A settlement was accepted by both sides to end the dispute over the lay-off of former Morenci Elementary School principal Jeanie Thompson.
Although no judgment was made against the Morenci Board of Education and superintendent Kyle Griffith in relation to a lawsuit filed by Thompson, a case evaluation team awarded her a financial settlement of $45,000 to bring the issue to a close. A third of that cost will paid by the school’s insurance company.
Thompson filed suit in January 2007, seeking $83,602 in lost salary for breach of contract, plus the loss of benefits she would have received.
Three other counts—charges of acting fraudulently, emotional distress and loss of consortium in the marriage—were dismissed by Lenawee County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Pickard.
Judge Pickard held onto the breach of contract complaint, but his decision wasn’t based on the charges filed in the lawsuit. Instead, he told attorneys that Thompson failed to receive adequate compensation (lack of consideration) for accepting the terms of a new contract signed in April 2006.
The new contract allowed for the layoff of any administrator after a 30-day notice. She and maintenance supervisor Dan Miller were laid off three months later as the district attempted to trim spending from a projected $300,000 deficit.
Judge Pickard said that school districts typically offer administrators two-year contracts that are renewed annually. He said the new contract benefitted the school district, but offered administrators no compensation for what they gave up.
Judge Pickard suggested resolving the case by negotiating a cash settlement and the matter was referred to a team of lawyers for case evaluation.
Under Michigan court rules, said school attorney Bill Vogelzang, case evaluation is used in civil cases when one party is seeking financial damages. Typically, three attorneys are asked to review statements from both sides and come up with a settlement acceptable to each party—generally a compromise to what was originally sought....