CMS settles with former teacher for $680K

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte - Mecklenburg school (CMS) district has forked over some big money to a former Community House Middle school teacher. The district settled to give Jeffrey Leardini $680,000.  The judge award him more than one million dollars but CMS appealed.

Leardini sued the district earlier this year.  He argued CMS violated his rights and he claims the district forced him to resign after he was accused of inappropriately touching girls.

"I think they jumped the gun," Charlotte - Mecklenburg Association of Educators Former President Dot Cromwell said.  "I think they should have taken the high road."

Cromwell was president of the local teachers' association when Leardini was asked to resign.

She also think CMS should change its ways when dealing with a sensitive matters involving teachers.

"I think CMS needs to tighten up," Cromwell said.  "I really think they need to make sure they don't misstep prior to completing an investigation. I think it would be good for CMS to maybe have a workshop, or make it part of teacher orientation that this, this and this should not happen."

CMS says it changed no policy.  It believes it wasn't warranted.

"I would caution anyone from over reacting to the set of facts in front of us," CMS Attorney George Battle said.  "And making policy based on an anomalous situation."

Leardini's lawyer thinks CMS should learn a lesson and teachers should know their rights.

"Follow the statutory process," Leardini's Attorney S. Luke Largess said.  "And you don't pressure people, assume that they are guilty. Let the process work its way out, give the people the rights they have, if in fact they have done something wrong, that will come out."

Cromwell agrees but disagrees with the $680,000 amount.  She thinks Leardini should have received the million.

"He really deserved it," Cromwell said.  "Because of what happened and how CMS messed up his life and teaching career."

CMS agreed to remove words such as resignation, termination or suspension from Leardini's record. They will instead place a copy of the settlement in his file.

Largess said he feared since CMS appealed this could go back to trial.  That's why both parties agreed to $680,000.