It might seem like a small thing, but the La Marque school board deserves some applause for rejecting the initial offer to settle a lawsuit filed by Russell Washington, the school district’s former police chief.
This is a step forward.
Washington’s connections with school board members have, in the past, undermined confidence in the district.
A former superintendent tried to oust Washington in 2008. At the time, Washington refused to clear the air about an audio recording that suggested some school board members had taken kickbacks from a contractor involved in a bond issue. But that effort to oust Washington failed as some board members strongly supported him.
When he was fired in 2010, Washington was under indictment in an alleged attempt to falsify documents to obtain a title to a vehicle. Those charges were later dropped, and Washington demanded his old job back, along with compensation.
Washington’s initial demand was in the $500,000 ballpark and included compensation for mental anguish. That demand dropped to $125,000. And, since a federal judge threw out most of this case, it’s hard to see a large settlement.
So, it was good to see the school board following the advice of its attorneys and not rushing to resolve this case with cash.
In the past, some school board members had advocated paying Washington. In 2011, there was some discussion of ousting the person who was then police chief to put Washington back on the payroll. That discussion was serious enough to be posted on the agenda of a public meeting.
This recent decision by the school board was a breath of fresh air.