Two Kaneland school board members voted against accepting Superintendent Jeff Schuler's resignation Monday, questioning what value a contract has if the employee is allowed to quit whenever they want without penalty.
Board member Veronica Bruhl said she has received many phone calls from angry taxpayers about it. "People are very, very unhappy," she said.
Schuler leaves Aug. 29 to become the new superintendent of Wheaton Warrenville District 200. Schuler's contract runs through June 30, 2016.
It addresses his rights if the school board wanted to discipline or fire him but does not contain anything about requiring him to stay through to the end. It says the contract may be modified or terminated at any time if the parties agree.
Bruhl said at her workplace, when people sign a contract to work, they are expected to stay until the end of the contract. The school district will now have extra, unanticipated costs, she said, as it looks for a new superintendent and other people handle Schuler's duties in the meantime.
Board member Tony Valente also voted "no." He said he recalled telling the board several years ago that it shouldn't sign a long-term contract. "There is no guarantee of people staying because of having a contract," Valente said. "Of course, I was shut down as usual."
He suggested the next contract should include a buyout fee, for a departing superintendent to pay for a search for replacement.
Valente said he didn't fault Schuler for leaving, but "the board made a commitment, and that commitment wasn't returned," he said.
"Going forward, we need to make sure there are penalties. There's a lot of things we are out of right now," Bruhl said.
Valente said the district could retain Schuler's administrative certificate until a new superintendent is in place.
"That would be a vindictive act that is unwarranted," board Vice President Teresa Witt said.