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AGO 1950 No. 223 - February 21, 1950
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

SCHOOLS -- PAYMENT OF SALARY OF SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT WHEN WRITTEN CONTRACT NOT RENEWED

Payment of superintendent of school's salary can be approved and made without a formal written consent.

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                                                                February 21, 1950

Honorable Edward G. Cross
Prosecuting Attorney
Adams County
Ritzville, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 223

Dear Sir:

            You have requested this office for an opinion on the following question: Can the salary of the superintendent of a school district be paid who has been reemployed by the Board of Directors but who has no written contract?

            Our conclusions may be summarized as follows:

            Payment of the Superintendent's salary can be approved and made without a formal written contract.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            As we understand the facts, the superintendent of the school district was not notified by April 15, 1949, that his contract was not to be renewed for the school year 1949-1950.  However, the Board of Directors has failed to sign a written contract with the superintendent, although the members admit that he has been reemployed under the provisions of the statute.  In addition, the superintendent has been performing all of his duties since the beginning of the school year, but without receiving any salary payments.

            Chapter 52, Laws of 1943 (4776 Rem. Supp. 1943) provides as follows:

            "Every board of directors, unless otherwise specially provided by law, shall have the power and it shall be its duty:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "First:  To employ for not more than one year, and for sufficient cause to discharge teachers, and to fix, alter, allow and order paid their salaries and compensation.  The directors, except in districts of the first class, shall make with each teacher employed by them a written or printed contract, which shall be in conformity with the laws of this state, and every such contract shall be made in duplicate, one copy of which shall be retained by the school district clerk, and the other shall be delivered to the teacher after having been approved and registered by the County Superintendent as by law required.  Every teacher, principal, supervisor or superintendent holding a position as such with a school district, whose employment contract is not to be renewed by the district for the next ensuing term shall be notified in writing on or before April 15th preceding the commencement of such term of the decision of the board of directors not to renew his or her employment and the reason or reasons therefor, andif such notification is not timely given by the district, the teacher, principal, supervisor or superintendent entitled thereto shall be conclusively presumed to have been reemployed by the district for the next ensuing term upon contractual terms identical with those which would have prevailed if his or her employment had actually been renewed by the board of directors for such ensuing term:  Provided, That in union high school districts said written notification shall be given on or before April 30th preceding the commencement of the next ensuing term."  (Emphasis supplied)

            It is our opinion that the language of the statute is clear and free from ambiguity and needs no construction.  A superintendent whose job is not to be renewed for the ensuing term shall be notified in writing on or before April 15th, but if such notification is not given the superintendent is conclusively presumed to have been reemployed and the terms are identical with those of the contract for the previous year.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            Accordingly, there is no reason why the superintendent cannot receive his salary for performing his duties under the contract for the previous year.

            The Board of Directors, however, should sign a new contract for the school year 1949-1950, inasmuch as the statute clearly anticipates that a new contract will be signed.  Nevertheless, the failure of the Board to perform its duty under the statute cannot be used to prevent the payment of the salary of the superintendent.  The legislative intention behind the statute was to cover situations such as the present one.

            It is the opinion of this office, therefore, that the salary of a superintendent who has been reemployed by a school district and is performing his duties must be paid although the Board of Directors has failed to sign a written contract.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

JANE DOWDLE
Assistant Attorney General

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