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WEBSYLVSCHOOLMTG25pSavita Jindal was fired as foo File photo from 2013, showing Savita Jindal, who was fired as food-service director for Sylvania Public Schools that year.
File photo from 2013, showing Savita Jindal, who was fired as food-service director for Sylvania Public Schools that year.
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Published: Tuesday, 7/15/2014

School board settles suit

Sylvania district to pay ex-food director $525,741

BY NATALIETRUSSO CAFARELLO
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Sylvania school district reached a monetary settlement with former food service director Savita Jindal, whom the district fired last year.

The board voted Monday to approve a separation agreement, which calls for a settlement of $525,741.

The settlement includes two years of back pay, legal fees, and out-of-pocket-expenses for health insurance.

A board document stated that $475,000 of that settlement cost will be covered by liability insurance.

Mrs. Jindal, who was hired in 2006, was fired by the school board Feb. 25, 2013, after the board said she misreported the number of free and reduced-price lunches served in the 2011-2012 school year.

The district receives monetary credits from the state for those type of lunches. An arbitrator appointed by the Ohio Department of Education to hear both sides of the case in 2012 recommended that Mrs. Jindal retain her position and that the district’s software was to blame for the inaccurate records.

In a joint statement by Mrs. Jindal and the school district released Monday, the parties announced that the district was reversing its dismissal of Mrs. Jindal.

The statement said the parties reached an agreement to resolve litigation and to avoid “further cost and time of litigation.”

In March, 2013, Mrs. Jindal filed a complaint with the Lucas County Common Pleas Court asking to be reinstated to her former job with back pay and interest, to have the administrative charges brought against her and the record of the hearing expunged, and to have the school district pay her attorney fees.

In a separate complaint filed with the court that month, Mrs. Jindal accused the school district, Superintendent Brad Rieger, and Human Resources Director Jane Spurgeon of defamation in the matter.

“I am happy that after two years of litigation we have two decisions from respected legal authorities vindicating my actions. As you know, the settlement agreement and the two decisions are matters of public record and I think they speak for themselves. I am very pleased to put this issue behind me and move on with my life,” Mrs. Jindal said.

She was referring to the arbitrators’ 2012 decision and a Feb. 10 Common Pleas Court ruling in her favor. The school district initially appealed the Feb. 10 decision.

In the Feb. 10 ruling, Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Linda Jennings stated “the Board’s numerous misstatements of fact and mischaracterizations of evidence, as detailed in Jindal’s reply brief, are unavailing. The court finds that taken in context and as a whole, Jindal’s testimony and the balance of the evidence do not support the board’s conclusions or decision to terminate Jindal’s contract.”

Mr. Rieger and Chief Financial Officer Laura Sauber would not comment.

“The parties agreed to that joint statement and we do not have anything else to add,” said Jennifer Stiff, the district’s legal counsel of the Columbus firm Scott, Scriven and Wahoff.

The separation agreement, signed by Mrs. Jindal on July 7, reinstates her to her administrative position effective August 1, 2012, to July 31, 2016, with a two-year back pay totaling $171,256.

However, Mrs. Jindal will be on an unpaid leave of absence beginning Aug. 1 until the end of her contract.

Her resignation beginning July 31, 2016, has already been accepted and approved by the board.

At the end of her contract the school is obligated to pay her school employment retirement credits, which are accrued for retirement benefits, for the two years she was on unpaid leave of absence, if she decides to purchase them.

Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356, or ntrusso@theblade.com, or on Twitter @natalietrusso.



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