In a strange move—but perhaps one that should not come as any surprise—the Mount Vernon City School Board voted Wednesday to give the Dennis family $121,000. Had this been any other school board, you might expect that they had reached a settlement. Not so for this board.
The lawsuit will continue in spite of giving thousands of dollars—through the board’s insurance company—to the suing family. The headline in the Mount Vernon News would have you believe that the lawsuit has been settled—the News went so far as to title their article “School board resolves federal lawsuit.”
In return for the money, the Dennis family is supposed to drop as defendants: the board, superintendent and middle school principal. The lawsuit will continue but with the pretense of only including the teacher, John Freshwater.
The News quotes the board as making a statement that implies the payment to the Dennis family will help the school district focus on educating the students. “Being in the business of educating children, the board recognizes the need to remain focused on what is best for the students of this district,” the board stated, according to the News.
The payment, when it is made, will in effect help fund the family's continued lawsuit against the teacher. Does this help the district focus on educating the students? Would the students, and tax payers, been better served if the board had only agreed on a payment—if there really was a need to pay the suing family—on the condition that the lawsuit IN ITS ENTIRITY be dropped?