No deal yet for OESJ head

OPPENHEIM – Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville Central School District officials are still working on an agreement with Superintendent Laura Lawrence, according to her attorney.

Kevin Luibrand, Lawrence’s attorney, said Friday night that negotiations were held throughout the day. No deal was reached between Lawrence, who was placed on administrative leave in November, and the district’s Board of Education, but negotiations could continue over the weekend, Luibrand said.

“The negotiation is ongoing; I believe we are close to the agreement,” he said.

Lawrence is on paid administrative leave for reasons the school district has not revealed to the public. Lawrence continues to receive her salary of $110,500 a year while the district pays interim Superintendent Thomas Gallagher $500 per day.

The school board voted Thursday to give Lawrence until 5 p.m. Friday to decide whether to accept a settlement offer to step down or face civil charges. School officials refused to provide any details about the offer Thursday.

Joseph DeTraglia, an attorney representing the district, would not say Thursday what type of civil charges Lawrence could face if she refuses to accept the offer.

When asked about the civil charges, Luibrand explained the district could accuse Lawrence of violating her contract, which would lead to the matter going into arbitration.

Luibrand said the negotiations are far enough along that he does not believe the district will accuse Lawrence of violating her contract.

According to the attorney, this is also not the first time the district has used that threat; Luibrand said the board has used that threat since November.

“Our view from the beginning is that there is no basis to file any charges against her,” Luibrand said. “She has done a tremendous job in the past.”

Lawrence was named superintendent last May. She served as the St. Johnsville Central School superintendent from the beginning of the 2012-13 school year and as deputy superintendent before that. Before becoming superintendent, Lawrence was the principal at St. Johnsville’s elementary school for six years.

“A settlement is in progress,” DeTraglia said Friday night.