Principals upset over pay cuts

Kyle Lovern/WDN Williamson Pre-K 8 Principal Shannon Blackburn is pictured at Tuesday night’s Mingo County Board of Education meeting. Blackburn and 18 other administrators have filed a grievance against the school system over salary cuts.

EAST WILLIAMSON – Several principals in the Mingo County School system are upset over pay cuts and a letter they recently received saying they would have to pay back what was deemed as overpayments.

Dr. Doug Ward, principal at Burch Elementary, and Shannon Blackburn, principal at Williamson Pre-K 8, both appeared before the Mingo County Board of Education (BOE) at Tuesday’s regular monthly meeting and gave impassioned presentations about the matter. Several other principals were also in attendance.

Ward said the fact that certain principals were sent notices that they had to pay back some of their salary was simply “retaliation” for filing a grievance. “I feel we are being disrespected.”

Ward said 19 principals filed a grievance. “The principals’ association is respectfully asking that all the evidence be entered into record.”

“We are very demoralized,” Ward said of the principals involved.

Ward started out his speech by saying he wanted to reply to the letter sent out the first of June. “I consider this a breach of contract and I wish this to be entered into the board of education minutes. I ask the board members to review the letter that was sent to me and others.”

Ward said there were no stipulations about “repayment.”

Blackburn told the BOE that his salary was approved by the state when they were in charge of the Mingo County Schools back when he was hired as principal. He said his starting salary was approved at $68,819, but then received a letter that he would get a pay cut of $7,995.

Blackburn said it is public record and was sent to the state.

The Williamson principal said that he found out in January about the pay cut on his salary for next year.

Blackburn stated he was told that the salary cut would not happen this year, but next year.

“The way I do business and where I’m from – if someone says they are going to pay you an amount for the work you’ve done, they pay it,” he stressed.

“I think this is a breach of contract,” Blackburn said. “We received an administrator e-mail saying we were overpaid!”

Blackburn then said “Now you want us to pay money back? I want to go on record and say I do not owe the Mingo County Board of Education money. They owe me.”

“Principals and their families are affected by this,” he added. “You are taking bread off of their tables. It is not right for the hard work that we do.”

“I can’t help to feel slighted and gypped,” said Blackburn.

“This is simply wrong,” Blackburn said. “I think the school board could still make this right.”

“The BOE followed advice that was given by a very experienced attorney who has handled legal questions for numerous BOEs across the State of West Virginia,” said BOE President David Farley. “A mistake was discovered in the pay and it was corrected.”

Richard Duncan, Human Resources Director for Mingo County Schools, said that the office could not currently make a comment on the grievance since it is a legal matter.

Besides Ward and Blackburn, the other principals filing the grievance are John Branch, Phyllis White, Julia Collins, Donna England, Daniel Mark Dean, Leah Wireman, Teresa Jones, Ashley White, Tammy Salmons, Theresa Hanshaw, Tamra Farley, Don Spence, Helen Curry, Marsha Maynard, Deborah Starr, Sabrina Runyon and Daniel Dean.

(Kyle Lovern is the Editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277 or on Twitter @KyleLovern.)

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