The Dothan City School Board bought out the contract of former Superintendent Dr. Leon Hobbs last weekend, creating uproar over the price of the settlement - some 440-thousand dollars.
Board members called his contract iron-clad, saying a buyout was the only way to remove him from the position, without leaving the board vulnerable to litigation.
Here are a few things we thought you at home should know.
Now after reviewing these benefits, we dug deeper to answer the other question on everyone's mind - just how iron clad was Hobbs’ contract?
Did the school board have to buy him out?
News 4's Carlos Torres consulted not one, but two attorneys, to find out.
Did former Dothan City School Superintendent Dr. Leon Hobbs have to be bought out? Was termination not an option? The answer may lie here, in a termination clause inside Hobbs’ contract. It says Hobbs could have been fired if, in the opinion of the board, it was in the best interests of Dothan city schools.
Gayla White says “We did look at it - what was in the best interests - and I felt like what was in the best interests of Dothan City Schools, with all the upheaval and uproar and dissention that was going on with the board members, in our schools, and the community as a whole - that obviously came up - how to get out of the contract.”
So why wasn't he just terminated? Board members say that vague language left them open to a lawsuit - a lawsuit that would've far exceeded the buyout. But, that is debatable.
We talked with Attorney Dow Huskey and this is what he had to say, “I believe that a court would hold that the superintendent is not entitled to any additional salary or benefits after the date of termination.”
We also brought the contract to Dothan Attorney Hamp Baxley, who talked about the actual length of the contract, which has been debated.
Baxley said “The contract is friendly to the superintendent especially for one of the addendums to the contract which extends the contract from year to year based on the evaluations.”
And what score did Hobbs need to get for a satisfactory evaluation? According to his contract, 2.6 out of 4.
Baxley said “That initial contract kept going forward every year, every year, every year, and to this year I believe it would expire in 2011.”
That would make it a seven year contract.
And there's one final development that may have made the board member's decision a little easier.
Huskey says “There's also a possibility I think that a court would enter an injunction leaving the superintendent in his position during the term of the litigation. That would most likely be an unworkable situation between the board and the superintendent.”
The board members who signed off on Hobbs’ contract: James Holland, Gail Murphy, Edna McLloyd, Don Owens, Donald Blass, Mary Hogan, and current board member Margaret Johnson.