A former Peoples Academy teacher who accused his superintendent of pushing him out the door on trumped-up charges for criticizing her leadership has prevailed in federal court.
A jury has found that Lamoille South Unified Union Superintendent Tracy Wrend was retaliating against David Bain, a veteran teacher in the district, when she disciplined him and later recommended he be fired. Bain was awarded $150,000 in damages.
The trial in U.S. District Court in Rutland opened on Monday and lasted three days. Bain’s attorney, Chandler Matson, a lawyer with the Barr Law Group in Stowe, said the jury deliberated for about three hours on Wednesday evening.
In an email, Matson wrote that Bain is “relieved, thankful, and ultimately happy that his story was heard and affirmed by the jury.”
“Hopefully, this trial and the verdict brings about an end to a painful and costly ordeal, which has carried on for five years,” he said.
Wrend referred comment to her attorney, Pietro Lynn, who said that he and his client were “disappointed” by the decision, which “was not supported by the evidence in case or the law charged by the judge.”
Lynn, a lawyer with the Burlington-based firm of Lynn, Lynn, Blackman & Manitsky, suggested that the case is far from settled.
“We will pursue any available legal avenues to prevail, including an appeal of the verdict,” he said in a statement. “The matter is not concluded.”
Bain, who had worked in the district for 25 years, was fired in September 2014. He argued in court that Wrend began building a case for his dismissal after he called union members to a meeting where he advocated for a “no confidence” vote in the superintendent. His chief complaint was that older employees who were actively involved in the union appeared to be getting pushed out by the administration.
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