Ex-superintendent sues Saugerties for $61,745 in unused sick time

Seth Turner (file photo by Dion Ogust)

Former Saugerties schools superintendent Seth Turner says the school district he headed from 2009 to 2018 owes him $61,745.40 for unused vacation and sick days. When Turner left the district in late September 2018, the school board denied him the money. Last month, he filed a lawsuit.

Turner signed a five-year contract extension on June 9, 2015. His salary for the 2018-19 school was $185,239, which according to his lawsuit equaled nearly $772 per day. Turner is seeking roughly $23,155 for 30 days of unused vacation time, and $38,591 for 50 unused sick days.
Though he claimed to have 149 unused sick days, a clause in Turner’s contract limited the cash-out upon termination of his contract to 50 days. Turner used some vacation time during the month before the termination of his contract last September, but had at least 30 days remaining, the maximum allowed to be bought back in his contract. 

In the court filing, Turner included an undated letter to the school board. He said that board president Robert Thomann had responded in writing that the district rejected Turner’s claim because it did not meet the buyback criteria.

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“This is not accurate,” wrote Turner. “The board accepted my resignation effective September 25, 2018. My employment contract will terminate and obligations under it shall cease as of September 25, 2018. The termination of the contract prompts the obligation to pay the sick leave buyout. To state otherwise suggests resignation is not termination of the contract. It is. If resignation is not termination of the contract, the board would be obligated to continue all benefits including all salary for the remainder of the contract term. I am certainly not asking for that, but it seems that is what Mr. Thomann’s letter suggests.”
Previously a teacher at Boces in Plattsburgh, Turner came to Saugerties in 1997 as a special education teacher in the alternative education program at the high school. In 2000 he became an assistant principal before becoming principal at Grant D. Morse Elementary in 2003. Turner was hired as superintendent in the SCSD in 2009 following the retirement of Richard Rhau. 

Turner left Saugerties to become superintendent at the Amagansett Union Free School District. Amagansett students, all of them in grades kindergarten- through five, move into the East Hampton Union Free School District for middle and high school. There are fewer than 100 students in the district. 

Lawrence Mautone, the district’s deputy superintendent, has served as interim superintendent during the 2018-19 school year. Kirk Reinhardt, principal at Kingston High School, was appointed district superintendent in March. 

Turner, Saugerties school officials and Thomann did not return requests for comment. 

There are 8 comments

  1. P. Teetsel

    Seth Turner is the Forest Gump of NYS educators. A decade ago he was the principle of a little elementary school in the mountains with like 120 students. Then he gets appointed superintendent by a reactionary and uneducated BOE who cared about nothing but getting the cheapest and most loyal stooge possible after many years of fomenting revolution against dem slick outsider “qualified” superintendents. He proceeds to do nothing to distinguish himself whatsoever for 10 years, aside from being the most strident and rigid champion for the cause of “sit and stare” for students who opt out of common core tests at the behest of Cuomo and the dept. of education (just deep, deep levels of toadying here by all involved her e people). Now he gets somewhat higher paying job, though not really considering the higher cost of living on Long Island. Then sues the district that made his incredibly unprobable ascent possible for time he could have taken off but chose not to. He was “working” during that time, and being paid with your tax dollars of course, but he wants even MORE of your tax dollars, for that time that he could have not been working, you know. So somhow even though he got summers off and still needs to be paid for more than the 52 weeks of the year he was working. Just wonderful.

  2. Mh

    How can the Saugerties school district justify paying any employee $ 772.00 a day? Maybe we should be reading about other staff pay rates?

  3. Tax payer

    Thinking just like a gangster Seth! YOU left the school district, remember that! That’s kind of silly for an employer to sign a contract with a employee stating, agreeing to pay for unused time off when employee resignation.

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