Hobbs Demotion Followup

Dr. Steven Stokes

There are still more questions than answers when it comes to how the Dothan City School Board can afford to pay out nearly half a million dollars to demote the superintendent.

The action was taken in a 4-to-3 vote in a Saturday morning meeting.

No one seemed to be able to give WTVY News 4 a straight answer.

Citing "lack of cooperation and poor communication from Superintendent Dr. Leon Hobbs, Dothan City School Board Chairman Elect Dr. Steven Stokes says the school board had three options in their meeting. One, to keep Dr. Leon Hobbs as the school superintendent; two, terminate his contract altogether; three, reach an agreement to "buy out" the remainder of his contract. They chose to take option three.

His contract is a five year contract, no cut contract there is no termination clause so if they terminate Dr. Hobbs contract he would've had to be compensated something so we either could negotiate or we could have gone to court and that would have been very expensive litigation."

The agreement reached contains a waiver which prohibits either party from suing the other in the future. And while Stokes says it is the least expensive agreement; it still will cost taxpayers about 450-thousand dollars over the next three years.

With Dothan city schools suffering from proration and cutbacks for the last several years, it was a hard pill to swallow for some board members.

But, Dothan City School Board Chairman Jim Hemby said on Saturday that money wasn't an issue.

Dr. Sam Nichols will serve as interim superintendent. News 4 asked Nichols how the financially strapped school system can afford the contract agreement.

Nichols said "we get an annual allocation from the city that supplements what we do and the monies we received from the state and other local revenues and so any settlement agreement will not have any impact on the city's budget. The monies will have to be paid out of the school budget."

A school budget which according to some board members, has been unable to put music and art teachers in school and has left some teaching positions vacant.

WTVY News 4 tried to contact school board members, David Morales and Gayla White as well as Mayor Sowell. However, none were available for comment.

The next school board meeting will be Aug. 1 at 5 p.m.