Teresa Gray, the LR School District mother, and others who coalesced to oppose the ouster of Roy Brooks as superintendent have sued to stop his contract buyout. It's an illegal exaction from taxpayers, they contend, and they want an injunction to stop the buyout until the legal issue can be decided. Their news release and lawsuit here. The Gill law firm and Eugene Sayre, a veteran of illegal exaction lawsuits, are among the plaintiffs' counsel. (Wonder who's paying?)
Two quick comments. The plaintiffs say they take no position on Brooks. Baloney.. They are using every means possible to keep him as superintendent. Which is fine. Why say otherwise? Secondly, Brooks has often been defended (in exaggerated fashion) as the man who got Little Rock out of court. Getting out of court is a fine thing unless it doesn't suit your own purposes. The legal bills will really mount now.
Legal merits? We'll see. It has been argued that it's illegal to pay someone tax money not to work. Contract buyouts have been used repeatedly throughout Arkansas, however. If contract buyouts are NOT legal, it will create a difficult employment situation for every public agency that extends contracts. It would seem to make termination possible only for cause. That's not a good situation practically speaking.
FURTHER THOUGHTS: If this is only about money, not about Brooks, good. The School Board should say, "We terminated his contract as provided under a clause he put in the contract himself. If he should not be paid, we won't pay him. We'll put the money in the court registry and let the court decide." The injunctive relief is sought on the expenditure of money, not to prevent irreparable damage to Roy Brooks. He still can be terminated.
The bigger issue is this: If the plaintiffs win, they lose. They will set in motion a process that likely will end with the same outcome but require an expenditure greater than what will be spent exercising the buy-out clause. The long, bitter and expensive firing process would begin. A hearing officer might or might not find sufficient cause to fire Brooks. But the Board need not accept that finding and I doubt it will. There's ample evidence of cronyism and disrespect and law-fudging by Brooks for a four-member majority to declare it doesn't have sufficient confidence to keep Brooks employed. So then he'd still be gone -- with no traveling money. Then he'd likely sue. That process should easily take the balance of time remaining on his contract.Suppose he wins. At the end of the day, he gets the money that Teresa Gray and Co. don't want to spend now, plus interest, plus attorney fees, plus all the cost this legal action has created. BUT HE STILL DOESN'T GET HJIS JOB BACK. Only damages.
Roy Brooks must go. This is only the latest illustration of his fatal divisiveness. People who claim interest in stability of the district have certainly picked a funny way to exhibit that interest. They look a whole lot more like spoiled children who, accustomed to getting their way, won't take no for an answer.
The correct process to take issue with the bosses of a public entity is long and hard. But it's the essence of the system. It's at the ballot box. That's how the other side did it.
PS -- If the buyout be "severance pay" I don't get the legal argument that it's illegal because it's not among the things required to be in a superintendent's contract. Is a car required? Are bonuses? To name just two other things in Brooks' contract. Would those be illegal exactions, too?