School settles lawsuit

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The Switzerland County School Board voted at its meeting on Monday night to accept a settlement agreement in the lawsuit that had been brought against the corporation and former superintendent Tracy Caddell by Susan Jill Cord.

Jill Cord has sued the school and the superintendent in U.S. District Court last August, stating that her first amendment rights of free speech had been violated because, after speaking with the superintendent and high school principal Candis Haskell as a citizen; she maintained that the superintendent took disciplinary action against her in her capacity as a teacher in the corporation.

In the settlement agreement, which is dated April 17th:

– “The school corporation agrees that no School Board member or any School Corporation employee will retaliate against Ms. Cord for exercising her right to protected free speech under the First Amendment, for filing this lawsuit, or for any other legally prohibited reason;

– “The School Corporation agrees to keep Ms. Cord in a tenured teaching position, unless otherwise agreed to by the parties;

– “The School Corporation agrees that Ms. Cord will be treated the same as all other certified employees in the receipt of retirement and/or severance benefits as provided in the Master Contract;

– “The School Corporation will remove from Ms. Cord’s personnel file and destroy the May 8, 2006 reprimand from Tracy Caddell to Ms. Cord, along with all attachments;

– “The School Corporation will remove from Ms. Cord’s personnel file and destroy the May 22, 2006 reprimand from Tracy Caddell to Ms. Cord, along with all attachments;

– “The School Corporation agrees that it will remove all evidence of any suspension resulting from the May 8 and May 22, 2006 reprimands from Ms. Cord’s personnel file, and that it will make every reasonable effort to ensure that all school records will reflect that no suspension took place;

– “The School Corporation will not place Ms. Cord’s December 19, 2006 evaluation in her personnel file;

– “Ms. Cord will be permitted to attach responses to all documents in her personnel file, and all responses will remain attached to the documents in her personnel file; and

– “The School Corporation will pay to Ms. Cord the total sum of Seven Thousand Dollars ($7,000.00) in the form of a check to Ms. Cord in the amount of Five Thousand Six Hundred Dollars ($5,600) and a check to the Indiana State Teachers Association in the amount of One Thousand Four Hundred Dollars ($1,400.00)”

The document was signed by school board president Andy Truitt after it was unanimously approved by the board on Monday night. It still has to be signed by Tracy Caddell, who had not yet received a copy of the document in his office at the Eastern Howard School Corporation.