Risk outweighs reward of potential McClain lawsuit

By Stephen Cochrane

Resident, Carmel Valley

The controversial decision by the Del Mar Union School Board’s recent release of Sharon McClain as superintendent will likely spur challengers to file with the Registrar of Voters to run for school board in the November election.

The school board’s legal counsel advised them to remain quiet about the details of McClain’s termination due to employer-employee confidentiality and her threat of litigation. Unfortunately, the public has insufficient information to determine whether the school board or McClain, or possibly a combination of both, were negligent in their respective roles.

Based upon her age, highest pay level and years of experience in public education, McClain will receive an annual pension of $131,720 per year starting immediately. If we deduct her pension from the salary she would have received over the next two years, her gross loss would be $107,560. Since her husband is also a retired school superintendent who is also receiving a substantial state pension, their family income puts them in the highest tax bracket. Consequently, her net loss would only be around $70,000.

Of course, McClain could take other kinds of work, which would reduce this figure. For example, she stated when she was hired that she loves teaching in teacher/administrator preparation programs at the university level, and with her experience I am certain she could acquire one of those positions.

Logically, the risk outweighs the reward for McClain to sue the Del Mar school district. Attorney fees will likely eat away any gains she would receive from a lawsuit. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that she would prevail. Moreover, she would be putting herself through a lot of unnecessary stress. Finally, she would be hurting the children of the Del Mar Union School District by averting money and time towards a legal battle.

I appeal to McClain not to allow emotion to hijack reason. Instead of focusing on the offense of the three people who fired you, put your focus on the many people who gave you a standing ovation. You had a long and successful career, savor your accomplishments, rather than focus on how some people may perceive your performance due to the school board’s decision to release you.

As a parent of a child who will be attending the Del Mar Union School District in several years, I would like to know the rationale for releasing two superintendents during the past two years who previously had successful track records. An interesting school board race that would reveal answers to the community’s unanswered questions would be if Sharon McClain, Tom Bishop and Linda Crawford ran as a slate and went head-to-head against Annette Easton, Steven McDowell and Katherine White in the November school board election.