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J-E administrator's contract gets questioned

The Jordan-Elbridge school board was back on the front page of the Post-Standard Sunday , this time for allowing director of operations Paula VanMinos to negotiate an unusually cushy contract with the district.

The contract includes a clause that essentially forces the three new board members and superintendent, set to take over in June, to grant VanMinos tenure. If tenure isn't granted, VanMinos gets her full salary for three years for a total of $308,000.

Retired Superintendent of J-E Schools Marilyn Dominick called it a "very, very sweet deal for her." Alfred Riccio, the executive director of the New York State Association of Management Advocates for School Labor Affairs, asked a Post-Standard reporter if it was a joke.

"It's almost like blackmail," he said. "They're basically saying to the next board: 'If you try to deny her tenure, it's going to be a $300,000 penalty.'"

State education law dictates that school districts cannot grant tenure until an employee has worked in the district for three years. VanMinos was hired in October 2008. The contract also requires the district to pay VanMinos a full-year's salary if her position is cut.

The board voted 6-3 to approve the contract at a meeting Feb. 2. Interim Superintendent Larry Zacher signed the contract, which also included a $21,000 raise, Feb. 3.

Dennis O'Hara, a lawyer for the three suspended or fired district employees, told the Post-Standard he plans to file a court action this week asking a judge to declare VanMinos' contract null and void.

The Post-Standard report also said a reporter recently observed VanMinos "many times arriving at Zacher's apartment on West Lake Road, in Skaneateles, in the evening, going inside, then leaving in the morning.

The board scheduled a special meeting for 7 p.m. tonight at the high school library to discuss the developing story. See the agenda here: http://www.jecsd.org/district.cfm?subpage=122702

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