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updated: 12/9/2012 6:11 AM

Fired principal still fighting Grayslake charter school in court

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  • Brian Greene

      Brian Greene

  • Video: "The Butterfly Effect"

  • Video: Brian Greene at charter school

 
 

Brian Greene is continuing his legal fight with Prairie Crossing Charter School in Grayslake, where he was the focus of public meetings about a year ago before he was fired.

Greene, 42, filed a lawsuit against Prairie Crossing in March, roughly three months after board members fired him. He seeks more than $50,000 in damages from the Grayslake public choice school for claims including breach of contract, defamation, civil conspiracy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

On Tuesday, Lake County Circuit Judge Diane Winter will hold a hearing based on a motion filed by Greene's attorney asking her to reconsider her order to dismiss much of the case.

Regardless of how the scheduled court session turns out, Winter has given Greene's side permission to file a second amended lawsuit against Prairie Crossing, if necessary.

Winter hasn't dismissed Greene's allegation about breach of contract.

In part, the Oct. 9 ruling issued by Winter states the Illinois Tort Immunity Act protects Prairie Crossing and other defendants connected to the school, which serves kindergarten through eighth grade. The act shields public bodies and employees from liability stemming from the operation of government.

Court documents filed by Greene's lawyer, Anthony Esposito, contend the judge did not correctly apply the Tort Immunity Act in the case.

Prairie Crossing attorney Julia Pearce recently filed documents in Lake County circuit court contending Winter should not reverse her decision. Pearce, who declined to comment on the case, wrote in court documents that the motion filed by Greene's side asking Winter to reconsider her ruling is frivolous.

School board President Steve Achtemeier said he believes it would be in Greene's best interest for the suit to end soon.

"Obviously, we'd like to put this behind us as fast as we can," Achtemeier said.

Since losing his Prairie Crossing job, Greene said he's obtained a real-estate license and secured a substitute teaching post and a chance to coach seventh-grade boys basketball at an elementary school he declined to identify for the 2012-13 academic year. He said he's trying to support three young children and has applied for dozens of administrative positions in education without success, despite having proper qualifications.

"Litigation against Prairie Crossing Charter School is still ongoing," Greene said. "I remain confident that the truth in what occurred there will be revealed, and my name and credibility can be restored."

Greene, who said the past 12 months have been difficult, had an $82,500 base-salary contract with a chance to receive $10,000 in bonuses when the Prairie Crossing board voted 9-0 to fire him Dec. 16, 2011. The school is accused in the suit of not paying his bonus for the 2011-12 school year and not contributing to his pension.

Prairie Crossing Executive Director Nigel Whittington, who was named individually in the complaint, placed Greene on paid administrative leave Nov. 29, 2011. That move led to crowded school board meetings attended by parents and teachers who demanded Greene's reinstatement, while others defended the Prairie Crossing officials.

At a Dec. 13, 2011, meeting, Greene said he didn't do anything illegal or unethical and played a recording of best-selling author Andy Andrews reciting a short story called "The Butterfly Effect." As one board member shuffled papers and Whittington sat with his hands clasped near his face, Greene held two speakers plugged into a laptop computer while the clip he found on YouTube played for nine minutes.

"Everything you do matters to all of us and forever," Andrews said in part.

Although Prairie Crossing officials never publicly stated a reason for Greene's firing, Whittington's letter recommending the action is attached to the lawsuit. He cited instances of Greene's conduct that he said were not in Prairie Crossing's best interest.

"On Sept. 19, 2011, you had a verbal outburst in the school building that was disruptive and unprofessional and detrimental to the best interests of (Prairie Crossing), in direct violation of the (school's) handbook," Whittington wrote. "Specifically, you yelled that it was my fault that the curriculum maps were not complete and that you hated every member of the board and couldn't wait for the 'blood bath' to occur during the board election."

Greene denies Whittington's accusations in the letter, according to court documents. Greene contends in the lawsuit he "has been denied subsequent employment due to defendants' statements as well as statements made to the press without a statement that his termination was not due to any illegal action or actions which impacted the health, well-being or safety of students, staff or families."

But Pearce countered in court papers there was no conspiracy or anything improper about how the Prairie Crossing board dismissed Greene for business reasons.

"Defendants did not have an obligation to issue a specific press release in order to help plaintiff find subsequent employment," Pearce wrote.

Prairie Crossing's legal bills have been covered by an insurance carrier since reaching a $5,000 deductible, officials said.

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