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School board wasted $65,000
July 9, 2013 - Jim Smith
Maybe if the Wood County Board of Education would have used some common sense, it could have saved an undisclosed settlement cost and $65,000 in attorney fees.
The board, taking what it apparently considered the high road, chose to ignore an advisory communication from the American Civil Liberties Union, saying the board's actions in establishing single-gender classes at VanDevender Middle School was in violation of law.
The board, which repeatedly has demonstrated its disregard of Open Meeting law, chose to continue the program, even though a couple other counties heeded the ACLU warning and canceled the same-gender classes.
The board continued its position even after the ACLU found a mother of VanDevender school students to file suit against the board.
So the attorney bills mounted until the board's insurance carrier finally opted to settle the suit for an undisclosed sum and the continued anonymity of the woman who filed the action.
The U.S. District Court judge in Charleston accepted and approved the settlement, barring the school district from establishing single-gender classes until after the 2014-15 school year and mandating if the district re-establishes such classes parents must opt their students into the classes, instead of opting them out.
The ACLU undoubtedly will get beat up by some in the community over the single-gender issue, but the school district could have saved a lot of money and embarrassment if it had merely used some common sense instead of charging ahead in an ill-fated attempt to prove it was right and the ACLU was wrong.
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