The board that oversees the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging is considering reinstating former director Johnny Dykes, so the board can fire him again.
Floyd Falcon Jr., an attorney for the Council on Aging, said he is recommending the board take that action to “minimize the exposure” the board has from how it handled Dykes’ dismissal at a board meeting on May 24.
Dykes filed suit in 19th Judicial District Court arguing that his termination was illegal because he received no advance notice and his proposed firing was not on the board’s agenda that day.
Falcon said he is recommending that the Council on Aging rescind its May 24 decision of at a board meeting Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.
The board’s Wednesday agenda calls for discussion of the “possible reinstatement of Johnny Dykes to position of Executive Director and [his] contemporaneous termination.”
Falcon said he is recommending those steps to protect the financial interests of the nonprofit Council on Aging. If a judge rules in Dykes’ favor 10 months or a year from now, Falcon said, the board could potentially face having to pay Dykes’ salary dating back to May 24.
Falcon said his recommendations should not be interpreted as an indication that the board acted improperly when it terminated Dykes.
“It’s an effort to minimize the exposure,” Falcon said. “We’re trying to guard the public’s money.”
Council on Aging board member Julie Cherry said she believes the board acted properly “but it may take some time for this to play out in court.” In the meantime, she said, following Falcon’s recommendations will help protect the agency’s financial interests.
Board Chairman Ernest Stephens did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Dykes and his attorney, J. Arthur Smith III, protested strongly when the board voted 7-3 to terminate Dykes’ services, saying the board was violating the state’s Open Meetings Law.
Smith said Friday the items placed on this week’s board’s agenda “seems to be an effort to do it over. It’s based on the premise that they’ve done wrong.”
He said Dykes should be entitled to back pay dating back to May 24 if the board approves Falcon’s recommendation on Wednesday.
“It would essentially be an acknowledgment that he was illegally fired,” Smith said. “He has not been paid for the time since he was illegally terminated.”
Council on Aging Board member Evert Bennett, one of three members who voted against terminating Dykes, said Dykes “got railroaded out by a bunch of people with their own agenda.”
He said he has nothing against the person named to replace Dykes, Tasha Clark-Amar, but believes Dykes was not treated fairly.
“I just think it was a dirty dog deal the way they got him out,” Bennett said.
Dykes was on paid administrative leave at the time of his termination as a five-member ad hoc committee was investigating complaints by some employees and seniors served by the agency.
The only stated reason given for firing Dykes at the May 24 meeting was that he served at the board’s pleasure and the agency needed to move in a different direction.
Smith said the board’s actions and statements since his dismissal have damaged Dykes’ reputation.
“Mr. Dykes feels his reputation has been smeared,” Smith said. “They were very reckless about the way they’ve done this and we intend to hold them responsible.”
The Council on Aging Board also will discuss Wednesday a written demand from Dykes for payment of 194.45 hours of accrued vacation pay.