Expert: Sides likely cautious in settlement disclosure

By David Knopf/Richmond News

Sunshine Law issues said Friday that it appears attorneys on both sides of the Karen Southwick lawsuit are waiting until a settlement is signed, sealed and delivered before disclosing details.

Although the required 72-hour disclosure period passed three days after Richmond School Board met in executive session Dec. 3 – presumably to discuss the Southwick situation – no details were released by the school district Friday morning.

“If there is a settlement, then when the matter is finally resolved, then it has to be made public,” lawyer Jean Maneke said. “I suspect that they’re waiting for everything to be signed before releasing it.”

Maneke said that while the district could request that a judge seal much of a settlement’s content, by statute the actual dollar amount paid must to be made public. Section 610.011 (1) of the Missouri Statutes notes that “ … the amount of any moneys paid by, or on behalf of, the public governmental body must be disclosed.”

Southwick, the former Richmond High School principal, took the district to court over its decision not to renew her contract for the 2011-12 school year. In addition, her attorneys and a judge have been critical of how the school board conducted both her initial appeal and a court-ordered appeal rehearing.

As compensation, Southwick is seeking her salary and benefits for both the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years, minus what she would have received had she accepted the district’s offer of a teaching position.

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