The State Court of DeKalb County denied DeKalb Schools’ motion to dismiss our contract lawsuit against the school district. The lawsuit alleges that the $750 liquidated damages clause in the teacher contract is intended to punish teachers and deter them from leaving the school system. In our case, the ODE/GAE members accepted a contract in early April for the upcoming 2014-2015 school year. Had they not accepted the contract, they would have been without gainful employment for the following school year – even though the district had six more weeks to issue notice of non-renewal (May 15). In accordance with state law, they submitted a written letter of resignation prior to June 1, 2014 and had replacements to take their teaching positions for the 2014-2015 school year.
Despite their best efforts to avoid inconvenience to the school district and the students, DeKalb threatened them with an ethics complaint with the Professional Standards Commission for job abandonment and deducted $750 from their final paychecks. We are contending the liquidated damages provision is an invalid penalty clause that should be not be enforced. The Court’s ruling means the case will move forward to the discovery phase.
Chayka Bettis and Leslie Hein v. DeKalb School District, Civil Action.