Litigation cost controls cited in terminated OES custodian’s $135,000 settlement with R-2 district

By Dave Marner, Managing Editor
Posted 5/26/21

A settlement agreement between the R-2 school district and a former elementary school custodian was reached this week which will pay the man $135,000.

Superintendent Dr. Chuck Garner released a …

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Litigation cost controls cited in terminated OES custodian’s $135,000 settlement with R-2 district

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A settlement agreement between the R-2 school district and a former elementary school custodian was reached this week which will pay the man $135,000.

Superintendent Dr. Chuck Garner released a “public statement” on the settlement which cited the Board of Education’s May 17 approval of the agreement with Terry Cress, of Bland.

“On May 17, the Gasconade County R-2 Board of Education approved the settlement reached by the district’s insurer regarding an ongoing lawsuit filed by former employee, Terry Cress. The lawsuit, which arose out of Mr. Cress’ termination, was settled for $135,000. The settlement amount will be paid by the insurer. This decision was made to prevent additional litigation expense and further disruption to district operations. The settlement document states that the parties agree settlement is not an admission of fault, wrongdoing, or liability by either party. The purpose of this settlement is to control ongoing costs of litigation for the over 475 public school districts that pay into the insurance consortium to which the District belongs.”

The district’s insurer, MUSIC (Missouri United School Insurance Council), will pay Cress $63,818.66 and his attorney, Dashtaki Law Firm, LLC, $71,181.34 to “resolve an employee dispute,” according to the 6-page settlement agreement. Cress signed off on the agreement on May 15. Glen Ely, president of the Board of Education, and Peggy Linhardt, secretary to the board, signed the agreement May 17 following their regularly scheduled monthly meeting.

Garner said he was not able to discuss details of the settlement publicly but did notify The Republican that one had been made. He did, however, have one message for district patrons.

The settlement, he said, was “not Gasconade County R-2 (School District) money” but rather it was being paid by an insurance carrier on behalf of MUSIC.

Cress was hired as a custodian on May 21, 2018. His last day of employment was May 20, 2019, according to district records.

The lawsuit, which reached Franklin County Circuit Court in June 2020, asserted “employment discrimination claims alleging disability discrimination and retaliation” under state law.

The settlement agreement specifies Cress is not entitled to retirement contributions from the district since the payment is not considered a wage. He is responsible for paying personal income taxes on settlement money. This settles all claims, known or unknown between Cress and the district, and “forever releases the District…from any and all manner of claims” Cress “may have or claim to have” from his employment and termination from the school system. 

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