LA MARQUE — A former school district police chief’s federal lawsuit against the La Marque school district and school board is set to go to trial today.

The lawsuit heads to trial several months after trustees rejected a settlement offer from Russel Washington, who sued the school district in 2012 for wrongful termination.

Washington was fired in 2010 while under indictment on criminal charges that he falsified records to obtain a car title. Those charges were later dropped.

The former school district police chief is seeking $10 million, claiming he was fired without due process because he was “wrongfully indicted” by a grand jury.

Washington’s settlement offers have not been disclosed.

The lawsuit, among other things, contends that the school board violated the Texas Open Meetings Act when it met in March 2010 to consider an agenda item that called for trustees to consider then-Superintendent Ecomet Burley’s “recommendation to propose the termination of the contract and employment of the LMISD Chief of Police.”

Washington claims he was not given a hearing or an opportunity to defend his termination. He also alleges that former school board trustee Cynthia Bell-Malveaux, who had filed a defamation lawsuit against Washington, was biased against the then-police chief and should have recused herself from the vote.

Before filing the lawsuit, Washington attempted to get his job back and asked for roughly $125,000 in compensation, but that was rejected by trustees. He was given a post-termination hearing and was afforded due process, according to a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the school district.

During his tenure as police chief, Washington regularly clashed with Burley, who is expected to testify, but had the support of some former school board members.

Several former school district employees and trustees are expected to testify in the trial, including former trustees Bell-Malveaux and Joseph Cantu, according to a list of potential witnesses filed by the school district.

Since Washington’s termination, the school district has disbanded its police department, hired a new superintendent and seen significant turnover on the board of trustees.

The trial will be held in Galveston’s federal court with U.S. Circuit Judge Gregg Costa presiding. 

Jury selection is scheduled for 10 a.m., with opening arguments expected this afternoon.

Contact reporter Alex Macon at 409-683-5241 or alex.macon@galvnews.com.

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(10) comments

Walter Manuel

"Since Washington’s termination, the school district has disbanded its police department, hired a new superintendent and seen significant turnover on the board of trustees".

Shazam!

If that right there doesn't paint a clear enough picture for everyone in LM to see where LMISD's problems started, then there really isn't anything that probably will?

It's a shame that one district employee who was terminated had enough friends willing to run for the school board in order to give him his job back, that they would destroy an entire school district and everyone still ended up in court.

Mr. Washington wants $10 million from LMISD? Give him his $4,500 and a part of his attorney fees that he's owed and everybody go home. Texas is an At-Will state where anyone can be terminated for any reason, period.

And this is the same person LM City Councilman Keith Bell selected for the city's Planning and Zoning Commission? Looks like the city IS IN fact following suit with LMISD's tradition where friends help friends even if no one else benefits but themselves?

Better be careful what you ask for, it very well may not be what you expected....[yawn]

Jake Feigle

Outside of using the N word, what could anyone say about the LISD leaders that is not true? With that in mind, there was no reason for a recall or a censorship of Mrs.. Trube.. What the Betheas charged her with, has not been proven. It is only "he said, she said". Could La Marque be heading n the same direction of the LMISD is in? I would not be surprised if there isn't a mass evacuation from La Marque to other places There is a solution. Replace all of the members on the school board, and all members on the La Marque city council, and start over. In addition all seats should be limited to one six year term. And, Mr Mayor, I think you owe Mrs. Trube a public apology for your actions..

Tamala Robinson

Early Bird, you and Missionary man are part of the biggest problems that La Marque have along with C. Trube. IT IS CALLED RACIST!!

Valerie Beverly

Yes Indeed, I wish I could understand what makes people get so ugly and bigoted. Bad childhood, bad genes, or just plain bad.

Jimmie Saldana

earlybird, help me understand what you are saying in the comment/statement you posted today Aug 18, 2014 at 11:06 am "OUTSIDE OF USING THE N WORD WHAT COULD ANYONE SAY ABOUT THE LISD LEADERS THAT IS NOT TRUE ?

Jake Feigle

If you cannot figure it out, here it is. If you can't see the shape the LMISD is in and has been in , you must be living in another state. Every year the enrollment keep dropping. if you cannot understand this maybe you can get someone to explain it to you.

Valerie Beverly

FOR THE LAST TIME SHE ADMITTED IT!!!!!!!!!!

Tamala Robinson

As I always tell you with your twisted thoughts, your right wing way of thinking Missionary Man, shut up!! You don't know anything about R. Washington. He is a good man and was a darn good police officer in the district!! You are just racist and it shows!

George Croix

A 10,000,000 buck lawsuit in answer to a rejected 125,000 dollar settlement.
That's some pretty expensive mental anguish....less 40%, of course....

Walter Manuel

Tamala, obviously racism runs through and through your veins.

No one insinuated anything about "race" related to Russel except you. You had to throw out the race card once again since your knowledge and vocabulary severly impairs you otherwise.

I'm sure your standards of excellence compared to those of the majority living in our community are quite different and your defense for the people that you support is just as weak as Russel's case will be in court.

Now, will there be anything else that you would like to discuss and this time try and leave the race card out of it because I don't see "color" when I give credit where credit is deserved.

Have a nice day ma'am and try finding another word to fight your battles with besides such a typical and weak response as "racism". [beam]

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