HOLDEN, Maine — The SAD 63 board, during an emergency meeting Wednesday night, agreed to pay fired Superintendent Louise Regan $300,000 to drop the multicount lawsuit she filed against the district and five of its members.
The board also agreed to rescind her termination, and “will accept Louise Regan’s resignation” effective on the day the completed settlement agreement is signed.
“Under the terms of the agreement, no party admits any liability or fault,” says a statement from the board, endorsed during the emergency meeting. “The District will pay to Ms. Regan the sum of $300,000 in settlement of all claims in the lawsuit.”
Residents within the SAD 63 communities of Holden, Eddington and Clifton will pay $125,000 of the tab with the district’s insurance company — Aspen Specialty Insurance Co. — picking up the remainder, the statement says.
The statement does not mention who will pay lawyers’ fees, which have climbed over the $500,000 mark in the last two years between the district and Regan.
“Without this settlement the parties anticipated many more months of costly litigation before the case would ultimately be resolved,” the district’s statement says. “It is in the best interest of all concerned to bring it to a conclusion.”
The former SAD 63 superintendent sued the district and five board members who in October 2007 allowed one member to read a “letter of concern” regarding her actions surrounding previously recorded meeting tapes.
It is the actions that night, a subsequent investigation of Regan’s conduct and her firing in July 2008 that spurred the legal matters.
During the school board’s Oct. 22, 2007, meeting, then board member Dion Seymour, with the approval of a majority of the eight directors, read a statement that basically said Regan had told lies about him to three other board members concerning the tapes. He said those lies “maligned” him and his integrity.
At the end of the regular meeting, the board held a 1½-hour closed-door session, and afterward Seymour rescinded his letter of concern and the board issued an apology for its actions that evening.
The five board members who voted to allow Seymour to read his letter — Seymour, Karen Clark, Therese Anderson, Linda Goodrich and Robert Kiah — are the ones named in Regan’s lawsuit. Three of the five who were sued are no longer board members. Goodrich resigned from the board citing stress from the lawsuit, Seymour lost his seat during the June 2008 local election, and Kiah decided not to run when his term expired in June 2009.
Regan claimed defamation and violation of her rights related to the October 2007 school board meeting, the investigation into her conduct and her firing.
According to the district statement obtained Thursday, “This settlement eliminates the need for further proceedings in the Penobscot County Superior Court or before the Maine Commissioner of Education.”
Commissioner Susan Gendron had scheduled a hearing for Dec. 21 and 22 in Augusta to determine whether there was cause for Regan’s termination.
“This settlement enables all parties to put this behind them, to stop incurring litigation costs, and to go forward with their own lives and responsibilities in public education,” the SAD 63 statement reads. “This dispute has been a severe hardship on all involved.”
Five board members in attendance at Wednesday’s emergency meeting unanimously endorsed the statement and the eight-item settlement outline, deputy chairwoman Karen Clark said Wednesday, declining to make a statement. Voting on the settlement were Clark, Theresa Anderson, Sylvia Ellis, Kevin Mills and Mario Teisel.
Chairman Don Varnum and board members Pamela Dorr and Chris Fickett were unable to attend the emergency meeting.
Regan’s attorney, Thad Zmistowski, said Thursday, “It looks like things are getting worked out.
“It’s my understanding that the parties have come to a agreement in principle, and we’re working out the details,” he said. “Beyond that, it’s not appropriate to comment at this time.”
The agreement between Regan and SAD 63 brings “this long and unfortunate dispute to a close,” the district said in its statement.