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BOE pays $50K settlement due to EEOC claim

By By MaryClaire Foster
The Escambia County Board of Education has settled a lawsuit with a custodian who made a claim of racial discrimination, but the board’s attorney said the settlement does not mean officials are admitting any wrongdoing.
The board voted Thursday to settle an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claim with plaintiff Cal Abner for $50,000. Abner, who is black, has been employed as a custodian at A.C. Moore Elementary School since July 2004.
The details of the case were discussed during executive session, and Superintendent Billy Hines referred all questions to board attorney Alicia Fritz Bennett. Bennett said the case involved a claim of racial discrimination during employment, not in hiring, and was filed last year.
Bennett said such cases could cost more in the long run than if they were settled out of court.
Bennett said this is the first time, to her knowledge, a racial discrimination lawsuit has been filed against the school board.
Bennett declined to comment on further details of the case and Abner and his attorney were unavailable for comment as of press time.
Prior to going into executive session, the board heard from Chief Financial Officer Julie Madden who reported the board still has $9.9 million in funds. Madden said the budget was an achievement of the board and was a “…testimony to the conservatism of the board, the superintendent and the workers in our system…”
Randall Little reported that the school system would soon begin participation in EDUCATE ALABAMA, a new educator evaluation system that replaces Professional Education Personnel Evaluation.
Educators will begin online orientation at the beginning of the school year and continue with online training throughout the year.
In other business, the board:
See personnel changes in Wednesday’s Atmore Advance.