Seattle Public Schools and its legal insurer will pay $400,000 to settle a wrongful termination suit brought by the district’s former athletic director, Eric McCurdy, in 2018.
The Seattle School Board approved the settlement agreement Wednesday in a 5-1 vote. The district will pay $133,000, and its insurer will pay the rest.
McCurdy, the former president of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA), was fired in December 2018 after he was the subject of a harassment complaint from a former district employee. The employee received a $500,000 settlement from the district in October of that year.
He argued the termination violated his constitutional rights and endangered his career.
At the time, McCurdy claimed the district’s decision was based on incomplete information and “hearsay.” His claim for damages stated his firing was “based on overt or implicit racial bias, assuming that Mr. McCurdy, an African American man, had acted inappropriately toward Ms. Brame, a Caucasian woman.” The claim said the district’s internal investigation was flawed and didn’t include interviews with all people on a list McCurdy provided. It called the lack of a nondisclosure agreement with the former employee who lodged a complaint against him “inept.”
Also as part of the settlement, neither the district nor McCurdy are able to discuss the matter publicly. School Board member Leslie Harris, the sole “no” vote on the proposal, said she couldn’t vote to approve based on this condition.
Local NAACP leaders who wanted Superintendent Denise Juneau’s contract terminated because she “exacerbated racism” have cited McCurdy as an example of one of several Black male leaders who were forced out or left the district, weakening diversity. Juneau ordered McCurdy’s firing; in December, Juneau announced she would not seek renewal of her contract, which ends in June.
The settlement proposal also required the district to assemble a list of McCurdy’s accomplishments while employed. They include his work to create an athletic hall of fame for students, his role as president of WIAA, and his procurement of a $2.7 million grant.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the School Board voted against renewing superintendent Denise Juneau’s contract. Juneau announced in December she would not be seeking a renewal.