Former JE employee offers to settle litigation with district

2011-08-16T12:01:00Z Former JE employee offers to settle litigation with districtKelly Voll The Citizen Auburn Citizen
August 16, 2011 12:01 pm  • 

Jordan-Elbridge's former director of operations Paula VanMinos has offered a proposal to settle her current litigation with the district, but Superintendent James Froio said he will recommend that the board reject the offer.

VanMinos' lawyer, Harris Lindenfeld, proposed on Aug. 3 that the Jordan-Elbridge Central School District pay VanMinos $168,000, or a little more than half the money VanMinos was guaranteed in her employment contract that was voided by the board in May for being riddled with "legal infirmities."

An item on the school board's Wednesday, Aug. 17 meeting agenda states Froio's recommendation that the board reject Lindenfeld's proposal for a settlement.

"I think she (VanMinos) should move on," Froio said. "A proper settlement would be zero. That's the settlement I'd be interested in."

The school district's attorneys recently conducted an investigation into the contract's origins and concluded that VanMinos and former interim superintendent Larry Zacher had camouflaged several clauses that VanMinos had added into her contract - one of them being a tenure clause that guaranteed VanMinos either tenure or three years of her current salary, which was $97,000 at the time.

The district's lawyers also said the district's former lawyer, Danny Mevec, was likely helping VanMinos revise her contract to include the lucrative clauses and then billing the district for the work he did for VanMinos after he had been fired.

The contract was approved by the board and signed by Zacher in February.

"The contract was not up-front and easily understandable," Froio said. "I think there may have been collusion in the creation of it and I don't feel it was an up-front and honest contract."

Froio believes the board didn't understand when they approved the contract what clauses were within and what they meant for the district.

"I don't think we should have to pay her $308,000 (the cost of three years of VanMinos' salary plus her annual raises as stated in the voided contract). I don't think we should have to pay her half of that," Froio said. "What she's saying she's entitled to is $308,000 because she didn't receive tenure. Now she's saying, 'OK, I'll take half of that.' In my mind, that doesn't make it any better. I don't think she entitled to over $100,000 at the cost of the district."

Lindenfeld declined to comment about the settlement, according to a receptionist who picked up the phone at his office.

Wednesday's meeting agenda also includes an item in which Froio recommends the board reject the proposal from Dennis O'Hara, the lawyer representing suspended or fired employees Bill Hamilton, David Zehner and Anthony Scro. O'Hara had proposed in early July that the district pay them $907,800 to settle current litigation.

The board will vote on both resolutions at tomorrow's meeting.

Staff writer Kelly Voll can be reached at 282-2239 or kelly.voll@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter at CitizenVoll.

If you go

What: Jordan-Elbridge Central School District Board of Education meeting

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 17

Where: Ramsdell Middle School Large Group Instruction Room, 9 N. Chappell St., Jordan

Copyright 2015 Auburn Citizen. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(1) Comments

  1. Bewildered
    Report Abuse
    Bewildered - August 16, 2011 5:54 pm
    So Mevac had a hand in the contract. One board member was riding the hobby horse with Mevac. The rest of the board at the time saw no problem with the relationship betwixt the two. The board president made sure Mevac got paid quickly, despite being fired. Mr. Froio, you are an educated man. Do you want to rethink your supposition that the board was somehow hoodwinked in this scandal?
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