Dispute Ends With Teacher's Resignation

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The Payson school board's decision not to accept Scott Dean's resignation won't keep the Payson High School teacher and head basketball coach on campus.

Dean packed his belongings and departed school the afternoon of Sept. 28, saying he was bound for Lake Region State College in Devil's Lake, N.D., where he will be associate athletic director and basketball coach.

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Scott Dean

A substitute teacher was in his classroom the following day.

A week before departing, Dean turned in his resignation to athletic director Dave Bradley. But, at a Sept. 26 board meeting, members refused to accept the resignation saying, in effect, "stay on the job."

Dean, however, ignored the board's directive.

"I hate to do this," he said. "I wish I could stay but I can't. I was a good teacher and wanted to build a basketball program here."

The 52-year-old Dean, who was hired in late June, cited a dispute with the district concerning the years of teaching service with which he had been credited as his reason for leaving.

"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."

Dean also said that placing him on the salary schedule's first step would delay the date he could retire.

"I need to retire by the time I am 60," he said. "I don't want to be long-toothed and still teaching."

His placement on the salary schedule, however, would not affect the date he could retire, only his retirement salary.

Arizona teachers are eligible to retire after accumulating 80 points. One point is awarded for each year of teaching and year of age. The monthly retirement payments are based on a percentage of the salary the teacher was making while employed.

Salary dispute

In the Payson district, all incoming teachers -- regardless of experience -- are placed on step one of the salary schedule.

Superintendent Sue Myers and PHS principal Roy Sandoval said school confidentially laws prohibit them from discussing Dean, his resignation or the salary schedule issues he said led to his departure.

Myers did say, however, "we are sorry he chose to leave. He was a fine teacher."

The superintendent also defended the board's decision not to accept Dean's resignation, 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."

"We didn't have a replacement for him either as a (resource history) teacher or (basketball) coach," Myers said.

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."

Dean said he knew there were risks in leaving PHS, but was willing to take them and defended his decision.

"I was told certain things would happen when I was hired and they didn't," he said. "I never saw my contract until 10 days after school started."

Myers said his contract "was prepared and given to him when all his paperwork and transcripts were in (the district office)."

Dean said after he saw his contract and realized he had been placed on step one, he'd started negotiating a compromise, but was unable to do so.

Myers said the district had to abide by policies and remain fair to all teachers.

Myers was referring to the fact other teachers in the district have been hired with considerable experience and placed, like Dean, on the first step of the salary schedule.

Traveling man

Dean arrived in the Payson School District last summer with a long history of having transferred from school to school. His coaching and teaching career included stops in Page, Duncan and Buena in Arizona and in various high schools in Oregon, Utah, Nevada and North Dakota.

After a selection committee tapped Dean as the replacement for former PHS coach Mike Loutzenheiser, Bradley said he was aware of the new coach's vagabond background but his references were solid.

A 1978 graduate of Brigham Young University, the well-traveled Dean said he had a 224-104 career record and his teams had made 10 state appearances.

Immediately after being hired, Dean jump-started an aggressive summer basketball program that had players traveling the state participating in tournaments.

In a handout to team members, he said he would build championship mentality, build community pride, honor the community with a great and proud tradition and develop a "class act" among the athletes.

In addition to teaching history and coaching basketball, Dean was an assistant football coach.

Bradley said plans are under way to select a coaching replacement for Dean. Sandoval has also begun the search to find a teacher to assume his classroom duties.

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