In a settlement between Mustang Public Schools and fired Mustang Public Schools Athletic Director Chester “Chuck” Bailey Jr., the school district agreed to pay Bailey $137,500.
The agreement was reached in principal at a settlement conference at the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Oklahoma City on Nov. 2, and the settlement agreement was filed Nov. 14.
The settlement conference came after an appeals court reversed a federal district court’s ruling against Bailey’s challenge of the firing and sent it back for a new trial.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit cited errors made by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma in Bailey’s suit.
Bailey claimed former Superintendent Sean McDaniel violated his First Amendment right to freedom of expression by firing him based on two letters of support that Bailey wrote advocating a reduced sentence for his nephew, Dustin Graham.
Graham pleaded guilty on state charges stemming from video recordings he made of women in the bathroom of his apartment without their consent.
The district court made a summary judgment – a ruling without a full trial – upholding the firing.
The district court concluded that Bailey’s letters were of a personal nature and were not protected by the right for individuals to express views.
“We disagree,” the appeals court wrote, and it referred to a case that serves as a precedent: “Matters of public concern are issues ‘of interest to the community, whether for social, political or personal reasons.’”