Manila School Board makes final offer in Wagner case

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Manila School Board's offer of a cash settlement of $48,672 in the case of former superintendent Charlotte Wagner was rejected, and during Thursday's regular meeting the board once again

discussed options.

Wagner is asking for a settlement of $60,840.82 and the Manila board, while not willing to pay the full amount, has made several attempts to settle. It is possible that the district's insurance company, Summit Risk Services, will pay part of the settlement.

"The school district did have a policy that covers suits of this nature," Pam Castor, superintendent, said. "The school board could vote to pay a certain amount, and it is possible that the insurance company would pay the rest."

Summit has appointed attorney Paul Bloom to represent the district in the case. Despite the board's and Bloom's attempts to settle the case, Wagner and her attorney, Hunter Williams, are set on the $60,840.82 amount.

"We were willing to go more than halfway on this," school board president Robert Veach said. "I don't know where this leaves the district, the insurance company or Paul. I don't think the insurance

company knew how much we were willing to pay."

"I just want this over with," Jackie Hill, school board vice president, said. "I don't think we need to start another school year with this hanging over the district."

The board discussed the option of doing nothing and just letting the case go to court in December, but most board members agreed with Hill that the case needed to be settled before school starts.

Board member Tony Crowell, who was not on the board at the time Wagner's contract was not renewed, suggested the school district pay 65 percent of the settlement cost and ask the insurance company pay the remaining 35. Some board members were opposed to that because the settlement offer of $58,672 was about 80 percent of what Wagner was asking. Those board members feel the insurance company will be more likely respond if the percentage the district is willing to pay stays in the 70 to 80 percent range. Board member Johnny McCain said he feels it will be a waste of time to offer anything less than 70 percent.

"I still can't believe they turned down the offer," Veach said. "That is why I don't think the insurance company was aware of how much we offered."

After much discussion board member Crowell made a motion that stated: The Wagners have set a proposed settlement of $60,840.82. The Manila School District will pay 75 percent of the settlement amount if and only if the insurance company (Summit) will pay the remaining 25 percent and only if there is a response obtained from this offer by Aug. 10, 2005.

The board passed the motion in a 4-3 vote. The board agreed this was its final settlement offer. If this offer is rejected by the insurance company or Wagner then the case will go to court in December.

In other business the board hired Crystal Brown, special education teacher; Dana Braden, elementary teacher; Sarah Pembertan, high school English teacher; Rodney Lancaster, bus driver; Dana Ferguson, special education assistant; Melissa Wilbanks, paraprofessional; Susan Hollis, prekindergarten teacher; Tiffany Barns, prekindergarten teacher; and Louann Hilligrass, paraprofessional. The board also approved the transfer of Linda Stevens to elementary special education and Sheri Brothers to prekindergarten. The board accepted the resignations of Kim Anderson, Whitney Wimpy and Karla McGuire.

The board accepted Interstate Brand's bread bid and Turner Dairy's milk bid. The board also approved the transfer of student Daniel Carpenter from Buffalo Island Central School District to Manila School District.

The board also approved a new stipend list for the district, which includes a $1,000 stipend increase for the assistant elementary/high school principal and a $400 stipend increase for the junior and senior class sponsors.

Castor also announced to the board the district has received the ABC grant for the district's preschool program. She then announced the deadline for filing for this year's school elections is Aug. 8. The board agreed that if the candidates are unopposed the vote will be by absentee ballot.

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