Opp BOE settles lawsuit for #036;65K

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 3, 2003

A wrongful termination suit that has been in litigation for more than two years against the Opp City Schools Board of Education has been settled, with the school system paying $65,200 for the fees and judgment.

Dr. Timothy Lull made the announcement at the Tuesday night meeting of the board with the board's attorney, Wesley Laird, in attendance.

The board voted to authorize payment of the judgment. Laird had a prepared press release concerning the case, Bozeman vs. the Opp BOE.

According to the press release, Thoya Bozeman, a former employee of Opp City Schools, filed suit in federal court in Montgomery in May 2001, claiming wrongful termination. The suit was filed against the Board of Education, the members of the school board at that time, and Allen Miller, who was then superintendent of Opp City Schools, both in their official and individual capacities.

The court dismissed all claims against the board members and Opp, but submitted a claim to the jury for violation of Constitutional rights against Miller for his actions while serving as superintendent.

After deliberation, according to the press release, the jury returned a verdict against Miller for $20,000. The court also awarded attorney's fees, which is allowed under a Section 1983 action.

Miller and Opp City Schools were represented in the suit by James Seale of Montgomery, who advised the board to pay the negotiated settlement of $65,200.

In other board business, the recently passed budget had to be revised and passed again as it was adapted to compensate for cuts made in the state funding. Opp City Schools lost all state funding for technology, library enhancement, and professional development.

The text book fund was also cut drastically, from $78,998 to $9,879. Opp schools may be luckier than most on that count however, since the remaining funds were left to buy replenishables - those workbooks used in the lower grades that must be replaced every year.

"We had already bought our replenishables," said Lull. "We're hoping that we can use that money to buy books for the middle school and high school."

One cut that was actually beneficial was in the insurance allocation, which was dropped from $522 a month per employee to $479 a month per employee. This was made possible by an increase in the employee's co-pay amount, which Lull said he believed was an increase of $5.

The At Risk allocation, which focuses on at risk students, was reduced from $51,036 to $39,588, 20 percent of which still has to be shared with a community agency. State preschool was reduced by approximately $300 and the amount of funds required for a Local Funds Capital Purchase match was raised approximately $1,336.

Despite cuts in various areas, including technology, Lull advised the board that conservative estimates of revenue had helped in the last year, showing the schools had made budget by about 110 percent. The school system is now also debt free, he said.

He then proposed the board commit to hiring an in-house computer systems supervisor who would repair, maintain and upgrade the current system. The board approved the chosen candidate, who had responded with nine others to the position posted, provided the terms were acceptable to him, and urged Lull to see the system improved as soon as possible.

In other board business, board elections saw Rinkey Stanley stepping aside as Durwood Edgar was elected unanimously to the seat. Josh Hall was elected to the role of vice president of the Board of Education, also unanimously.