Michael Spreadbury, a write-in candidate for Helena's school board, said he might sue the school district he hopes to help govern for terminating his employment as a substitute teacher.
In emails sent to school district administrators in March, which was before he filed as a school board candidate, the former substitute teacher accused the school district of wrongful termination and said he has two years to file legal action before the statute of limitations expires.
"How I choose to proceed is my choice, dependent on election results," Spreadbury told the Independent Record after he filed as a candidate. "Please look at this as a natural progression of a qualified person who has tremendous potential to do great things for the Helena community."
Spreadbury is a member of the Helena Area Substitute Cooperative, a union of area substitute teachers, and has repeatedly contacted school administrators about budgeting equal pay for substitute teachers. Spreadbury said he believes more than 50 substitutes in the district are being treated unfairly.
"We will stand up for our cooperative members and feel there is significant misconduct, liability and actionable items to move forward," Spreadbury said in an email.
Spreadbury and Douglas Hansen, another former Helena substitute teacher and current write-in candidate for school board, filed a wage claim against the school district last year. They were petitioning to the Montana Department of Labor and Industry for a half-day's wages for time spent acquiring an identification badge and filing employment paperwork at the May Butler building in Helena.
The state dismissed the clam in late December, ruling that Spreadbury and Hansen were not considered employees at the time the paperwork was filed.
Spreadbury filed another claim with the Department of Labor and Industry earlier this year for the time it took him to complete the mediation process for the prior claim, but the state did not accept that claim.
In a March 15 letter Spreadbury provided to the Independent Record, the school district notified him that his services as a substitute teacher were no longer needed but did not specify why his employment was being terminated. Hansen has also confirmed that he is no longer working in the Helena schools but is out of town until May and could not be reached to provide more information.
The school district declined to comment on the employment status of the two men because it is a personnel matter.
In his emails, which he provided to the Independent Record, Spreadbury said the school district was in violation of school board policies "for retaliation for requesting equal pay for guest teacher employees of the district with the same job duty and responsibilities." Spreadbury said the administration provided "no indication of job deficiency" and that he has "the right to ask the district for 25 years of wages ($50,000)," plus an additional $100,000 for what he believes to be "malicious and negligent egregious conduct" by an administrative employee.
Spreadbury has also called for the termination of that employee for what he believes to be perjury in written statements related to his wage claim, and he told school district officials he believes the employee is "in need of professional help" because her signature on a letter sent to him "takes up the width of an 8.5 inch paper."
"We can take our differences of opinion to court, where I will be seeking $150,000 plus court costs or the district can remove the liability," he said in an email to school district officials.
In the same email, Spreadbury said he would not relinquish his guest teacher identification badge. Instead, he said he had sent the school district a check for 14 cents as a reimbursement for the plastic.
"My likeness (photo) on the district badge and name gives a right to privacy that far exceeds the fear of its mis-use," Spreadbury wrote. "It will not be returned, as I obtained it on my own time without pay as a 'non employee' on July 27, 2018."
Spreadbury told the Independent Record he has filed another grievance, and that he "looks forward to working with the district as a guest teacher for a very long time if not elected to the school board."
"If neither one of those things transpire, I have a decision to make," he said.