School administrator Lynn Rafalik got tenure Tuesday night, but only after two people were silenced as they tried to discuss it and the school board president implied that the district might be sued if it did not grant Rafalik tenure.
“I was reminded of the legal issues or litigation that could result if we did not vote to do this,” President Maxine Brisport said.
She urged the board to develop a “fair” tenure system next year and said that she now suspects unsatisfactory employees have been granted tenure.
“There are employees that believe their peers or supervisors or not doing their job yet do not bring it to their administrators,” she said.
She urged employees to “be a pioneer” and report their colleagues. “Break the cloak of silence,” she said.
Some workers brought complaints about Rafalik to the board, but only anonymously. The details were not made public.
The school board voted to grant tenure to Rafalik and two other administrators whose tenure was inadvertently held up with Rafalik’s.
Five board members voted in favor. Diane Herrmann and Andrew Chestnut both abstained after failing to divide the resolution so they could vote separately on Rafalik.
Brisport said she only voted in favor of Rafalik’s tenure because a vote of no would deny tenure to the other two administrators.
“I am not willing to sacrifice talented individuals. I feel I have no choice but to vote yes,” she said.
The other board members did not explain their vote.
It was the topic of most of the discussion during the board’s budget hearing, at which only two people spoke.
Resident Bill McColl — who has often been the school board’s sole critic on budget matters — told the board that it would be better if the voters reject the new budget at next Tuesday’s vote. The budget currently has a 4 percent tax levy; that could go down slightly under a contingency budget.
Noting that the board would have to cut another $500,000 if the budget fails, McColl said, “The outcome of a contingency budget will be a more advantageous situation. You will be one and a quarter of a percent better off with a contingency budget.”
No one else spoke on the $161.2 million budget, the main purpose of Tuesday’s special meeting. Instead, speakers focused on the tenure issue.
McColl told the board, in veiled language, that Superintendent Eric Ely’s close friendship with Rafalik should be taken into consideration before she was granted tenure.
“Maybe the recommender should recuse,” he said, calling the tenure suspect because of Ely’s connection.
On the opposing side, the president of the district’s administrators’ union criticized the board for discussing the issue in public last week.
“It bordered on crossing a line,” Steve Boynton said.
Both men were quickly silenced. Ely demanded that McColl be stopped on the argument that only budgetary issues could be discussed at the budget hearing.
McColl countered, “It is a multi-million dollar decision for the board.”
But Janiszewski supported silencing him. He also called for Boynton to be silenced, saying, “Tenure discussion is inappropriate at a budget hearing.”
Boynton agreed to submit his comments in writing instead.