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After transfer, Hernando assistant superintendent alleges breach of contract

BROOKSVILLE — Ken Pritz is pushing back against Hernando schools superintendent Lori Romano's decision to strip him of his responsibilities and move him into a new role.

Pritz, 55, one of two assistant superintendents in the district, has retained Brooksville lawyer Bruce Snow to represent him.

In a letter sent to the district on Thursday, Snow argues that Pritz's transfer from overseeing the division of teaching and learning to managing the warehouse and purchasing constituted a breach of contract.

Romano said the district's general counsel has a copy of the letter and that she was advised not to comment on pending litigation.

The contract states that the district may, upon recommendation of the superintendent, transfer an employee, provided that the duties in the new position are similar to the person's original duties, according to Snow.

Snow contends there were two "discrete breaches."

He said the reassignment by Romano did not follow proper procedures. "It's my understanding that the recommendation goes to the School Board," Snow said in an interview. "It is first a recommendation, and then action."

He also argued that the contract prohibits Pritz's reassignment to a new position with different duties.

"The new duties could not be more dissimilar than those that he held as assistant superintendent of teaching and learning," Snow wrote.

Snow requested that the district take immediate steps to fix the breach of contract.

"Hopefully the matter can be professionally resolved in a professional manner," he said in an interview.

Snow said that Pritz is a loyal employee of more than 33 years, dedicated and not a "hand-grenade thrower."

"He respects the process; he respects the administration," he said. "The hope is that reasonable minds will prevail."

On Monday, Pritz was notified of Romano's decision in a letter.

"It has become clear that your actions have been counterproductive to the current direction of the school district," the brief letter began. "Therefore, effective immediately, you will be physically housed at the plant operation site of the school district and will fulfill the job responsibilities of manager of the warehouse and purchasing."

The move came as a blow to Pritz, who said he was "totally shocked." He said he had never received a verbal or written reprimand.

Romano said she and Pritz often had discussed areas of concern. She said that his strength was not in the area of teaching and learning.

Later Monday, district officials, principals and School Board members received a memo that appeared to be from Pritz. "I am excited about this opportunity and look forward to getting back to some of the work in which I was previously involved," part of the memo read.

But Pritz did not write the letter.

"That's troubling," said Snow. "I have not yet addressed that issue."

Danny Valentine can be reached at dvalentine@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1432. On Twitter: @HernandoTimes.

After transfer, Hernando assistant superintendent alleges breach of contract 12/20/13 [Last modified: Friday, December 20, 2013 8:30pm]
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