Teacher who quit suddenly owes district thousands

Port High educator who left officials scrambling to cover his classes owes damages, pre-paid salary
By 
BILL SCHANEN IV
Ozaukee Press staff

A Port Washington High School teacher did something last week that educators rarely do. Without advanced notice, he quit during the school year, leaving Port High scrambling to fill his position and administrators working to collect the thousands of dollars — some of which is salary he was paid but did not earn — he owes the district, officials said Monday.

Communications teacher Jakub Cychowski notified administrators on Friday, Sept. 7, that he was quitting and would not be at work on Monday.

“If I can be of any assistance during this transition, please let me know,” Cychowski wrote in his Sept. 7 letter of resignation.

Port Washington-Saukville School Supt. Michael Weber said, “During the time I’ve been here, this is the first resignation like this we’ve had.

“Ethically, you should give employers at least two weeks notice.”

The School Board on Monday voted to accept Cychowski’s resignation but only if he satisfies three conditions — return any school district materials or equipment he may have, pay $2,000 in liquidated damages for quitting after the deadline for resignations as specified in his contract and repay the portion of his salary he received but had not yet earned. The amount of salary he owes the district is still being calculated, but Director of Business Services Jim Froemming told the board it is more than $1,000.

The district has 26 pay periods, and to fit those into the roughly 10-month school year, teachers occasionally receive paychecks more often than every other week and end up being pre-paid for their work. This school year, paychecks were issued on Aug. 31 and Sept. 7. 

Weber told the School Board that if Cychowski doesn’t comply with the conditions set by the board, the district will not release him from his contract and he technically can’t sign a new one with another district. In reality, however, there’s nothing to stop another district from hiring him.

Cychowski, a Milwaukee resident who was hired last year as an 80% communications teacher, left Port High to teach full time in the Milwaukee Public Schools system, Weber said.

Working over the weekend to make sure students in Cychowski’s classes had a teacher by Monday, the school arranged to have veteran substitute Lynn Bannon fill in. Administrators said they plan to interview an experienced teacher they described as a “very promising candidate” for the position.

Although a shock, Cychowski’s resignation is a symptom of the time, Weber said. 

“There’s a fairly significant shortage of teachers, so we’re seeing more movement among teachers and more opportunities for them to break contracts and accept new ones,” he said. “And ethics, such as giving your employer two weeks notice, seem to be less of a concern with teachers in low supply.”

Weber said that if Cychowski does not pay the district the money he owes, the School Board may be asked to initiate legal action against him.

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