Ex-bus driver settles second complaint against schools; collects $65,000

by Jeff Saunders | Reporter Published:

Nordonia Hills -- A former school bus driver fired twice by the school district has agreed to settle a retaliation complaint against the schools for $65,000, according to a settlement negotiated between the driver and the district's liability insurance carrier, which is handling the case on the district's behalf.

It is former bus driver Tina Haynal's second cash settlement resulting from complaints she has filed against the district since she was fired for the first time in 1998. Her first settlement, for $30,000 in 2002, ended a wrongful termination complaint she filed in 1999.

The second settlement, entered into Summit County Court of Common Pleas records Jan. 31, comes after a harassment complaint she filed after she was fired for the second time in 2005.

According to the Jan. 31 judgement order, Common Pleas Judge Thomas Teodosio ordered the most recent case between Haynal and the district marked "settled and dismissed."

Haynal could not be reached for comment.

"All I can say is, I think the outcome was fair," said Michael Conway, Haynal's attorney. "I think it's reasonable."

He declined to comment further.

District Superintendent Joe Clark said district costs are being covered by insurance.

"There is literally no cost to the district, other than the ample time the business office has spent gathering documents for the insurance company," said Clark.

Clark, who was not working for the district at the time of Haynal's firing, also declined to comment further.

The Haynal case originally stems from a 1998 incident in which Haynal alleged she was fired for refusing an order by her supervisor to park bumper-to-bumper behind another bus at Ledgeview Elementary School. Haynal claimed parking in that manner would have blocked a curbside handicap cut and thus been a violation of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

An arbitrator ordered the district to rehire Haynal in 1999, without back pay, and Haynal settled her 1999 wrongful termination complaint with the district in 2002 for $30,000.

Haynal filed a second complaint against the district in December 2004, alleging that since she was rehired, the district had harassed and discriminated against her because of the earlier complaint.

The Board of Education unanimously voted to fire Haynal at a public hearing in May 2005. The resolution to fire her outlined numerous alleged incidents of Haynal allegedly failing to control children on her bus. Haynal denied the allegations.

Haynal refiled her 2004 complaint in 2007, this time alleging the district not only retaliated against her, but interfered with her attempts to get a job as a bus driver with other districts. District officials denied all the allegations.

A jury ruled for the district in 2010, but the Ninth District Court of Appeals the next year ruled that the common pleas court "erred" in excluding evidence from the 1999 litigation and ordered the case returned to the common pleas court.

The Jan. 31 settlement states the district is released from all claims that may stem from Haynal's complaint, and that the settlement is being made "entirely for purposes of settling a dispute."

Email: jsaunders@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9432

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