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Sticky semantics
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Sticky semantics

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It looks more and more like former Dothan School Superintendent Phyllis Edwards’ legal maneuvering to claim wrongful termination after her apparent resignation may have some merit. In fact, it looks like she may have outfoxed the school board and could wind up with almost $600,000 in compensation for the remainder of her contract.

Edwards’ attorney, Jacob Fuller of Montgomery, contacted the school board demanding $584,000 from the Dothan City School Board of Education to pay out the remainder of her contract, including salary, retirement benefits, vacation, and sick leave, and that unless she is paid, he would file a lawsuit for wrongful termination.

The hitch may be the language Edwards used in her Sept. 8 missive to board members, beneath a subject header reading: “Resignation.”

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In the four-page document, Edwards outlines accomplishments and challenges, including frustrations over trust and confidence with the school board.

“For this reason and some that will remain unstated, I intend to tender my resignation to the Dothan City School Board,” Edwards wrote in the final paragraph.

The words “I intend to tender my resignation” suggests she plans to do so at some time in the future. However, the school board voted to accept her resignation and completed all the paperwork for cessation of employment.

It may fall to a court to determine her intent, which is clearly stated. It may well turn out to be an expensive matter of semantics.

School board members should determine the least costly path, and take greater care with contractual matters in the future.

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