Woodley fired
School super considers further legal action

Cindy MacDougall
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 22/99) - Just two weeks after his suspension was quashed by the courts, Dr. Ken Woodley has been fired from his job as public school board superintendent.

During a meeting Tuesday night, the board of Yellowknife Education District No. 1 passed a motion to terminate Woodley's employment with 'cause'.

The board voted five to zero in favour of firing Woodley, according to chair Dan Schofield. The vote was held in a public meeting, but the debate on the motion was held in camera.

Woodley provided Yellowknifer with a letter from the board outlining grounds for his dismissal.

"The accusations are unfounded," Woodley said. "They're insupportable. I see another unfair action against me, and I won't be quiet anymore."

The letter states Woodley authorized a breach of the Child Abuse Protocol and the Child Welfare Act by requiring a district employee to "consult management before reporting an allegation of child abuse."

Woodley is also accused of not informing the board he was using district funds to pay his lawyer, Austin Marshall, for services Woodley knew "or ought to have known would not be approved" by the district.

Furthermore, the board's letter says Woodley failed to tell the board of an offer to settle a court case made by the defendant, Laurie Sarkadi.

Woodley filed a lawsuit against Sarkadi and CJCD radio after an interview was aired about child abuse accusations against a teacher. CJCD issued a formal apology.

Finally, the letter accuses Woodley of insubordination.

After being suspended with pay last June, Woodley was reinstated as superintendent on Oct. 6. Supreme Court Justice Virginia Schuler ruled the suspension was unfair because Woodley was not given the chance to answer the allegations made against him. However, she said the board could continue with dismissal proceedings as long as Woodley could respond to the board, either orally or in writing. He responded in writing.

Board chair Dan Schofield refused to comment on the letter. Interim superintendent Judith Knapp did not return telephone calls.

Woodley said he is considering new legal action against the board in response to the dismissal.

"I haven't made up my mind about this (legal action)," Woodley said. "But I will not be quiet and allow this to be swept under the rug of confidentiality any more.

"It's me, it's my profession and I am willing to share this with the public."

Marshall said Woodley also plans to fight for the separation pay outlined in his contract.

Since the board dismissed Woodley with cause, Woodley will not receive separation pay.

If he had been dismissed without cause, the board would have had to pay him two years salary plus two months salary for every year he had worked as superintendent for the district.

Woodley made $100,000 a year and held his position for three years. His contract was a continuing contract with a performance review every two years.

Marshall said Woodley will now proceed with the Sarkadi lawsuit, which went by the wayside during the judicial review of his suspension.