Former principal seeks $1 million for disparaging remarks

Steve Gonzalez Nov. 15, 2005, 9:17am

Lewis and Clark Elementary School

Jacquelyn Hudock, former principal of Lewis and Clark Elementary School, filed suit against the Wood River Hartford School District for making disparaging remarks about her to the press after she resigned on May 9. She seeks to recover more than $1 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

According to the complaint filed Nov. 14 in Madison County Circuit Court, Superintendent Lawrence Busch told the Alton Telegraph that the school board would have been justified in firing her.

"Attorneys for the school have interviewed multiple employees including Hudock, and that the findings would have justified the board members consider terminating Hudock,” Busch allegedly told the newspaper.

Hudock claims the district and Busch violated parts of a separation agreement, which provided that neither party was to make derogatory or disparaging comments, either orally or in writing.

She claims the statements made by Busch in the May 10 edition of The Telegraph are in direct violation of the provisions of the agreement.

According to Hudock, the statements have damaged her ability to obtain employment.

“Hudock received damage to her professional reputation and her ability to maintain employment in the capacity as a school administrator and verily believes her damage will amount to a claim in excess of $80,000 per year for a minimum of ten years representing actual damages of $800,000,” the complaint states.

Hudock also alleges that her pension benefits will also be affected over the next ten years in an amount at a minimum of $200,000.

“The intentional statements of Busch, published in The Telegraph were made with malice towards Hudock,” the complaint states.

Hudock also is seeking $250,000 in punitive damages to punish the school district and discourage others from committing similar acts.

She is represented by Brian Schwartz of Springfield. The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge George Moran.

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