The East Ramapo school system could be on the hook for a few hundred thousand dollars based on a recent state Supreme Court decision in favor of a former schools superintendent who sued the district for breach of his contract, The Journal News/Lohud.com reports today.
Ira Oustatcher, who preceeded current Superintendent Joel Klein, was demoted from the top job in March 2011 and reassigned as principal of Pomona High School. The district cut his pay from $252,000 to $154,248. In a lawsuit filed in December, Oustatcher claimed he was owed more than $97,700 to date because his contract was breached.
The former superintendent’s five-year contract states that he can be reassigned within the district but is entitled to keep his annual salary of $252,000 as long as the district hasn’t invoked certain provisions of the contract, such as “inability to perform duties.” The district is obligated to pay the higher rate until it ends in March 2013, according to the lawsuit, which also demands an unspecified amount of damages, interest and attorney’s fees.
“Since the terms of the parties’ contract are clear and unambiguous, they must be enforced,” Acting Supreme Court Justice Victor Alfieri Jr. wrote in his decision. The ruling said the court would determine damages at a later date.
Oustatcher’s lawyer, Michael Starvaggi, told The Journal News yesterday that he expected his client’s $252,000 salary to be reinstated in the “immediate future.”
Albert D’Agostino, attorney for the school district, declined to comment yesterday on the decision and whether the district would appeal. In court papers filed earlier this year, East Ramapo district officials claimed Oustatcher had breached his contract and outlined a series of wrongdoings they said contributed to the district’s continuing financial crisis.
This is the judge’s decision: