Navasota ISD Settles Mable Lawsuit

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A federal lawsuit between the Navasota Independent School District and Mary Mable was dismissed last week after the two parties agreed on a settlement.

Mable is to be paid $75,000 through NISD's liability coverage provider, and in turn, Mable will dismiss her lawsuit with prejudice against the school district and release NISD and any of its current or former employees or trustees from any claims she might have brought in the suit.

Mable's federal suit against the school district alleged she had been subjected to a racially hostile work environment and that her employment had been terminated in retaliation for her complaints of discrimination. NISD denies the allegations and, according to a joint press release from both parties, the settlement "is not an admission of liability or wrongdoing by the school district or any of its employees."

"The District certainly recognizes the seriousness of Ms. Mable's allegations," NISD Superintendent Rory Gesch said in the press release. Our staff and administration would never knowingly tolerate discriminatory treatment of staff. We are pleased to resolve this issue so that NISD can continue to focus on its commitment to maintaining a welcoming and diverse workplace.

"By entering into this settlement, the District seeks to avoid protracted, expensive and potentially divisive litigation.

Though Mable told The Examiner she could not comment on the matter because of confidentiality issues, her statement in the release said, "I commend the District on working cooperatively on today's settlement, and on making a strong commitment to the fair treatment of all employees.

Both Gesch and Mable said, in the release, that they welcome the end to expensive litigation in order to allow the District to turn its attention to further prevention and elimination of any workplace or educational barriers.

The District will pay a $2,500 deductible to cover its portion of the $75,000.

Some of the agreements settled on include:

• Mable acknowledges she is not eligible to be hired by the school district. She also agrees to neither seek, nor accept, employment within the district.

• NISD agrees to allow reasonable access to its facilities and school-sponsored events to Mable in the same manner it is offered to other citizens of the District. Mable also agrees not to use the District's public comment section of its school board meetings; although, the District's public grievance process under policies GF Legal and GF Local remain available to her.

• Other than to her spouse, Mable agrees not to criticize NISD or any of its past or present trustees or employees concerning facts up to and including the date of Mable's execution of the agreement surrounding the prosecution or defense of this suit.

• Mable may represent to prospective employers that her employment at NISD ended with her resignation. Mable understands that NISD will not modify its employment records or any other records to reflect such, but will make representations to prospective employers using its normal procedures.

This suit stems back to early 2008 with Mable's filing of a police report January 22, stating she believes her life is in danger and named 16 individuals, mostly NISD personnel, as possible suspects, in the event that something should happen to her. According to a report in The Examiner on March 12, 2008, she also accused local radio and newspaper representatives, and a teacher with whom she had no daily contact with, as part of her list of possible suspects.

A grievance was filed by Navasota ISD employeesthat was presented to the board by Tom Hulon, Corey Buckley and Amy Jarvis after Martina Cartwright, Mable's attorney, challenged the group's attorney, Joe Falco III, saying she felt there could be a 'conflict of interest" since Falco had previously served on the Board of Trustees and could be privy to confidential information which she said could be prejudicial to her client.

In making his statement, Hulon said Mable's action interfered with the named NISD employees being able to carry out their normal duties, some of which required them to have contact with Mable and having to worry about what she might do or accuse them of. Buckley, a Navasota High School assistant principal, and junior high principal Amy Jarvis echoed Hulon's statement saying they too felt uncomfortable when having to deal with Mable and issues at the Learning Center. Other NISD personnel named in the statement did not speak but were present at the hearing.

The grievants requested that (1) The NISD Board of Trustees' direct Superintendent of Schools terminate Mrs. Mable: (2) Mrs. Mable become ineligible for all future employment with the Navasota ISD; and, (3) Mrs. Mable be placed on administrative leave and denied access to all NISD facilities in the event that further investigation is warranted by the NISD Board of Trustees.

In addition to citing concerns of having to deal with Mable, some of those named were concerned that personal information had been published in the report.

After hearing both sides of a level three grievance hearing and going behind closed doors with their attorney for two hours, the Navasota ISD Board of Trustees, on a 6-to-1 vote, authorized the immediate termination of Mary Mable, a secretary at the Navasota Education Learning Center.

In the joint press release by both parties in this settlement, Gesch said, "I have known Ms. Mable a long time, and although we had to part ways, her dedication to the students of the District has never been in doubt. Ms. Mable will now be allowed to enjoy her grandchildren's school activities.