School Board Holding Teachers To Contract Commitments

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For the second time this year, the school district governing board has denied a resignation request from a teacher.

At its Nov. 18 meeting, the board opted not to allow Payson High School girls physical education teacher Audra Judd to step away from her year-long contract, which requires that she teach until the culmination of the school year in May 2006.

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Payson High School teacher Audra Judd was denied a request for resignation at the school district governing board's Nov. 18 meeting.

Judd, a second-year teacher, who did not wish to comment on the board's decision, has indicated to school administrators she will probably remain on the job and fulfill her contract.

At a Sept. 26 meeting, board members refused to accept the resignation of PHS social studies teacher and boys basketball coach Scott Dean. Just two days later, however, Dean packed up his belongings and departed the school campus, saying he was bound for Lake Region State College in Devil's Lake, N.D., where he would be associate athletic director and boys basketball coach.

Dean said he was leaving because of a dispute with the district about the years of service with which he had been credited.

"I was asked to start on step one (of the salary schedule), and I've been teaching 28 years," he said. "I don't know of a district that doesn't give a teacher at least five years.

"Some give 10 (years) and some more than that."

Judd had indicated she wished to resign so she could marry and return to her home in southern Arizona.

In Dean's ignoring of the school board directive, he said, "I wish I could stay here but I can't. I was a good teacher and I wanted to build a basketball program here."

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Scott Dean

Judd was also a basketball coach, serving last year as an assistant to Lady Horn head coach Rory Huff. Judd is not coaching this season.

Board members and district administrators are tight-lipped about the decisions to not allow Judd and Dean to step away from their contracts because most of the discussions were done in executive session.

It is a violation of Arizona state law to discuss any issue that transpired in executive session.

A decision on Judd's resignation was originally to be made at the October board meeting. It was tabled, however, because all five members were not present.

In 2004, Judd was one of seven new teachers hired at PHS by then principal Sue Myers, now the district superintendent.

Myers defended the board's decision not to accept mid-year resignations, saying the members were simply following district policy.

The policy -- mostly written by the Arizona School Boards Association -- states, "A release from an uncompleted contract may be granted contingent upon the availability of a well-qualified certificated teacher as a replacement."

Administrators said certified replacements for Dean and Judd were not immediately available.

Dean's decision to walk out of his contract could put his Arizona teaching certification in jeopardy.

Under Arizona statutes, the state board of education can revoke teaching credentials for unprofessional conduct.

Payson district policy states, "A teacher who resigns contrary to this policy shall be deemed to have committed an unprofessional act and shall be subject to the penalty as provided under Arizona statutes and state board of education regulations."

The board's decision to not allow Judd and Dean out of their contracts represents a reversal from previous stands.

Three years ago, the board -- which had three different members -- allowed Rim Country Middle School teacher Byron Quinlan to step away from his position only weeks into the school year.

With the decision to not allow Judd and Dean to resign, this board has indicated it will hold all teachers to their full contracts.

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