A New York school district has avoided a costly lawsuit by settling with a former teacher out of court. Thomas A. Snyder, a retired teacher formerly of the Chenango Valley Central School District, filed the lawsuit in 2013. The move was a response to the Board of Education’s refusal to hire a defense attorney for Snyder who had been accused of harassing a student.
The incident involved a 15 year-old who was on an academic support plan. Under the plan, the student believed he was entitled to extra time to complete an test. Snyder disagreed, and stated that he planned to give the student a zero on the test. Alyssa Driesbaugh, a teacher’s aide who was present in the classroom at the time, testified through a supporting statement that Snyder had “started yelling and pointing his finger (at the student)” when they disagreed over whether or not extra time should be allowed on the test.
A formal police complaint was filed by the student, and Snyder was charged with second degree harassment. Snyder immediately went to the school board to request legal assistance with the matter, but was refused. He subsequently sued the district with the help of attorneys from New York State United Teachers. This organization is a union that provides support and assistance to teachers throughout the state.
In a confidential settlement that was signed on October 17, 2013, the school district made an agreement to pay Snyder nearly $8,000 if he would withdraw the lawsuit. In the agreement, the school district explicitly denied any liability in the matter.
Snyder retired shortly after the incident, and it appears that the school district made a wise decision by seeking a efficient, confidential settlement rather than going forward with a lawsuit that would surely have brought negative media attention.