An assistant principal was informed in writing in September 2013 that his annual salary of $79,988 would be reduced for the next school year (2014-2015) to reflect his assignment at a middle school. In June 2014, the school district board of trustees adopted a salary schedule that specified a salary range of $59,400 to $76,500 for middle school assistant principals. The last day the assistant principal could resign from his contract for the 2014-2015 school year was July 11, 2014. On Sept. 11, 2014, the assistant principal was notified his salary had been reduced to $73,000. He filed a grievance, arguing that the district had illegally reduced his salary at a time when he could no longer resign from his contract without permission. The school district board of trustees denied the grievance and it was appealed to the commissioner of education.

The commissioner of education held that the district could reduce the assistant principal’s salary. A school district cannot reduce an educator’s salary after the 45th day prior to the first day of instruction for the upcoming school year without previously warning the educator about the upcoming salary reduction. According to the commissioner, the warning must be formal and specific with regard to the amount of the decrease. This is because after that time, the educator cannot resign from the contract if the salary is not acceptable.

However, in this case, the school district informed the assistant principal that his salary would be reduced to reflect his assignment. In this case, the commissioner held that a written notice from the human relations office was sufficiently formal. The commissioner disagreed with the principal’s argument that the notice was insufficiently specific, noting that even though the assistant principal did not know the exact amount that his salary would be, he could look at the salary schedule and determine that his salary could potentially be reduced to the bottom of the salary range. Based on that information, he could have decided to seek a job elsewhere based on the minimum salary the district offered for his position.

The commissioner of education denied the grievance.