A judge recently ruled against a former principal who sued her school district for deciding not to rehire her, according to a recent article on the Durango Herald website. In her lawsuit, the principal accused the school district of denial of due process and breach of contract. The school board voted to rehire the principal in April 2009, but the vote took place before a contract was signed.
According to the suit, the principal and school superintendent were looking to hire a special-ed teacher. The principal suggested to a former colleague that he should apply for the position. The colleague did apply, but the superintendent declined to interview him. The principal told the colleague that he was not going to get an interview. The colleague complained to a member of the school board. When the superintendent found out, he accused the principal of divulging confidential information to a job candidate. He then made a recommendation to the school board to reverse the decision to rehire the principal. The board agreed, and the principal sued.
The presiding judge in the case found that the contract between the principal and the school district was an oral one, which was insufficient to sustain her case. The law in Colorado requires public school contracts be in writing. The principal argued that the board meeting minutes constituted a written contract, but the judge disagreed. The principal also argued that the school district violated her right to due process by denying her a chance to defend herself. The judge acknowledged that the principal did not receive due process, but as a school administrator, she had no tenure nor any right to continued employment at the school.
Any and every contract executed should always be in writing. In this case, a written contract was required by law. Without it the principal’s case had no leg to stand on. A seasoned business litigation attorney would advise his client of the low likelihood of winning a case involving a breach of contract when the only contract is an oral one.