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Michigan school board faces lawsuit over director's dismissal

A former official with a Michigan school district has filed a lawsuit against the district's superintendent and board of education, as well as two employees, over his 2011 termination. He was fired after two employees sold thousands of dollars of scrap metal they had taken from the school. The lawsuit accuses the defendants of emotional distress, defamation and breach of contract. The former official is seeking over $25,000 in damages.

The plaintiff claims he was fired after two staff members scrapped over $20,000 worth of copper. He says that this practice was once widely accepted during his 10 years with the school, with employees selling the scrap metal to fund a year-end barbecue. When the school district introduced a new policy in 2011 that prohibited staff from scrapping metal during working hours, the plaintiff says he informed them of the rule change. "I made a statement to my maintenance people that we all had new rules, you can no longer scrap on company time. You have to do it after hours."

After the workers were found to have violated the new policy, they reportedly told officers with the Michigan State Police that the plaintiff gave them express permission to sell the metal. The former official has denied these allegations and noted that he was unaware of the value of the scrap metal.

Neither employee who scrapped the metal faced criminal charges or discipline through the school district, but the plaintiff contends that the incident directly lead to his termination. He explained that he first learned of the accusations against him after an anonymous source sent a letter to the superintendent, who then approached the plaintiff with the claims. "I tried to tell him everything I knew. The biggest part of this is getting my reputation back," explained the former official.

Source:, "Former St. Johns schools official sues over firing," Laura Misjak, Nov. 12, 2012

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