A motion for a proposed settlement of $550,000 between USD 231 and Bill Gilhaus, former superintendent, was unanimously approved by the school board at their Oct. 3 meeting. The $550,000 is the district’s contribution towards the settlement amount paid by the insurance company. According to FOX 4, the settlement totals $1.8 million.
The district’s attorney, Curtis L. Tideman, read the following statement: Oct. 3.
“There is an opportunity to settle the outstanding employment claims pending against the district made by Bill Gilhaus, Christy Ziegler and Lana Gerber. These three administrators were terminated in February of 2014 and subsequently filed lawsuits.  The district and the other individual defendants have been defended by the district’s insurer, EMC, under a reservation of rights.  This means that EMC has been paying the defense costs but has not conceded that the claims are covered by the policy.  David Cooper, whom EMC hired to defend these claims, has informed me that EMC has a tentative agreement to settle all these claims and that such a settlement would require the district to contribute $550,000 toward the total settlement amount.  I recommend that the board vote in favor of that contribution toward settlement.
The $550,000 contribution is slightly lower than the amount of salary and other compensation which would have been paid to Bill Gilhaus had that contract not been terminated.  That contract was approved and executed by the Board of Education although not by any of its current members.  Contractual amounts are generally not covered by liability insurance because they constitute amounts which were agreed upon between the parties.  Payment of the $550,000 would terminate all claims and put the matter behind the district, ending the time and effort which has been committed toward the continuing litigation.
Additional amounts paid to settle these claims will be made by the district’s insurer, EMC.  The board will not be asked to vote on those payments.  Under the terms of the policy, EMC has the right to settle the case and pay whatever amounts it deems advisable to get releases from the claimants without board approval.
Therefore, I recommend that the board vote in favor of this contribution toward settlement for all of these reasons but especially because the board is ending the matter without paying anything more than amounts to which it had already contractually committed.”
A stipulation of dismissal was filed Oct. 6 by Dennis E Egan, attorney for plaintiffs, and says “the parties hereby stipulate that all claims asserted in this lawsuit by plaintiffs against defendants are dismissed with prejudice. Each party shall bear his, her or its own costs and fees.”
According to a news report on FOX 4’s website, “The school board recently agreed to pay $1.8 million in a wrongful termination lawsuit which allows the defendants to talk about their experience.”
According to the website (http://fox4kc.com/2016/10/10/three-former-gardner-edgerton-school-administrators-discuss-abrupt-firings-after-settling-lawsuit/), the plaintiffs say the abrupt terminations led to rumors and speculation that harmed their careers, and they wanted to clear their names.
USD 231 officials and board members named in the suit did not comment.