier, who is suing the school board rather than Dallemand under a whistle-blower act, alleges that Dallemand threatened his job and demoted him because Collier refused to write a check that might have been illegal.
Colliers attorney, Jerry Lumley, said Thursday that the Collier lawsuit would continue regardless of whether Dallemand leaves his job.
Lumley is also representing former school board member Gary Bechtel, who is suing Dallemand personally, claiming that he authorized the release of Bechtels sons educational records on the school systems website in violation of student privacy laws. That case would also move forward, Lumley said.
Everything continues, he said. The mere fact that he resigns from the school system doesnt mean hes no longer responsible for his conduct, Lumley said.
A separate lawsuit by Macon attorney Daryl Morton alleges that the school system has illegally balked in fulfilling an open records request he filed. Morton also said Thursday that his suit would not be affected if the superintendent resigns.
Bibb County approved a $198,000 lump-sum settlement with Dallemands predecessor, Sharon Patterson, in February 2010.
Contracts under fire
DeFores lawsuit claims, in part, that Dallemands new contract doesnt match what the school board actually approved Dec. 3.
Some of the differences involve relatively small items, such as exactly how many sick days Dallemand gets or whether the school system provides him with a cell phone.
But the biggest discrepancy is a provision that, if Dallemands new contract is terminated by the school board, the Superintendent shall receive a full years annual base salary and benefits. DeFores suit claims that provision alone increased the monetary obligations of the School District under the contract in excess of $300,000.00.
Tim Shepherd, a Griffin attorney who has represented the Griffin-Spalding Board of Education for 16 years, said a contract that doesnt match a school boards intent could be struck down. Shepherd said he was speaking generically, without full knowledge of the Bibb County situation.
Its subject to invalidation, he said of superintendent contracts. Whether or not a court would do it, I dont know. Unless the board authorized the terms of a contract, the school district has no authority to comply with those terms.
If the board approved terms A, B, C -- and thats reflected in the motion and the minutes -- and the contract has, for whatever reason, A, B, C and D, unless the board has approved D and D requires the expenditure of public funds, in my opinion, youve got problems spending money on D.
The Telegraph reported Wednesday night and in Thursdays paper that Dallemand broached the prospect of leaving his job with school board members during a closed session Jan. 17. That could entail a negotiated settlement, but its not clear whether or when the school board would agree to terms.
Under Dallemands new contract, he would get a years base salary and benefits -- if the board terminates the contract. If Dallemand or the school board cancels the contract without cause, Dallemand would get another $70,000 for each year served. He has served about two years. He can be removed by a majority vote of the quorum of the board for reasons including incompetency, insubordination or willful neglect of duty.
Under the old contract, which was to have run through June 30, 2013, Dallemand could be removed for cause for similar reasons after a board hearing. The old contract could also be ended if Dallemand and the school system both agreed, if Dallemand retired or if he became disabled.
There were no additional payments when the contract ended, because the Superintendent shall not be entitled to receive any further compensation under this Agreement of any kind upon or after the termination except for the payment of any earned but unpaid salary and accrued annual leave due at the time of termination.
Both contracts provide for a base pay of $198,000.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.