Lexington-Richland School District 5 has spent nearly $9,000 on a nearly year-long lawsuit against its former superintendent.
The school district spent $8,976.58 on a lawsuit against former superintendent Stephen Hefner after Hefner wrote to a credentialing agency asking how the district hired an acting superintendent, the district said in response to a request for access to information.
The school board voted to drop the lawsuit in September without the case going to trial, although Hefner continued to file a counterclaim against the school district.
The Lexington-Richland 5 School Board filed a lawsuit last November, claiming Hefner ‘interfered’ in the management of the school district when he and other former district officials wrote a letter to Cognia asking for a review. of the contract that Lexington-Richland 5 had signed. with its acting superintendent, Akil Ross. The letter criticized the arrangement, in which the district had contracted “superintendent services” with Ross’s educational consulting firm, HeartEd LLC, rather than hiring Ross directly as an employee of the district.
In its lawsuit, the school district called Hefner’s action “reprehensible, malicious and politically motivated” and claimed the letter contained “false information” that “involved wrongdoing” on the part of Ross and the district. . Ross was named permanent district superintendent in December.
In voting to drop the lawsuit, the school board cited Cognia’s decision not to pursue any action against the school district.
A Cognia representative told The State last November that the agency would take no action against the school district in response to Hefner’s complaint, saying it found “no reason to warrant further action.” in accordance with its policies and procedures and that the issue raised would not affect the accreditation of the district.
The council voted 4-3 two weeks later to go ahead with the lawsuit, although the council members who opposed it – Rebecca Blackburn Hines, Matt Hogan and Tifani Moore – argued the issue was not applicable due to Cognia’s decision. But the majority – Loveless, Nikki Gardner, Jan Hammond and Catherine Huddle – voted to go ahead with the lawsuit, with Loveless calling for a “formal apology” from Hefner.
The board again voted to proceed with the lawsuit, with the same vote distribution, no later than August 8.