New Castle News

March 25, 2013

Teacher wants back pay for time cut

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — A former Lawrence County Career and Technical Center teacher is seeking back pay after his hours were reduced.

The school’s joint operating committee met in executive session Thursday to deliberate over whether to grant Barry Clever those wages.

Clever, who was the electronics technology instructor at the school, was cut from full- to part-time status at the end of the 2010-11 school year, effective for the 2011-12 year, according to his attorney, James Manolis.

As a result, Clever, hired full time in 2005, lost half his salary. The cut was made based on a recommendation of Dr. Andrew Tommelleo, the school’s director, premised upon a reduction in enrollment in the electronics technology shop and budget cuts, according to Manolis.

The joint operating committee conducted a public hearing Feb. 21 at Clever’s request. Attorney Richard Flannery represented the school administration, and attorney Greg Fox, the school solicitor, moderated.

Clever is seeking back pay plus 6 percent interest and the reinstatement of benefits lost for the period of June 30, 2011, through Aug. 22 of 2012, which is when he voluntarily resigned.

His claim is that enrollment had not decreased in the course when his hours were reduced and he should not have been demoted, Manolis explained. Although Clever belonged to the teachers union, he requested the hearing under the state school code.

“Even if there was a decrease (in enrollment), he should have been given the duties that less senior teachers were given and be permitted to keep his full-time status,” Manolis contends.

While only nine students were enrolled in Clever’s class for the 2010-11 school year, Tommelleo did not disclose to the committee that at least 11 students had enrolled for 2011-12, Manolis said. The school ended up with 19 students in the class for that school year, meaning enrollment had more than doubled.

The optimum number required for a class under the collective bargaining agreement was 15 students, he pointed out.

Clever had taught shop for four out of 10 class periods during 2010-11 and was an alternative learning center teacher for three other periods. He spent the remaining three periods doing announcements as an assigned duty, preparing for classes and lunch break, Manolis wrote in his brief.

After the cut in his hours, Clever continued teaching four periods of shop classes, Manolis said, but he was relieved of his other duties as opposed to any related to teaching the shop.

Those were the alternative learning classes he had for the rest of the day, which were given to less senior teachers, “a violation of school code in our opinion.”

In his brief, Manolis wrote that Clever had been advised of his demotion in writing before the joint operating committee had voted on it. He also had received notice of it by certified mail on May 20, the day after the meeting.

Manolis maintains in the brief that the joint operating committee “based its decision to demote Mr. Clever on bad information provided by Tommelleo,” and that when the committee voted, Tommelleo knew at least 10 students would be enrolled in the class and more were likely to enroll, but he did not tell the committee members.

More importantly, Tommelleo did not tell the members that Clever already was teaching the shop for only four periods and not full time and that he was teaching alternative learning for three other periods, Manolis pointed out.

Clever resigned from the center during 2011-12 because he had no opportunity to work full time, Manolis said.

Fox said yesterday the joint operating committee is deliberating and he anticipates it issuing a decision by public vote at its May meeting.

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)