Former Yellow Springs teacher countersues district, asks for $100K in damages

Yellow Springs Schools campus on East Enon Road includes Yellow Springs High School and McKinney Middle School.  Greene Educational Services Center is also located on the campus.  TY GREENLEES / STAFF
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Yellow Springs Schools campus on East Enon Road includes Yellow Springs High School and McKinney Middle School. Greene Educational Services Center is also located on the campus. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

A woman being sued by Yellow Springs Schools, her former employer, seeks more than $100,000 in damages as part of a counterclaim against the district.

David Duwel, the attorney for former Yellow Springs physical education teacher Angela Bussey, filed an answer and counterclaim late last week to the school district’s April 26 lawsuit.

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Bussey admits to the district’s claims in its suit that she made comments under the online profile “Gela May” about the settlement she reached with the district in 2015, according to Duwel’s filing with the Greene County Clerk of Courts.

The agreement between Bussey and the district settled her claims that she was bullied and harassed by the high school principal, Tim Krier, according to court records.

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Part of the terms of the settlement were that neither Bussey nor the district can disclose the details of the agreement.

However, according to Duwel's filing with the court, details of the settlement had already been made public by the district in June 2015, when the Yellow Springs News published an article about the case.

A clip of the article is included in Duwel’s filing. The article cites school documents that show Bussey received four quarterly evaluations showing a “low degree of professional competence” resulting in the principal not recommending renewing her contract with the district. The article further discloses that the district paid Bussey $20,000 and was to remove the negative evaluations from her personnel file.

Duwel asks that the district’s complaint against Bussey be dismissed.

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As part of Bussey’s defense, Duwel states that as mental health therapist, School Board President Aida Merhemic treated his client for “emotional distress and anxiety arising out of defendant’s bullying and harassing allegations” against the district, and Merhemic did not disclose her relationship with the district, according to Duwel’s filing. \

Merhemic is a counselor at the Yellow Springs Psychological Center, according to her biographical details on the district's website.

In addition, court records show Duwel filed a counterclaim against the district stating that documents relating to Bussey not being rehired by the district were not removed from his client’s personnel file, a condition of the settlement.

Bussey’s personnel file with the negative evaluations included was released to a “third person” and has been disseminated to the public, according to Duwel’s counterclaim.

“As a result of plaintiff’s breach of its obligations … defendant has been damaged in respect to her reputation in the education community as plaintiff’s disclosures have been disseminated on the internet to a significant extent, also impacting defendant’s ability to secure additional educational opportunities in the future,” according to Duwel’s filing.

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For the counterclaim, Duwel is seeking more than $100,000 in damages for his client as well as court costs, attorney fees, for the court to order the district to comply with the settlement agreement and any other relief as the court sees fit to impose.

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