Jordan-Elbridge residents to drop lawsuit against school board

2011-01-18T11:16:00Z Jordan-Elbridge residents to drop lawsuit against school boardKelly Voll The Citizen Auburn Citizen
January 18, 2011 11:16 am  • 

The O'Hara, O'Connell & Ciotoli law firm, which was handling a case for Jordan-Elbridge residents against the Jordan-Elbridge Central School District Board of Education, confirmed Tuesday the complainants are dropping that case, filed in October 2010.

"We have discontinued that case because it is clear that Marilyn Dominick doesn't want to return as superintendent," said Dennis O'Hara, of the O'Hara firm. "That was the goal (of the lawsuit)."

The case was filed by nine residents: Fred and Linda Weisskopf, Cheryl Liptak, Charles Carter Jr., Walter and Rochelle Hubbs, Maureen and Michael Doyle, and Dennis Pelmear. They sued to rescind former superintendent Marilyn Dominick's May 5, 2010 severance agreement, which ended her contract 20 months early and awarded her an $82,444 retirement package.

The reason given in the agreement for Dominick's stepping down was "irreconcilable differences" between her and the board.

The complainants alleged there were no "irreconcilable differences" and that the retirement package was a gift of public funds.

But O'Hara said the retirement package was not the focus. Getting Dominick back to work was the goal.

"It was never about the payment," he said. "It was about her performance and trying to get her back."

The residents hoped the judge would void the agreement and allow the contract to expire in 2012.

"If it was voided, her original contract would have been reinstated," O'Hara said.

According to O'Hara, the case will be dropped because during the submission of affidavits, and during a settlement conference state Supreme Court Judge Donald Greenwood held with lawyers, it became clear that Dominick had no desire to return to work.

"In that response (her affidavit and her attorney's statement to the judge), it became clear that she doesn't want to come back and I can't blame her," O'Hara said. "She didn't want to put herself back into the middle of that."

Until this month, the reasons behind the agreement were not fully known, but in early January, court documents revealed Dominick believed the board wanted her to discipline certain administrators she believed were being unjustly persecuted due to the board's dislike of them.

She also wrote in her affidavit, which was filed in connection with the residents' lawsuit, that board members who complained in their own affidavits of her job performance had actually given her above-average job evaluations and never brought up to her in the past concerns they now say were serious.

O'Hara said his firm and the complainants are understanding of Dominick's wish to stay out of the Jordan-Elbridge situation, in which several administrators have been suspended, fired or assigned to other jobs. Several lawsuits have resulted from the changes.

"We don't want to put her (Dominick) in a place where she doesn't want to be," O'Hara said. "And we understand that."

Staff writer Kelly Voll can be reached at 282-2239 or kelly.voll@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter at CitizenVoll.

Copyright 2014 Auburn Citizen. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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