The Bibb County school board voted unanimously Wednesday night to settle a lawsuit over employment contracts for the last superintendent, Romain Dallemand.
The board held several votes, all unanimous, involving the settlement agreement with Brad DeFore, who will be given a check of $17,046.50 through his attorney, Charles E. Cox of Macon.
Board member Jason Downey, an attorney who made the motions to settle the lawsuit, said he couldnt say who approached whom to settle the lawsuit, but said both sides were happy.
I think everybody is ready to move forward, Downey told reporters.
As part of the settlement, the school board does not admit it did anything wrong. The school board denied DeFores legal claims in court filings.
DeFore filed the lawsuit in January, claiming the school board made illegal contracts with Dallemand. DeFore also alleged that the school system violated the state Open Meetings Act when Dallemands last contract was voted on through a public motion that didnt match the actual contract. Major parts of the document, including another $198,000 in severance pay, were not part of the motion but were discussed in a closed-door meeting, known as executive session.
The settlement agreement does not show whether the $17,046.50 includes money for damages or is solely for attorneys fees. DeFore also agreed not to file another lawsuit over the same matters and will praise the deal.
The parties acknowledge and agree that the Board will encourage its members, and DeFore acknowledges it is his intent, to generally comment when asked if they are pleased the matter was resolved amicably and believe that such resolution is in the best interest of the public and the students who attend school in the School District, the agreement reads.
On Feb. 25, the school board agreed to buy out Dallemands contract for $350,000 in cash as well as other benefits. Susanne Griffin-Ziebart, one of the systems deputy superintendents, was named acting superintendent last week, to serve up to 30 days.
Boards association hiredfor superintendent search
Separately, the school board voted to begin finding Dallemands replacement, and an interim superintendent.
The school board hired the Georgia School Boards Association for $10,000 plus expenses for the superintendent search, which will also include some help finding an interim superintendent.
Board members emphasized candidates for interim superintendent could come from within the school system.
Jim Puckett, a retired superintendent who represents the association, said the board will need to decide qualifications for the next schools leader.
Seven of the eight board members approved hiring the Georgia School Boards Association for the superintendent search process. Board member Tom Hudson abstained after saying the board should interview other firms in an open process.
Im looking forward to moving on, doing what we need to do, said board member Thelma Dillard, who seconded the motion to hire the association. Board member Lester Miller, who made the motion, said he wanted to get the superintendent search process started.
Acting School Board President Sue Sipe will serve as the school boards liaison to the Georgia School Boards Association for the search process.
Puckett said the search process typically takes four and a half to five months before interviews are completed. Based on the time line of events Puckett described in the selection process, a new superintendent likely would not start until fall at the earliest.
Puckett said the board has control over the time line, which the board will help determine.
The board also has to determine what qualifications candidates should have, such as whether a doctorate is required, preferred or not important in the next schools chief. That discussion hasnt happened yet.
Dallemand was hired with help from PROACT Search of Illinois, which was paid $21,000 plus expenses. The state teacher regulatory agency, the Professional Standards Commission, recommended last year that the school board should investigate a claim that Dallemand provided an incorrect title on his résumé.
Sipe and board member Ella Carter said Wednesday they had wanted to hire the Georgia School Boards Association when Proact was hired.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.