West Jefferson Hills settlement with principal released
The West Jefferson Hills School District agreed to pay an $85,000 settlement to former Gill Hall Elementary Principal Tina Mayer when it parted ways with the longtime employee.
Details of the settlement agreement approved by school board members on Aug. 13 were released to the Tribune-Review on Sept. 20 through a Right-to-Know request sought from the district under the state’s Open Records law.
Neither Mayer nor her lawyer, D. Scott Lautner, responded to requests for comment.
West Jefferson Hills solicitor Robert McTiernan of Tucker Arensberg said the district had no comment.
Board members in August approved the hiring of longtime Pleasant Hills Middle School educator Adam Zunic as the new principal of Gill Hall, starting in the 2019-20 school year.
The settlement with Mayer outlines how she will be paid the $85,650 to settle with the district “all pay, benefits and/or disputes, controversies, and differences between them,” according to the settlement.
As part of the settlement, Mayer will continue to receive her 2018-19 salary — totaling $54,044 — on a bi-weekly basis until Dec. 31. If she obtains other employment, the amount will be paid in a lump sum, the settlement states.
The district also agreed to pay Mayer $8,469 for days that she was on unpaid leave during the 2018-19 school year; $15,537 for accrued vacation benefits; $6,600 in compensation for sick and personal days; and $1,500 of her legal fees to Lautner, according to the settlement.
In the settlement provided to the Trib, the district “redacted personal identifying information … and information regarding the discipline, demotion or discharge of a district employee that is maintained in the employee’s personnel file,” Tracy Harris, the district’s Open Records Officer stated in the response.
School board members in June approved a “statement of charges providing for the proposed discharge of a professional employee,” a requirement under the state’s Public School Code for a permanent tenured employee facing dismissal. District leaders would not name the employee, other than to say the employee’s name was on the district website. The district denied the Trib a copy of the statement of charges. The Trib is appealing the decision to the state’s Office of Open Records.
On Aug. 13, board members approved a resolution, withdrawing the statement of charges and approving a confidential settlement with the unnamed employee.
The Trib sought a copy of that settlement on Aug. 15 and was provided with Mayer’s settlement on Sept. 20.
The settlement releases the district from all claims, complaints, grievances, liabilities and obligations. However, the settlement states, that nothing in the document is intended to interfere with or deter Mayer’s right to challenge the waiver of an Age Discrimination Employment Act claim or state law age discrimination claim, or the filing of any such discrimination claims.
Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas records indicate Mayer filed a writ of summons for an employment dispute with the district in March. The dispute was not directly mentioned in the copy of the settlement provided to the Trib.