Vickie Williams has won her day in court and will spend the next year at home, drawing full principal’s pay.
On May 22, 2019, Williams was handed a letter of demotion by Superintendent Brent Vidrine and assigned her to the Sherrouse Alternative School as a nine-month teacher.
The demotion came as a result of Williams’ reporting to the district that there were discrepancies in the deposits made by one of her staff members.
When Williams made the report, the district investigated the claim and learned that reportedly several thousand dollars were mismanaged or not accounted for by an office staffer.
Williams herself was not involved in the mismanaged funds and never touched any school money. As soon as she discovered what appeared to be a discrepancy, she reported it to Vidrine.
Williams told the media in May that she has not been one of Vidrine’s favorite principals. She said, he used her voluntary discrepancy report as a reason to force her out as principal of Shelling Elementary. The employee responsible for the alleged discrepancy was allowed to retire without incident.
Williams lawyered up and decided to fight the demotion because tenured teachers cannot be arbitrarily fired or demoted without written charges. The law only allows tenured educators to be fired or demoted based on unprofessional conduct, incompetence, dishonesty, or neglect of duty.
Since Vidrine’s letter cited no claims, Williams filed suit on July 24, 2019, represented by Brian F. Blackwell of Baton Rouge.
The suit claims that the demotion and transfer will harm her professionally, and she “will suffer irreparable injury and loss.” It demanded that Williams should be reinstated as principal of Shelling Elementary.
The hearing on the suit was held on August 8, 2019. Two school board members attended the hearing before Judge Wilson Rambo: Betty Cooper and Sharon Neal-Greer.
After the hearing, a sealed settlement was reached. No reason was given for sealing the settlement.
However, the Free Press has learned from knowledgeable sources that the settlement will not require Williams to report to either Sherrouse Alternative School where she was reassigned or report to Shelling Elementary, but she will continue to receive her monthly pay until June of 2020, with full benefits.
Another part of the settlement is reportedly being hammered out; it involves a possible settlement relating to the board exposing Williams to public humiliation and defamation that negatively impacted her image and ability to continue as a professional educator.
That settlement is expected to be larger than the breach of contract settlement. Williams earned $79,000 a year as principal of Shelling Elementary. With benefits and bonuses her pay settlement will reportedly be in the $90,000 neighborhood, plus the cost of her attorney fees and filing costs.
The settlement sidesteps her request to be re-instated at Shelling Elementary since Vidrine quickly hired someone else at the school.
The Free Press caught up with Williams and asked what she will do for the next year. She said she could not comment on the matter which is still unresolved.
She won’t report to class at Sherrouse, and she won’t’ report to work as principal either.
But she’ll still get full pay.