Archive for Sunday, January 13, 2013

School board to consider legal settlement

January 13, 2013


The Lawrence school board will consider paying out $25,000 to settle a wrongful termination claim by a former employee.

The school board meets at 7 p.m. Monday at the district office, 110 McDonald Drive.

According to a memo to the board from assistant superintendent Kyle Hayden and attorney David Cunningham, the claim was filed by Barbara Wolf, a former tech support specialist who was fired in October 2010.

The district's liability insurance company has recommended settling the claim for $30,000. The district's policy has a $25,000 deductible, meaning that's how much the district itself would have to pay. The insurance company would pay the balance.

In other business, the board will consider appointing a negotiating team for the upcoming round of contract negotiations with teachers.

The proposed team would be led by Hayden. Other members would include Cunningham; board members Randy Masten and Vanessa Sanburn; Deerfield Elementary principal Joni Appleman; and Lawrence High principal Matt Brungardt.


Cant_have_it_both_ways 4 years, 8 months ago

WOW just WOW... with the current structure around educational employees, this woman must have really stepped on it to be removed. If so this is another clear cut reason that tenure or more specifically, the employment conditions should be moved to a performance based system or at a minimum a contract to hire type system.

aRobot 4 years, 8 months ago

If I remember correctly this lawsuit had to do with district equipment (projectors) that were being rented out or sold to local businesses, and this employee, Barbara Wolf, reported that activity. That would indicate that some sort of illegal activity may have been taking place, this person reported it, and then lost their job because of it. Since the district is now paying out $30,000 to settle this claim I would say there might be some merit to what this former employee had to say.

School board - care to probe this one? Wasn't law enforcement involved in this at one point? Was there an investigation?

It would be mighty interesting if it turned out that there was illegal activity taking place and upper level administration covered it up and fired the people who raised concerns. Mighty interesting indeed...

NotRelated 4 years, 8 months ago

If you don't like our district paying this sum of money for wrongful termination cases then take a look at the practices and attitudes of Cunningham, Hayden, and the rest of their peers.

The school board must ask why this happened.

Can we, for a change, hold these administrators responsible for their actions?

aRobot 4 years, 8 months ago

There's the link to the original story. Looks like it is a whistleblower lawsuit, and the district is now settling. I'd say that's pretty good reason for some further inverstigation.

headdoctor 4 years, 8 months ago

There may or may not have been wrong doing. I suspect if the Insurance company is hoping to settle with that small of amount for wrongful termination. It isn't about right or wrong. It is about getting off for less money than what a full length trial would cost on top of still possibly paying a settlement.

aRobot 4 years, 8 months ago

If you look at the original article it says that Mrs. Wolf just wanted her job back. That doesn't sound like someone who wants to drag the school district through the courts just to get a payout.

Plus, Mrs. Wolf was probably only making about $30,000 per year so it's not like she had a bunch of money to spend on her own legal fees. Risking massive debt or bankruptcy just to make false claims against the school district doesn't make any sense to me. Not that I can speak for any of the parties involved, but it makes no sense to me. If you're going to pursue a frivolous lawsuit why not go after a private company so you can get a real payout. People don't sue school districts to get rich. Maybe in situations like this one it's about setting the record straight.

aRobot 4 years, 8 months ago

LJW - I do not believe that Dave Cunningham at USD497 is actually an attorney. It doesn't say that anywhere on the USD497 website, and Cunningham doesn't even claim to be an attorney on his own LinkedIn page. Could someone fact check that?

I am confused why the original article claims that Pete Curran is the attorney representing the district in this case, but the new story says Cunningham is the attorney. If Cunningham is an actual attorney then why is the school district hiring outside lawyers to represent them in personnel issues?

Cant_have_it_both_ways 4 years, 8 months ago

If the above is true, then this woman, after exhonorated should be rehired into a position of authority and those who's integrety is lacking should be fired. These are public employees thus the whole file on all involved should be made public.

NotRelated 4 years, 8 months ago

It does seem that these admins have forgotten the public employee part. Good point.

racerx 4 years, 8 months ago

Of course the insurance company recommends settlement at $30k. That leaves them on the hook for only $5,000 ($30,000 - $25,000 deductible). If it goes to trial, they could end up paying a lot more than that. The district, however, pays $25,000 regardless if it's a $30k settlement or a $200k judgment. So, school district might as well roll the dice on a trial.

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