HSJ Headline News
Ex-adviser will get $74,000: Settlement bars teacher from ever applying for a job in district
The Indianapolis Star
October 12, 2005
Franklin Central High School's former newspaper adviser said Tuesday he will finish a journalism education program now that he stands to collect nearly $74,000 from a lawsuit settlement.
Chad Tuley, 26, hopes to return to the classroom next fall and eventually to oversee another student newspaper -- but not in Franklin Township Schools.
A settlement agreement finalized this week bars him from ever applying for a job in the school district.
Tuley will remain on paid leave until May 30, when his resignation takes effect. After that, the district will pay an additional $40,000.
The agreement, which the School Board approved Monday night, ends Tuley's federal lawsuit. It claimed his First Amendment rights were violated in November 2004 when he was removed as adviser over a story in the student newspaper about a student arrested on a murder charge.
Tuley disputed that he had been told to withhold the story. But after a one-week paid suspension, the English teacher was removed as adviser. Over the summer the district transferred him to a job at Franklin Township Middle School.
He sued in August, seeking his old position and punitive damages. He has been on sabbatical since a tentative settlement was reached in early September.
Superintendent E.B. Carver has said Tuley lacked a proper journalism teaching license and that his removal from the adviser position was because of his conduct -- not the story.
"This was never about a First Amendment right," Carver said this week. "It was a personnel issue."
Referring to Tuley, Carver said: "Any time you settle for money, you're never too strong about your First Amendment rights."
Tuley and his attorney, Ed DeLaney, declined to respond specifically to that comment, citing a clause in the agreement barring any statements about the matter.
The settlement agreement also prohibits either side from releasing it publicly unless required by law. The Indianapolis Star obtained a copy Tuesday after sending a public records request to the school district.
Dennis Cripe, executive director of the Indiana High School Press Association, has supported Tuley in his lawsuit. Taxpayers are the clear losers in the settlement, he said, adding that administrators could have averted the lawsuit by reacting differently to the original newspaper story.
"Saying this case wasn't about the First Amendment is like saying the American Revolution wasn't about freedom," Cripe said.
School Board members Matthew Hamner and Geoff Horen said they supported Franklin Central Principal Kevin Koers' actions after the story was published.
"(But) there is an openness issue," Hamner said, "and that's something we need to work on. . . . We need to be very open. Printing a story like (the arrest story) actually quells rumors rather than starting them."
With the lawsuit settled, Tuley said he hopes to return to teaching soon. He already had finished a few credits in a journalism program at Ball State University before the current school year, and he is working to meet state licensing requirements for journalism by June.
"I'm glad it's finally been resolved," he said.
Copyright 2005, The Indianapolis Star. Reprinted with permission