Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

July 18, 2013

Greenup, former teachers settle lawsuit

Kenneth Hart
The Independent

ASHLAND — The Greenup County school district and two of its former teachers have agreed to settle a 2010 lawsuit filed by the teachers, who alleged they were wrongfully terminated and their daughter was discriminated against because of her disability.

An order filed earlier this month by U.S. District Judge David L. Bunning states the district and Lonnie and Wendy Nixon have reached an “amicable settlement” in the matter. The order also vacates the July 29 trial date that had been set in the case.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Bunning originally gave the attorneys in the case until Monday to file an agreed order of settlement. However, Randy  Blankenship of Erlanger, who represents the Nixons, on Tuesday filed a motion requesting an extra week to do so.

The Nixons, who both taught at McKell Elementary School, alleged in their suit, filed in June 2010, they were let go because of their complaints about the district’s repeated failure to comply with their daughter Audrie’s disability plan, commonly known as a “504 Plan,” after the Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973. In addition to the school system, the suit names as defendants former Superintendent Randy Hughes, McKell Elementary Principal Thomas J. Kouns and five district employees identified only as “John Does.”

The 504 plan was necessary because Audrie Nixon, who at the time was a second-grader at McKell Elementary School, has Type 1 diabetes. It was developed to allow the youngster to fully participate in the educational opportunities at the school.

The school district maintained it complied fully with Audrie Nixon’s disability plan, and that Lonnie Nixon, a fifth-grade teacher at McKell during the 2009-10 school year, wasn’t terminated, but left the district of his own volition to take a job in North Carolina.

In September, Senior Judge Henry R. Wilhoit Jr. tossed out most of the Nixon’s claims, but he left standing the claim at the heart of the lawsuit — that the district failed to comply with Audrie Nixon’s disability plan.

Wilhoit also later granted a request by Blankenship to reinstate Lonnie Nixon’s claim for retaliation, agreeing it had been mistakenly dismissed due to a clerical error.

The case was reassigned from Wilhoit to Bunning in May.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.