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 Expelled CAB Students to Settle for $207,000

(NOTE: This story contains errors. Please refer to story titled "Banner Error Explained" in the March 28 issue.)


March 21, 2007 - By a vote of 5-2, the Charles A. Beard School Board approved a $207,000 settlement Tuesday night that resolves civil rights lawsuits brought by three Knightstown High School sophomores suspended and ultimately expelled last fall for a horror film parody they created on their own time away from school.

Under terms of the settlement - which is actually three separate agreements - CAB's insurer will pay $69,000 each to KHS students Isaac Imel, Cody Overbay and Charlie Ours and their parents within 60 days. These payments are, according to the agreements, "full settlement" that cover "any and all damages, including, but not limited to alleged constitutional violations and attorney fees."

Imel and Overbay sued CAB last fall after being expelled over "The Teddy Bear Master," an amateur film they had worked on with Ours and a fourth student, Harrison Null. In their lawsuits, the boys alleged the film was protected speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and that CAB's expulsions had violated their constitutional rights. Ours was added as a third plaintiff in the case in late January.

At Tuesday night's school board meeting, CAB Superintendent David McGuire urged the board to approve the agreements. "The school district is not paying any of the settlement," he said. "And I would recommend that we go ahead and accept."

McGuire told the board that agreements had been reached during a settlement conference held at the federal courthouse in Indianapolis last month. He said the conference, which was overseen by a federal magistrate, had lasted most of the day.

While CAB doesn't have to pay any of the $207,000 that will be going to the students and their parents, the agreements do require the school corporation to expunge the suspensions and expulsions from the students' records. CAB must also allow the students to make up all school work that was missed during the 10 weeks they were out of school, and, in the case of two of the students, provide tutors, as needed.

Although the agreements include confidentiality provisions that prevent the students and their parents, as well as CAB, from discussing details of the settlement, McGuire explained to the board that the agreements would become public records as soon as the board approved them. He also told them that The Banner had already submitted a record request seeking copies of the agreements, and that he was prepared to provide the requested copies immediately following the meeting if the board approved them. When Board President Mike Fruth asked what would happen if the board did not approve the agreements, McGuire said, "Well, then we have a federal judge to deal with." McGuire told the board that if the agreements were not approved, CAB might incur substantial additional costs that its insurer would not cover.

Ron Womack and Leah Kopp joined fellow board members Larry Selvidge, Wade Beatty and Debi Ware in voting to approve the agreements, while Fruth and board member Kevin Knott cast the lone dissenting votes.

"I will make one comment," Fruth said moments after the vote. "I do not agree with our judicial system."



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