After officially notifying Jefferson-Craig Principal Rhonda Pennington in December that her contract may not be renewed, the Switzerland County School Board took no other official action at its meeting this past Monday, and in doing so allows her contract to renew for another year.
According to Indiana code 20-28-8-3: “(a) Before February 1st of the year during which the contract of an assistant superintendent, a principal, or an assistant principal is due to expire, the governing body of the school corporation, or an employee at the direction of the governing body, shall give written notice of renewal or refusal to renew the individual’s contract for the ensuing school year.
“(b) If notice is not given before February 1st of the year during which the contract is due to expire, the contract then in force shall be reinstated only for the ensuing school year.”
The code states that a school board must give notice to the administrator at least 30 days before the February 1st deadline, and that’s what the school board did at its December 19th meeting.
At that meeting, the school board voted 5-2 to inform Rhonda Pennington that it was considering non-renewal, with board members Nancy Peters, Bill Roberts, Wayne Daugherty, Vern Waltz, and Tonya Moore voting in favor of the motion and members Jim Phipps and Andy Truitt voting against the motion.
Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Jones stated that the 30-day notice is in place in the code so that both sides can meet and discuss issues and the administrator can be presented with documentation of things that need to be improved. She said that the administrator also has the right to request an in-person meeting with the school board, and Rhonda Pennington did request such a meeting and it was held.
At Monday night’s meeting, with the February 1st deadline looming, the school board met in executive session at 4 p.m., with school board member Vern Waltz not in attendance because he was on vacation in Florida.
The agenda included an item concerning the non-renewal of the contract; but at the beginning of the public meeting in the section where the school board officially adopts the agenda, Superintendent Jones recommended that the school board adopt the agenda as presented, but included the elimination of that portion of the agenda in her recommendation.
The board then passed the agenda without the measure; and has no plans to meet again before the February 1st deadline.
At the conclusion of the meeting, board member Nancy Peters said that she was disappointed that the matter of the non-renewal was not brought to a public vote so that the public could have seen where the members of the school board stood on the issue, but the meeting was adjourned without further comment or motion.