Kearney, NE -- The Kearney School Board met for 6 hours and 32 minutes to listen to testimony and see evidence in the hearing over the contract of Candace Flavell. Administrators say the contract dispute came after she left for two weeks, without approval.
The board spent over an hour in a closed session, deliberating. But the decision of Jon Watts, Julie Agard, Tim Higgins, Dave Glover, Angie Nickel, and Doug McCarty would not be heard.
That's because during the closed session the attorneys for Flavell and the Kearney Public School Administration met and worked out a deal.
The deal stated Flavell will resign at the end of the current school year. She will be placed on administrative leave with pay and benefits for the remainder of the semester. During that time she will look for a new job. If she is unable to find a job by the end of the semester, she will be hired as a paraprofessional at a school the administration will choose. The school system will give her a letter of reference based on her most recent reviews as a teacher. Flavell will also sign a standard release.
Flavell will sign these terms and they will be presented to the School Board at a future meeting.
If she finds a new job she can request to terminate her contract.
Despite keeping her pay and benefits, Flavell was not happy with the decision.
"Very disappointed. And I'm very sad and I'm going to miss my kids a lot. I'm going to miss my school a lot. I work with a lot of great teachers and I'm going to miss them a lot," she said.
The request was made to cancel Flavell's contract after she took two weeks off for religious reasons after her request for the time was rejected.
Flavell has worked for Central Elementary School since 2001 and in her first 12 years she has had her requests for time off approved because she was observing holidays of the Church of God International Community.
This year her request for Sept. 5 off was allowed so she could observe the Feast of Trumpets. She did not need to ask for time off to celebrate the Day of Atonement. It was her request for two weeks off from Sept. 16 through Sept. 27 that was rejected.
She decided to take the time off anyway to drive to Deep Creak, MD to observe the Feast of the Tabernacle. The school administration put her on administrative leave before she could return.
During the hearing the attorney for the administration asked her if she was granted her job back, would she continue to miss the school days even though her superiors did not allow it.
Her response was, "The person with highest power is God and he dictates when I take days off."
Flavell is a certified English Language Learner (ELL) and was the only person at Central Elementary with that certification. She worked with 49 students this school year.
The administration, along with KPS Human Resources, said they decided to reject her request this year because they finally realized the effect the time off was having and that it was causing undo hardship.
The administration said she could not be replaced during these times off by a substitute, like her usual replacement Bernie Johnson, on everything because she was not just teaching. The time off kept her from important meetings that a substitute would not be able to replace her for.
During her two weeks off, Flavell missed 19 Parent Teacher Conferences, one MBT meeting, four SAT meetings, a 2-hour Staff Development meeting, and an all-day RTI Collaboration meeting.
The administration also mentioned the contract Flavell signed which said she would work 185 days out of the school year. It also pointed out that missing 10 days, or 5 percent of the school year, would be considered excessive. In the two previous school years, Flavell missed 11 percent of days each year.
Flavell said that when she was hired by former principal Roger Niflew, he was aware of her schedule issues and was okay with it. Now, she said, she feels like it was pulled out from underneath her.