WELLSBORO - The Wellsboro Area School Board approved two settlement agreements Tuesday night, one over a dispute in the construction of the Wellsboro High School in 2005 and the other involving a teacher who had been accused of engaging in an inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old student.
The board provided a copy of the settlement agreement with Lobar Inc., of Dillsburg, the general contractor, that also included McKissick and Associates, of Harrisburg, the project architect, and John Imbt Inc., of Troy, Lobar's roofing subcontractor. According to a release issued as part of the settlement, the dispute arose over concerns by the school district about the quality of some of the construction workmanship. The contractor, in turn, took issue with the design of portions of the project.
As part of the agreement, the district will pay $403,333.33 to Lobar, with McKissick and Imbt each paying $133,333.33 to Lobar for a total of $670,000. The three companies did not return phone calls as of press time Tuesday night. However, according to the release, "This settlement brings those concerns to a mutually agreement conclusion." If a settlement had not been reached, the matter was set for trial in Tioga County Court in early December.
While District Superintendent Chris Morral said he was advised to give no comment on either settlement, former District Superintendent Phil Waber, who had been superintendent during the time period of the Lobar legal issues, applauded loudly for both settlements. Afterwards, asked about the first settlement, he said, "It's about time it came to an end, it's been seven years in the making." He said now the district could get back to focusing on education.
Morral said all the parties involved with the Lobar case already had signed the agreement with the school board's approval being the last part of the settlement.
School board members also did not comment after the meeting.
Unlike with the Lobar settlement, the district did not provide a copy of the settlement agreement and release between the district and former teacher Robert W. Baily.
However, according to a memorandum and order filed by the state Professional Standards and Practice Commission and found on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania website, the state Department of Education initiated disciplinary proceedings against Bailey by filing notices of charges on Nov. 12, 2008. The department sought discipline against his instructional II teaching certificate in the area of social studies "on the grounds of immorality, negligence and intemperance."
The department specifically alleged that Baily, now 57, "had engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old student, who he subsequently married and with whom he fathered a child after the student graduated from high school in the Wellsboro Area School District."
On Dec. 11, 2008, Bailey filed an answer, denying the allegations and requesting a hearing, the document said. After a hearing officer was appointed and a hearing scheduled, the department and Bailey entered into negotiations that led to a settlement where Baily agreed to accept a public reprimand for "engaging in inappropriate conversations with a female student."
According to Tim Eller, press secretary with the state Department of Education, that designation of public reprimand will appear on Baily's record. However, Eller said Baily did not lose his teaching certificate and can continue to teach in the state.
Eller said Tuesday's settlement was separate from the settlement the department reached with Baily and only would be between the district and Baily.
Baily is not listed as a teacher in any of the school district's schools on the district's website.
As for the legal fees involved with both of these cases, Morral said he did not have those figures. In June 2009, Waber said costs for litigation, expert fees and minimal labor fees for ongoing problems over the construction of the 126,000-square-foot high school were about $330,000.