NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - While the New Hanover County Schools district and its Board of Education continue to deal with the fallout of a third employee being arrested on sex crime charges in the past two years, many parents have turned their frustration toward the district’s administration, including Superintendent Dr. Tim Markley.
Calls for his resignation or firing have been one constant between the community events, public board meetings and social media posts following the arrest of Roland-Grise Middle School band teacher Peter Frank last week.
School board members have declined to comment on Markley’s future with the district, and details of conversations held behind closed doors during the board’s special meetings this week remain confidential under state law.
Markley’s contract, however, is a public record. The document, obtained through a public records request by WECT, details the superintendent’s term with the district, including how much Markley would have to pay if he were to leave before the end of the term as well as what would qualify as “good cause” if the board were to pursue terminating the contract.
Markley and the board first agreed to terms of his four-year contract in August 2010, while Markley was still with Catawba County Schools.
While that agreement specified “discharge for good cause,” a clause obligating Markley to pay liquidated damages should he leave before the end of his term wasn’t included until June 2017, when his contact was amended for a fifth time.
The contract addendum notes Markley would only be required to pay the specified amounts (below) if he left for any reason other than permanent disability, death or termination by the board.
At this time, Markley would be required to pay $50,000, according to his contract.
“The amount paid is to be considered liquidated damages and not a penalty,” the document states.
The addendum also extended his contract until June 30, 2021 and provided for $5,000 increases in salary on July 1 of 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Markley’s contract points to two state statutes for reasons for dismissal for “good and just causes.”
The first, NCGS. § 115C-274, states: “Local boards of education are authorized to remove a superintendent who is guilty of immoral or disreputable conduct or who shall fail or refuse to perform the duties required of him by law.”
The “duties” of a superintendent, outlined in NCGS § 115C-276, are mainly procedural requirements.
The second statute, NCGS. § 115C-325(e)(1), specifically lists 15 grounds for dismissal, ranging from a felony conviction to “advocating the overthrow of the government of the United States or of the State of North Carolina by force, violence, or other unlawful means.” Full list:
- Inadequate performance
- Neglect of duty
- Physical or mental incapacity
- Habitual or excessive use of alcohol or nonmedical use of a controlled substance
- Conviction of a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude
- Advocating for the overthrow of the government of the United States or the State of North Carolina by force, violence, or other unlawful means
- Failure to fulfill the duties and responsibilities imposed upon teachers by the NC General Statute
- Failure to comply with such reasonable requirements as the board may prescribe
- Any cause which constitutes grounds for the revocation of the career employee’s teaching license
- A justifiable decrease in the number of positions due to district reorganization decreased enrollment or decreased funding
- Failure to maintain his or her license in a current statute
- Failure to repay money to the state
- Providing false information or knowingly omitting a material fact on an application for employment or in response to a pre-employment inquiry.
Per the terms of the contract, Markley would have the “right to written charges, notice of hearing and a fair hearing before the Board,” should dismissal be sought.
Neither the original contract nor any of the addendums specifically detail termination without cause, so whether the board would have to buy out the remainder of Markley’s contract if it were to seek termination remains unclear.
The board’s attorney has not yet replied to specific questions regarding Markley’s contract.
For comparison’s sake, WECT also request contracts of other area superintendents, namely Brunswick County Superintendent Dr. Jerry Oates and Pender County Superintendent Dr. Steven Hill.
Both documents stipulate the respective board of education would have to pay severance should the superintendent be terminated without cause.