Former Richland School Superintendent Jim Busey’s lawsuit against the district and school board now has a clearer path to a courtroom after the district dropped efforts to push the case to arbitration.
The district originally wanted Busey’s issue dealt with in arbitration and appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals after a federal judge ruled months ago that Busey’s lawsuit could go to trial. District officials decided an appeal could drag on for months.
“Waiting around for the 9th Circuit to make a decision isn’t necessary,” said Galt Pettet, the district’s in-house legal counsel. “We feel we have a really strong case.”
The case now returns to U.S. District Court in Eastern Washington, where a trial will be set. Busey’s attorney, Brian Iller of Kennewick, was not immediately available Monday to talk about the case.
Busey was dismissed in January 2013 for violating his contract’s morality clause for an extramarital affair he had with a district employee.
His dismissal also stemmed from “threats to misrepresent” the district, said district officials at the time, including claiming the board hid money in its budget and overestimated the money needed in a $98 million bond measure.
Busey and his attorney have said the relationship with the woman was consensual, and it became an issue only after it became public knowledge.
Busey also said he was discriminated against by being fired because of his marital status, while the other employee wasn’t disciplined. His lawsuit, filed more than two years ago in federal court, sought more than
$1 million in damages.
The district tried to have thelaw suit dismissed and moved to arbitration because its contends that’s what is called for in Busey’s contract.
The case also has been delayed by Busey trying to get depositions from the district’s legal team and by both sides asking for numerous extensions to collect evidence.