Buckley: District cost him money

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 8, 2001

Former Superintendent Dr. Melvin Buckley said he lost money and had to work more years than planned because the Natchez-Adams School District allegedly did not honor a settlement agreement.

&uot;All I’m asking in this situation is to be made whole from the breach of the settlement agreement,&uot; Buckley said.

Buckley testified the school district’s action forced him to work at least five years past his planned retirement and caused him financial loss, and he said he also suffered intangible losses such as spending time with his grandson. &uot;Just do what’s right,&uot; he told the jury.

Buckley is suing the Natchez-Adams School District for allegedly refusing to honor a settlement agreement approved after the school board decided not to renew his contract as superintendent for the 1993-94 school year. Under the agreement he was to perform special projects for the school board for two years earning $18,000 annually. This would have allowed him to earn the 25 years he wanted for state retirement.

The school district argues it did honor the agreement, but that Buckley never signed two copies of the contract, instead submitting one that the district thought was illegal. No version of the contract was ever signed, but Buckley said he found confusion in the details in the initial settlement agreement. He was not sure if they coincided with the terms of the school district’s contract.

&uot;My understanding at (the time of the settlement agreement) was that I would be free to work anywhere and in any capacity that I choose,&uot; Buckley said.

Buckley said he understand he could not be employed by two agencies that were part of the public employee retirement system for retirement purposes.

But he said he thought wording in the district’s contract requiring him to work 240 days a year was different from that of the settlement agreement. &uot;It was to be flexible,&uot; he said. &uot;It was to allow me to work when I wanted&uot; and still qualify for the retirement credit, he said.

The plaintiffs rested their case at about 3 p.m. Thursday. The trial is expected to conclude sometime today.