JCPS legal costs continue to stack up amid discrimination cases

Cost to taxpayers already surpasses $1.4M

JCPS legal costs stack up amid discrimination suits

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Three discrimination lawsuits in the last two years have left Jefferson City Public Schools on the hook for more than a million dollars in settlements and legal costs.

The most recent settlement was reached with former administrator Gretchen Guitard on April 6.

In the agreement, The district agreed to pay a quarter million of the $400,000 settlement, the rest to be paid by the district's insurance company Western World.

It was a similar arrangement to a 2016 settlement with former employee Laura Cooper.

In that instance, the district agreed to pay $255,000 of the $450,000 settlement.

Both of these lawsuits followed the judgment against the district in a lawsuit brought by Karen Ray, a former journalism teacher at Jefferson City High School.

A jury ruled in Ray's favor a few months before the Cooper settlement, and awarded her nearly $300,000 after mediation.

According to the district, there is no public record that shows how much of that judgment was paid by the insurance company.

The total amount of legal fees that district has accrued for its legal defense in the Cooper and Ray cases, equals $606,363.

Setting aside the payments made by the district's insurance company, the total estimated cost to taxpayers thus far in these lawsuits is more than $1.4 million.

The legal fees for the Guitard case have not been made public yet.

If the Tammy Ferry lawsuit is settled out of court in a similar manner as Guitard's and Cooper's, or if a jury rules against the district as it did in Ray's, the cost to taxpayers would very likely surpass $2 million.

ABC 17 News has spoken to the JCPS administration about the lawsuits in the past and that report can be viewed by following this link.

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