ILLINOIS APPELLATE COURT RULES THAT ASSOCIATE SUPERINTENDENT'S RELIANCE ON ALLEGED ORAL PROMISES FROM THE SUPERINTENDENT DID NOT INVALIDATE THE CONTRACT
In a major ruling regarding school administrator contracts, the Illinois Appellate Court held that a board of education properly dismissed an associate superintendent pursuant to an early termination clause in her employment contract.
In Ungurait v. Peoria Public Schools No. 150, successfully defended by Stan Eisenhammer and Michelle Todd, the appellate court upheld the trial court's dismissal of Ungurait's initial complaint.
|Dr. Michelle Ungurait|
This case centered on the employment of Dr. Michelle Ungurait as the Associate Superintendent of Schools. Ungurait relocated to Illinois from North Carolina prior to entering into a written agreement with the board of education memorializing the terms of her employment.
During her first year as Associate Superintendent, the board terminated Ungurait's employment with the school district under an "early termination" provision of Ungurait's contract. The early termination clause provided that the board could terminate the administrator's employment, without cause, if the board provided the administrator with 30 days' notice of the termination and paid the administrator the remainder of her salary for the contract year.
After the board's termination of the employment contract, Ungurait filed her complaint arguing that the Superintendent had made oral promises to her in order to elicit her relocation and employment with the district which rendered the employment agreement unenforceable.
In its decision, the appellate court found that the early termination provision of the contract was enforceable because the board complied with the notice provision and salary payout as defined by its own written terms. Moreover, the court concluded that the executed employment contract between the parties barred Ungurait from arguing that she relied on alleged oral representations from the Superintendent regarding the terms of her employment– including contract term, salary and benefits. The court definitively held that the express terms of the employment agreement barred any of her claims for damages related to oral promises made by the district.