- The Washington Times - Monday, March 19, 2007

The D.C. schools superintendent yesterday won a temporary reprieve from being held in contempt in a case involving two former public school employees.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Henry F. Greene gave the school system and the former employees’ attorney, Stewart Fried, until today to reach an agreement in lieu of a contempt finding.

Mr. Fried filed a contempt motion in D.C. Superior Court last Tuesday against Superintendent Clifford B. Janey because the school system had not fully complied with a ruling in favor of Stephenos Ulis and Alfred Richards, who, an administrative judge found, were illegally fired in 2004.

Mr. Ulis and Mr. Richards were terminal managers at the D.C. Public Schools transportation administration, when they were fired by court-appointed transportation administrator David Gilmore.

Mr. Fried said he had been told by the school system that his clients’ jobs would be reinstated within the D.C. school’s Office of Facilities Management next Monday and as of yesterday was negotiating an order to submit to the judge today.

At a hearing yesterday, Daniel Rezneck, an attorney for the D.C. school system, argued against the contempt order, saying the pending appeal of the original judgment could reverse it.

Mr. Ulis and Mr. Richards won an administrative judgment under the D.C. Office of Employee Appeals in September, but the school system did not comply with the ruling.

As a result, the men sued in D.C. Superior Court and won a judgment that enforces the administrative ruling for back pay and reinstatement of benefits and their former jobs or equivalent positions. The final deadline was set for Thursday.

To date, the District has paid the men $400,000 in back pay, officials said.

Mr. Fried said after taxes, each man received about $90,000. He said a computer error led to “excessive withholdings,” which he has asked be corrected.

If an agreement is not made today, the judge might rule on the contempt motion involving Mr. Janey.

“This is extremely unorthodox for a government agency to not comply for so long to the point that the case gets this far,” Mr. Fried said. “They made my clients jump through so many hoops.”

Documents filed by the school system from previous court hearings said there were no equivalent positions available.

Mr. Fried said the superintendent has the authority to create new jobs.

Mr. Gilmore, who was appointed by a federal court in 2003 to reform the transportation division, is not accountable to the superintendent or the D.C. Board of Education. He has said that he refuses to reinstate the men because he does not think they are adequate employees.

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