In the media:
- Mlive: "Clio Board of Education fires former superintendent after hearing on allegations of theft, pornography" 02/18/2015
- Mlive: "Clio schools to settle lawsuit by ex-superintendent for $275K, lawyer says" 02/22/2016
- WNEM TV5: "District settles lawsuit with ex-superintendent for $275,000" 02/22/2016
- Education Week: "District settles lawsuit with ex-superintendent for $275,000" 02/22/2016
Description of the case:
Fired Clio Superintendent Dr. James Tenbusch was just paid $275,000 to settle his lawsuit by the same people who falsely accused him of having pornography on his computer!! His IT Director, who was fired for refusing to put "spyware" on the computers of unsuspecting administrators, received $25,000.
PhD Dr. James Tenbusch was hired by Clio Area Schools as its Superintendent by written contract, which remunerated Dr. Tenbusch at the rate of $145,000/year plus benefits. The adequate salary was in recognition of Dr. Tenbusch's impressive education credentials and leadership qualities, and he always put the welfare of the students first and foremost, as it should be.
Unfortunately, petty School District politics destroyed the peace and tranquility of Clio High School, and sabotaged the educational mission Dr. Tenbusch sought to maintain for the welfare of the students. Specifically, another political faction at the School District led by Defendant Fletcher Spears and Defendant Stephen Keskes sought to oust Dr. Tenbusch, and in attempting to do so, did the following:
(1) Disciplined Dr. Tenbusch on trumped up charges such as:
a. Smoking on the School grounds;
b. Not wearing a tie to an event held during the summer break attended primarily by other administrators;
c. Shaking hands "too hard"(!);
d. For criticizing the Union;
(2) Suspended Dr. Tenbusch, and seized his computers;
(3) Appointed Defendant Spears as "Co-Superintendent", in such a way that it greatly decreased Dr. Tenbusch's job duties and responsibilities, as set forth in the written contract; and
(4) Falsely but loudly claimed that Dr. Tenbusch "put porn on the computers" at School.
Based on the above trumped up and phony charges, Defendants fired Dr. Tenbusch and refused to pay him in accordance with his written contract.
The two IT experts Defendants themselves claimed would "prove" Dr. Tenbusch put porn on the School computers were (1) Mr. G. Takimura, and (2) another School District's Mr. Wittum. On cross-examination, Mr. G. Takimura, whom Defendant Spears and Defendant School had paid $50,000, had to admit that Defendants' theory on how Dr. Tenbusch allegedly misused the computers was untenable, and could not be used to show Dr. Tenbusch engaged in wrongdoing. Moreover, the other School District's Mr. Wittum also submitted a written report indicating that "anyone could have put porn on the computer", as lax as computer security was at Clio High School.
In other words, Dr. Tenbusch's attorneys were prepared to prove at trial that Defendants own Mr. Takimura whom they paid $50,000, repudiated and refuted Defendants' theory of liability such that Defendants changed their position and said, "He's not our expert". Additionally, Plaintiff's counsel were prepared to show at trial that the other expert Defendants claimed to be relying upon, Mr. Wittum, would have testified that "anyone at Clio High School could have put porn on the computer". Just before the case was set to go to trial, Defendants paid $275,000 to settle the case. Moreover, Defendants also paid Bruce Richards, the IT expert under Superintendent Dr. Tenbusch, who refused Defendants' request to put "spyware" on computers of unsuspecting administrators and teachers at Clio Schools, another $25,000 to avoid having to go to trial on his case. The total amount Defendants paid for this fiasco they themselves created was $300,000.
Type of Action: Breach of Contract
Injuries Alleged: Wrongful discharge from approximately $145k/year Superintendent position
Name of Case: Tenbusch v. Clio Area Schools., et al AND Richards v. Clio Area Schools, et al
Court: Genesee County Circuit Court
Case No: 14-102904-CZ; 14-103787-CZ
Name of Judge: Hon. Archie Hayman
Date of ADR Settlement: 2/19/16Attorney for Plaintiff: Tom R. Pabst, Michael A. Kowalko and Jarrett M. Pabst
Attorney for Defendants: withheld
Key to Winning: Successfully using Defendants' own IT experts to repudiate Defendants' false and phony reasons for Plaintiff's termination