Thursday, March 1, 2012

CMS pondering $1 million teacher verdict

How will Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools respond to last week's jury award of $1.1 million to a former teacher?  Don't expect immediate answers, CMS general counsel George Battle III said Wednesday.

In a closed meeting late Tuesday night,  Battle briefed the school board on the Jeffrey Leardini case.  In a federal civil suit,  Leardini testified he was coerced to resign immediately after students at Community House Middle accused him of improperly touching them.  Had he not been misled by a CMS employee relations specialist,  he and his lawyers argued, he'd have had a chance to preserve a successful teaching career.  The jury agreed, siding with Leardini on all counts.

Options could include seeking a new trial or appealing to the Fourth Circuit Court, Battle said.  The district has 28 days to file post-trial motions,  he said,  and a decision about appeals would come after the judge rules on motions.

Whatever CMS ends up paying won't come out of money for classrooms,  Battle and interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh said.  The district has insurance to cover some awards, and also keeps an emergency reserve fund.

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