June 21, 2018
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Baileyville nears settlement with school employees in lawsuit

By Sharon Kiley Mack, BDN Staff

BAILEYVILLE, Maine — After a successful mediation session last week, the town is close to settling a lawsuit filed by 10 current and former school system employees.

The 10 are suing the town, the school system and the school board for not having informed them of their right to participate in a state pension plan. Baileyville’s attorney Jeff Piampiano said Tuesday that a tentative agreement has been reached and is being drawn up. Town Manager Linda Pagels-Wentworth has the Town Council’s authority to sign the agreement, which Piampiano said should be ready by the end of the week.

Piampiano said he would not release any details about the settlement until the paperwork was signed.

Town officials previously have estimated, however, that the settlement would be around $300,000.

The suit originally was filed in Washington County Superior Court but moved to federal court in Bangor earlier this year.

The group suing the town and school system includes bus drivers, teachers’ aides, janitors, secretaries and food workers, some who have worked for the school system since the 1980s. Most were hired in the 1990s.

According to court documents, the employees were entitled for all those years to participate in the Maine State Retirement Program but never were informed of their qualification by either the town or the school system.

During the past 15 to 20 years, none of the employees contributed to the plan and neither did the town or school system, the documents state.

Those filing the suit are: Kathryn Curtis, Phyllis Carr, Carelton Davis, Mary Day, Michael J. Emery, Jeanne Graceffa, William Gierlich, Gary Johnson, Diane Kneelend and Darlene Norman.

Town Manager Linda Pagels said the town was added in the lawsuit because it and the school system share the same employee identification number and are both part of the same retirement program. She said the town had a similar situation several years ago with town employees that ended up costing the municipality $700,000. That amount was offset by a $900,000 credit that Baileyville enjoyed with the Maine State Retirement System.

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