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Lawsuit Threat Tables Silva’s Proposal

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CALSTRS is threatening to sue the Tuolumne County Board of Trustees if they approve Superintendent Joe Silva’s new contract proposal.

A letter addressed to Board Chair Sherri Brennan was read aloud at the meeting held this afternoon in the Office of Education meeting room. Silva’s proposal is to resign at the end of the month, and then be re-appointed December 1st at a salary of $40,000, annually for the next two years. By doing this, however, Silva would be able to start receiving money through CALSTRS, the state’s retirement program for teachers and education officials. Silva would receive $154,000 from CALSTRS (90% of his salary this year), on top of the $40,000.

The CALSTRS letter states that the proposal is a violation of Ed Code 24214 (b). It reads, “If a member is retired from service under this part, the rate of pay for service performed by that member as an employee of the employer, as an employee of a third party, or as an independent contractor within the California public school system shall not be less than the minimum, nor exceed that paid by the employer to other employees performing comparable duties.”

The lawyer for the Board, Byron Smith, said he disagreed with CALSTRS interpretation of the code. Silva said after the meeting, “I’m extremely disappointed, and from the comments of the Board, I think they are disappointed also.”

Board members Brennan, Joe Von Herrmanm, Chucker Twinning and Juliana Ferriani all vocally expressed dissatisfaction regarding the stance of CALSTRS. The Board tabled a vote on Silva’s proposal until later this month.  

District officials noted that a school district in Fresno recently approved a similar contract for a superintendent. CALSTRS is also now investigating that situation as well.

Silva argues that the extra money that the district would directly save would help prevent layoffs and furloughs. Silva’s current salary is $169,887.

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