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School board to settle with superintendent

January 1, 2007
Parties have reached a tentative agreement in a case involving the firing of a Perry Township Schools superintendent, meaning a broader legal question arising from the possible appeal of a federal judge's June ruling likely will have to wait for another day.

Specifically, the issue would be the legal scope of a superintendent's employment.

The question arises in the case of embattled superintendent H. Douglas Williams, who was placed on paid indefinite administrative leave in November after a 4-3 vote by the school board. The board stated he was repeatedly insubordinate, and mocked and threatened them in public. Williams sued the district in May, and a federal court ruling came June 5.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Larry McKinney in Indianapolis banned the school board's vice president from voting or participating on any motions related to the superintendent's firing because her past statements showed bias that could threaten his constitutional rights.

The board has since delayed a hearing to address charges against Williams until the appeals process is complete.

On Monday night, the divided board voted 4-3 to use district money to pay for the appeal should a settlement not be reached. But a settlement was reached in principle Wednesday after about nine hours of mediation in federal court, contingent upon the board's approval at its July 9 meeting. Details will be released to the public then, according to Bryan Babb with Bose McKinney & Evans in Indianapolis, whose firm is handling the case and potential appeal.

The only detail released publicly so far is that Williams would resign, Babb said.

If the case still goes up on appeal, Babb said the interesting legal question remains and would likely garner attention outside of Indianapolis.

"It is an interesting issue that a lot of school boards and superintendents would be interested in," he said.
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