Lawyers representing former Dothan City Schools Superintendent Dr. Phyllis Edwards are threatening a lawsuit against the school board unless she is paid $584,000.
In a letter to Chairman Mike Schmitz provided to the Dothan Eagle, Montgomery attorney Jacob Fuller said the Dothan City Board of Education terminated Edwards’ contract on or about Sept. 14, 2020.
“After speaking with our client and reviewing documentation related to her employment, we believe her termination was wrongful, and we will be seeking all available remuneration for our client under the law,” Fuller said in the letter.
Edwards submitted an ‘Intent to Resign’ letter to the board dated Sept. 8, 2020.
Sept. 14 was the date board members unanimously accepted Edwards’ resignation, effective immediately, and appointed Chief Operations Officer Dr. Dennis Coe to the position of acting superintendent. Edwards was not present at that meeting.
Fuller contends that the board ignored the advice of Edwards’ attorney at the time, Mark Boardman, to not take any action at the meeting, as Edwards had not resigned.
Fuller said in an interview that the board “effectively terminated her” at that time with little to no regard for the contract itself.
“These actions fly in the face of the employment agreement between the Board and Dr. Edwards,” Fuller stated in his letter.
Dothan City School Board of Education Attorney Kevin Walding said the board’s position is that Edwards resigned and was paid in full everything she was owed under the contract.
“I think anyone with common sense who read her letter would reach that same conclusion,” Walding said.
Her entire resignation letter can be found here.
Walding said Edwards sent nothing to the board indicating her willingness to work.
“It was my understanding that several board members reached out to her and asked if she really wanted to resign and was told that she did,” Walding said.
Edwards worked at her Florida home from March of 2020 until her resignation. Shortly after, she sold her Dothan home and all of its belongings, Walding said.
On Nov. 19, DCS Public Information Officer Meagan Dorsey confirmed that Edwards’ separation was finalized after the system paid out accrued vacation time and insurance premiums, which totaled almost $38,000, on Oct. 27.
Dorsey said no separation agreement was made and discussion with Edwards’ lawyer ceased upon final payments.
Edwards contacted Fuller's law firm shortly before Christmas, Fuller said.
In the letter, Fuller said Edwards’ due process rights were violated and she is entitled to be paid for the remainder of her term and any other available compensation under her contract.
Edwards’ lawyers said they demand strict payment of $584,062.37, which comprises 33-and-a-half months of salary remaining on her contract, retirement benefits, vacation and sick leave.
“We are prepared to file an action in federal court in Montgomery if our client is not properly compensated,” Fuller said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Schmitz had not read the letter and did not have any comment.