RICHLAND, Wash. - New developments in the dismissal of former Richland School Superintendent Jim Busey. On Monday he filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the School District and the board's five members.
The lawsuit claims Busey's civil rights were violated when he was fired in January. Busey was let go after accusations of having an affair with a district employee and a month-long investigation that is now the center of the lawsuit's claims.
"We're not worried," said school board president Rick Jansons who is named as one of the defendants, along with the rest of the school board.
"The claims are going to be whatever they're going to be. Our attorneys will deal with whatever's in there and we followed the process," Jansons said.
"State law creates property interest of employment... That property interest is protected by the United States constitution and a hearing must be provided," said Busey's attorney Brian Iller.
The lack of a hearing is the crux of the lawsuit in which Busey is seeking in excess of one million dollars. Iller said about $880,000 of that is what the rest of Busey's contract would have paid out.
"That doesn't include his damages for the emotional distress, mental suffering and embarrassment that he's gone through due to the School District's conduct," Iller said.
The lawsuit claims the school district completed an investigation into Busey's affair and Busey was told his job was secure. Busey and his lawyer said the district then started another investigation after people started asking questions.
"I just think it's very unfortunate that the School District changed it's position after the initial investigation with the correct result and engaged in this secondary investigation to try to dig up dirt and find a reason to terminate Dr. Busey," Iller said.
District officials, however, said there was only ever one investigation.
"The lawsuit is not unexpected at all. The board is continuing to look forward. We're looking toward our new superintendent, we're looking forward to implementing the results of the bond election and we're looking forward to improving our district," Jansons said.
Iller said now that this lawsuit has been filed, both parties will now go through a 'discovery' process including depositions and testimonies under oath. Then this case will either go to court or a settlement will be reached.