Northfield school district to pay former curriculum coordinator $437,500

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NORTHFIELD – The Northfield Board of Education voted Monday to accept the terms of a settlement reached Jan. 16 in a lawsuit brought against the district by former curriculum coordinator Carol Ferguson.

Under the settlement Ferguson will be paid $437,500, District Superintendent Janice Fipp told The Current Wednesday, Jan. 30.

The district’s insurance carrier will cover half the cost. The school district’s cost will be paid in two installments of $109,375, one immediately and the other in January of 2014, the superintendent said.

The settlement agreement includes Ferguson’s resignation effective immediately as an employee of the district, according to a statement released Monday, Jan. 28 by the school board. Neither party admitted any wrongdoing, the statement said.

“Although prior attempts to resolve the matter amicably were unsuccessful, an opportunity presented itself to settle the dispute on terms acceptable to both the Board of Education and Dr. Ferguson,” the board stated in the release.

“The settlement was reached to avoid continued litigation costs, both in time and in money, for all concerned.”

Ferguson, who lives in Northfield, was curriculum coordinator for the district from 2004-2010. She filed the lawsuit against the district under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act, commonly known as the whistleblower act, in 2010. The curriculum coordinator position was eliminated the same year.

Up until the settlement was reached, she was teaching social studies at the middle school.

Fipp said the district had not budgeted for the settlement per se in this budget year, but it did take a portion of the money from surplus fund balance. The district will budget for the expenditure in the next year’s spending plan, she said.

“The board is always mindful of the community’s expectation of it and of our schools; we can assure you that the settlement will not impact the student’s educational program, and the budget can support it,” the statement from the board said.

Ferguson, who was represented in the lawsuit by attorney Jeffrey Caccese of Cherry Hill, confirmed the amount of the settlement in an email.

She said she has one regret.

“It very much saddens me not to be able to say goodbye to my students,” Ferguson wrote.


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