The Rainier School District disclosed Wednesday that it has settled a $1.8 million lawsuit brought by two former teaching aides for less than $100,000.
Terrianne MacEllven received $32,500 and Michelle Eastham received $66,000 under the Sept. 13 settlement. As part of that settlement, Eastham agreed to resign in September. (MacEllven resigned in 2016.) Payment was made through the district’s liability insurance provider.
The lawsuit, filed in November last year, alleged that Superintendent Michael Carter and his wife, former special education director Laurie Kash, prohibited the plaintiffs from reporting the alleged abuse of a 6-year-old girl by a 15-year-old boy. The aides were “mandatory reporters” under the law, obligating them to report suspected child abuse.
In reaching the agreement, the district, Kash and Carter do not admit any guilt or liability.
“The settlement is being made by the defendants solely to avoid the future of defending any and all civil actions, and that this (agreement) does not constitute an admission of liability by the defendants, by whom liability is expressly denied,” according to the district.
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The settlement, reached Sept. 13, releases the district, Carter and Kash from all claims and demands named in the suit, which had been filed in U.S. District Court in Portland. The district also agreed to provide independent child abuse reporting training for one year.
The agreement obligates Carter to write a “positive” letter of reference for Michelle Eastham and a “neutral verification” of employment letter for Terrianne MacEllven.
Lawyers for Eastham and MacEllven have not returned multiple calls for comment.
The Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission investigated the allegations but declined to take any action against Carter, Kash or the district.
The district considers the matter “concluded,” Carter said Tuesday. School Board chairman Darren Vaughn also said Monday the school board hadn’t discussed or taken any action on the settlement.