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Published: Thursday, 3/1/2007

Swanton Local settles lawsuit for $300,000

SWANTON - The Swanton Local Board of Education last night agreed unanimously to a $300,000 settlement with a former English teacher who sued the board and other school officials, claiming they perpetuated a pattern of racial discrimination, hostility, and disciplinary retaliation against her.

"The parties have amicably resolved the matter," said C. Bronston McCord III, an attorney with Ennis, Roberts & Fischer, of Cincinnati, to whom district leaders referred all questions.

The suit filed nine months ago in U.S. District Court in Toledo by June Price, who is African-American, is to be dismissed.

The agreement calls for the dismissal of three pending arbitration cases and prohibits her from filing any further grievances or administrative proceedings.

Mrs. Price taught 12 years at Swanton High and was department chairman until the end of last school year, when the board did not renew her contract.

The settlement calls for the board to reinstate Mrs. Price as a teacher and remove from her personnel file unfavorable evaluations from last year.

The agreement also calls for Mrs. Price to resign.

Before she does so, however, Swanton Superintendent Neil Weber is to assist her in renewing her teaching certificate.

He has written a general recommendation letter for her, saying: "During her employment, Mrs. Price received excellent evaluations. She exhibited good classroom management skills and created a climate conducive to learning. She had an outstanding knowledge of material and showed enthusiasm for the subject matter she taught."

Of the $300,000 to be paid to Mrs. Price, $210,000 is to be covered by the school district's liability insurance. The other $90,000 is to come from the district's general operating fund.

The settlement gives $201,000 to Ms. Price and $99,000 to her counsel.

In the lawsuit, Ms. Price named, in addition to the school board, James Tokarsky, then principal of Swanton High School; Paulette Raczkowski-Baz, then principal of Swanton Middle School, and former administrators Kevin McQuade and Gary Ludwig, all of whom supervised Mrs. Price.

She said in the suit she was the only African-American teacher in the district, and school leaders "subjected her to disparate employment treatment as compared to similarly situated white employees; subjected her to a racially hostile environment; denied her the right to make and enforce contracts enjoyed by white citizenry; subjected her to deprivation of rights and privileges secured by federal law, and conspired to deprive her of equal privileges under the law."

Her attorney, at the time of the filing, said Mrs. Price would like to be reinstated to her teaching position, "but she would like to return to a school system that is free of racial discrimination and a hostile working environment."

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