Terminated Howell Public Schools Superintendent Seeks Arbitration
Wednesday, December, 3, 2014
The Howell Public Schools Board of Education in Michigan voted 6 to 1 to terminate Ron Wilson, Superintendent of the Howell Public School system. The reason for the termination involved a mileage reimbursement charge totaling $309.33 that the BOE claimed Wilson knowingly put in for despite not being eligible for under his contract.
Wilson stated he was disappointed in the board’s decision, and that he was contemplating a lawsuit under Michigan’s “whistleblower” protections. In the short term, he has pursued arbitration to resolve his claim of wrongful termination.
Wilson was contractually entitled to $450 a month as an “automobile stipend.” Despite this he still filed an expense report claiming the $309.33 in further mileage charges, which the BOE determined was an open attempt to defraud the school system. Wilson and his attorney at the meeting claimed that the mileage was for school business outside the district and thus was a legitimate expense claim.
Wilson was under contract until 2017 and earned over $160,000 per year. While Wilson declined to specify what would qualify him as a “whistleblower” under Michigan law, he did confirm that he would be pursuing litigation against the BOE as a whole and individual members specifically for wrongful termination and other issues.
The BOE described the decision as “difficult” and announced that Cassandra Harmon-Higgins, who has been serving as Executive Director of Labor Relations and Personnel for the school district, will continue to serve as interim superintendent until a permanent replacement can be installed.