Clinton City Schools employee Eddie Parker will be taking on a new job title after 13 years of service to the school system — with a pay cut of what Parker says will be one-third of his current salary.
Parker, who began working for Clinton City Schools in 2002, received notice from the system’s superintendent, Dr. Stuart Blount, that he would be changing job titles from Director of Information Services to System Administrator as of June 1. According to Parker, when he received the notification of the change May 5, it was noted that his salary would change as well.
According to Clyde Locklear, director of finance, Parker’s current salary is $7,133 monthly, or approximately $85,596 per year. When asked for Parker’s salary in his new position, Locklear said according to G.S. 115C-320(a)(7) the system has to provide the current salary as public record only. With the information Parker provided, a one-third pay cut would bring his new salary down to approximately $62,000. This change will be effective Monday.
For now, Parker adds, he has sought legal council and is working to appeal the system’s decision.
The change in Parker’s title and salary was reportedly approved following a recent Clinton City Board of Education meeting, held behind closed doors because members were dealing with a personnel issue.
When contacted by The Sampson Independent concerning the board’s vote to make the change in Parker’s job, both Nacole Hayes, Blount’s administrative assistant who takes minutes during board meetings, and Terrace Miller, assistant superintendent of human resources, commented that the vote was taken during closed session — a meeting neither were involved with — and that Blount would have to be contacted to obtain that information.
Blount declined to comment when asked for the same information.
“That is a confidential personnel matter and I can’t discuss it,” Blount said when returning a phone call to his office. “I have no comment on it.”
Blount did provide the information for the board attorney to be contacted regarding the same question addressed to the three city school’s staff members.
Attempts to reach the board’s attorney, who does not work in Sampson County, were unsuccessful.
According to Amanda Martin, legal council for the North Carolina Press Association, votes pertaining to personnel matters cannot be taken in closed session, therefore, she pointed out, the Clinton City Board of Education violated the N.C. Open Meetings Law when they took the vote behind closed doors.
“You can discuss personnel matters in closed session, but the vote must be made in open session,” Martin stressed. “The only case that votes can really be taken in closed session are when they pertain to students who are minors. Student information must remain confidential.”
According to Parker, he was hired in 2002 as a LAN/WAN engineer and was later promoted to Director of Technology Information Systems without a pay increase. In that position, Parker said he was over the daily tasks and technical side of the department.
“I was the nuts and bolts guy behind the technology department,” Parker said.
This new position — that is coming with less money — is simply a title change, with duties remaining the same, according to Parker.
In the last year, Parker, who was having some health problems, says he took family medical leave from work, but at the same time, would come into the office to assist with certain projects when needed.
“I continued to stay in constant contact and assisted with projects they couldn’t handle,” Parker said during a recent interview.
Throughout his medical leave, Parker says he remained in contact with the superintendent, who continued to assure Parker that his job was there at the time he returned to the office on a full-time basis. During the 13 years Parker has been employed with Clinton City Schools, he says his job performance evaluations were always above standard or exceptional.
“I went to Clinton City Schools because I wanted to be involved in education and making a difference in the community,” Parker said.
According to Parker, he was a salaried employee, who often worked beyond the required 40 hours a week, but always did it so the school’s technology system would be the best it could be.
Parker calls Sampson County home and, along with his wife, says he doesn’t want to move away from the area, but with the drastic change in his salary, he says he and his wife are now faced with decisions that have to be made for the best of his family.
“I want to be able to serve this administration, regardless of the situation, and be a part of Clinton City Schools,” Parker said. “But, this action may cause me to leave this area.”