Thursday, April 24, 2014 12:15 PM
Published on: Thursday, May 16, 2013
By Holden Wilen
ROCKVILLE - Montgomery County has agreed to a settlement with six former Kemp Mill Elementary School teachers in a $108 million lawsuit which came about because of alleged verbal abuse, harassment and retaliation by the school’s principal, Floyd Starnes.
The settlement, agreed to on May 8 according to court documents, came a day after Judge Ronald B. Rubin denied the county’s motion for summary judgment which meant the case would go to trial on May 13. The details of the settlement have not been disclosed because both sides signed a confidentiality agreement.
According to the joint pretrial statement, the six teachers say Starnes targeted them by fabricating false personnel records because they reported to superiors that Starnes was taking children into closets for 30 minutes at a time, assaulting and inappropriately touching male teachers and violating federal and state laws by failing to provide adequate services to special education students.
“The case has been settled to the satisfaction of all employees,” said Heather Mulloy, associate county attorney.
Robert Weltchek, the attorney representing the teachers, confirmed a settlement was reached and said he assumes it was a fully binding agreement.
By law the Board of Education must approve all payments greater than $25,000, but Patricia Via, chief for the county’s division of litigation which represented Starnes and the school system, said there is no requirement for the money agreed to in the settlement to go before the Board of Education for a vote of approval because the Board carries comprehensive liability insurance to protect itself and employees, as required by state law.
“Under that statute, the BOE is self-insured up to $100,000 per occurrence,” Via said. “The Board participates in the Montgomery County Self-Insurance Program and any settlements or judgments are paid through the Self-Insurance Program within the Board’s self-insurance limits.”
An occurrence, Via said, does not refer to the number of plaintiffs. In this case, she said, there was one occurrence and the maximum amount offered in a settlement would be $100,000.
As for Starnes, it is unclear if he was included in the one occurrence or if he was covered separately by his union, the Montgomery County Association of Administrators and Principals (MCAAP). According to an agreement between the Board and MCAAP, the Board carries comprehensive general liability policy which would cover Starnes for up to $1.55 million. In his deposition taken in November 2012, Starnes said he had not contacted his union about insurance.
Starnes was not available for comment. Dana Tofig, Montgomery County Public Schools spokesman, said he cannot comment on personnel matters but confirmed Starnes is still the principal at Kemp Mill.
Posted By: PWH On: 5/18/2013
This is amazing. MCPS Spokesman Dana Tofig states that "he cannot comment on personnel matters" when in fact this was not a personnel matter but a matter of public litigation of a series of factual infractions of the law by the Principal and subsequent coverups by MCPS to cover his back side. Touching male staffers sexually, taking young boys into closets without witnesses and doing many things such as altering statements of fact and interjecting his wishes are not what MCPS wants. It is rumored that the Principal will be leaving MCPS for a position in another State this June. Why wait. This parallels what's going on in Washington. Musical Chairs?
Posted By: olneypara1968 On: 5/18/2013
Title: Pedo Principal Survives
School system is unable to have case tossed out repeatedly. Teachers are paid off with hush money on the eve of the trial. Starnes can continue to grope male teachers and take young boys into the closet for sexual gratification.