Teacher claims Collinsville school board hasn't paid settlement in old suit

Steve Gonzalez Feb. 26, 2008, 7:22am

A teacher at Kreitner Elementary School in Collinsville filed suit against the Collinsville Board of Education and several of its members in Madison County Circuit Court alleging the school board has failed to meet the terms of a settlement reached in federal court.

Karen Eastby claims that on Nov. 16, 2004, she filed a multi-count complaint against the defendants in federal court alleging violation of free speech, age discrimination, defamation and tortuous interference of a business relationship.

According to Eastby, on Feb. 6, 2006, the parties entered into a settlement agreement in good faith.

She claims the terms of the agreement called for her to dismiss her suit with prejudice in exchange for $25,000, reinstatement to the ISEL reading testing team and corrections to her personnel file.

Eastby claims she dismissed her suit on March 20, 2006, pursuant to the settlement agreement, but alleges the defendants have failed to comply with the terms and obligations under the agreement.

"Plaintiff would not have allowed the dismissal of her federal suit absent the defendants entered into said settlement agreement with the specific terms and conditions contained therein," the suit states.

Eastby claims that as a result of the alleged breach of settlement agreement, she has sustained damages including loss of payment and other benefits promised under the agreement, loss of income and employment benefits, emotional pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and other damages in excess of $100,000.

She also claims the defendants have intentionally inflicted emotional distress by entering into a pattern of conduct that is "so outrageous" it caused her stress and emotional distress.

Eastby claims the district has taken unwanted disciplinary actions against her, failed to provide her appropriate resources and educational staffing support, including an appropriate classroom.

According to Eastby, the district has also forced her to move to a non-instructional, office space which is extremely small in comparison to her old classroom which caused her to lose "effective use and ready access to the student computers, visual aids, and a myriad of important or vital instructional tools to benefit the children she serves."

"The working conditions of the plaintiff in trying to move the materials and sort them out to restructure her entire delivery of services, as well as the district's refusal to provide her with adequate storage that is easily accessible within the building where she teaches, resulted in a tremendous disruption to the plaintiff," the complaint states.

Eastby also claims that she has been denied timely access to student scores and administrative support for student selection which makes it extremely difficult to begin the school year and instruction.

She further alleges that her former classroom now sits empty during the school day. She also claims the district told her that the resources were adequate and they do not need to be any different from those used 35 years ago.

"Given the requirements of No Child Left Behind policy and Illinois State Learning Standards, such instructions are unreasonable and worrisome for the plaintiff," the complaint states.

"Such instructions deny her the opportunity to serve the students with the quality research-based instructional resources and materials afforded to other instructors throughout the building."

Eastby claims the district has taken disciplinary actions against her for alleged insubordination after she made every effort to bring her limited classroom space to a functional position and has also threatened additional disciplinary actions "at every turn with intention to inflict significant emotional distress."

Eastby is seeking actual, liquidated and compensatory damages, reimbursement of court costs and reasonable counsel fees and a declaratory judgment ordering the district to comply with the terms of the settlement, all in excess of $150,000 in damages.

She is represented by Greg Roosevelt of the Roosevelt Law Office in Edwardsville.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge David Hylla.

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