Forgoing an appeal hearing, fired Greenacres Junior High teacher Tony Benson and the Central Valley School District have reached a termination settlement.
Benson was fired last July. He was accused of “using extremely poor judgment” in his comments to and actions with students, and of insubordination.
CV attorney Paul Clay said the school district will pay Benson $30,000. He cannot apply for reinstatement and has agreed to stay off school grounds during class hours.
Benson, the district’s lone black teacher, agreed to the terms of the settlement, but continues to maintain that the accusations are false.
“I settled not because I did anything wrong,” Benson said. “If I had won the case, which I think I could have, I would have had to return to a hostile environment I was in and simply didn’t want to do that. For that reason I decided to settle the case, put the matter behind me and move on with my life.”
Clay said school district officials believed the payment was appropriate.
“From the school district’s standpoint, it made a lot of sense to resolve ahead of time,” said Clay. “A number of students would have to testify and it’s always nice to spare them going through the anxiety.”
Benson’s attorney, Carl Oreskovich said, “We felt the settlement was appropriate under the circumstances. When you go through hearings anything can happen. Tony’s been through a difficult time in his life.”
The school district has forwarded the Benson complaint to the state superintendent of public instruction, which could revoke his teaching certificate. Meanwhile, Benson can seek employment elsewhere.
“I don’t know what his plans are at this point,” said Oreskovich.