Updated 07/20/2011 10:30 PM
J-E Board of Education rejects settlement offer
The Jordan-Elbridge Board of Education has decided to continue moving forward with pending lawsuits, despite a settlement offer that would have ended all current and future litigation. The settlement would have also required the district to give three suspended or fired employees their jobs back. But as our Katie Gibas reports, district officials say the charges are too serious to ignore.
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ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. --It's been a busy few weeks for the new Jordan-Elbridge Superintendent. On his first day, James Froio received a notice of a settlement offer from the lawyers representing fired and suspended district employees. The plan would have cost the district more than $900,000.
"I don't think that any of us really took the settlement proposal very seriously. It's a very expensive option obviously for the district. We think the district's charges have merit. And we want to see what the results of that is," said James Froio, the Jordan-Elbridge Superintendent.
Those named in the suit are suspended high school principal David Zehner, suspended Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance William Hamilton and fired treasurer Anthony Scro. The settlement would have required the district to return the three to work, pay attorneys fees and modest compensation in exchange for the lawyers agreeing to end all current and future claims against the district.
"To us this was an opportunity missed because the next step is going to have it escalate. That's going to be expensive. It's going to be disruptive and it's unfortunate," said Dennis O'Hara, the lawyer for suspended J-E employees.
The lawyers say it is now likely that the three suspended officials will sue the district for personal injury and damages.
Community members rallied behind Zehner, Scro and Hamilton since the beginning and they're biggest issue of contention through all of this has been the lack of information regarding the charges against the individuals. But Superintendent James Froio says despite those not being public, he and the board are in full agreement on the severity of the charges.
"I think there's a lot of merit to them and they concern me. And they concern the board of education for this school district, and for that reason we're moving forward with them. They have to present their case to a hearing officer instead of to the public. This case has been tried everywhere except where it's supposed to be tried," said Froio.
O'Hara says the case against Zehner will likely be brought before a hearing officer sometime in September.
The lawyers tell YNN they're not releasing the charges against Zehner because they mention students. They also want to be clear that none of the allegations include any type of improper contact with students. They say the charges are along the lines of failing to properly discipline students and incorrectly filling out paperwork.