A psychologist employed by the Brick school district settled a lawsuit for $510,000, records obtained by Shorebeat showed.
Laurena Staub, who first sued the district in 2016, reached the settlement with her employer late in 2017, according to documents obtained via a request under the state’s Open Public Records Act.
Staub claimed in a lawsuit that she was penalized and subjected to retaliation over her refusal to sign off on educational services for a child she did not believe was entitled to them. She also claimed she was targeted after cooperating with prosecutors investigating suspended Superintendent Walter Uszenski, who was previously accused of providing educational services to his disabled grandchild that the child was alleged not to have been entitled to receive. The bulk of those charges have since been dropped against Uszenski after two grand jury indictments were thrown out of court. Services for Uszenski’s grandson were previously authorized by the state, and court filings have shown he is receiving the same services in a new, out-of-state district. Neither the lawsuit nor settlement divulged the identity of the child whose services were in question.
The settlement between Staub and the district was reached in Dec. 2017, but only came to light following a recent request of the district’s legal records by Shorebeat. The suit named a slew of district officials, including Uszenski, former Board of Education members and various school employees. Staub claimed the alleged retaliation against her began in 2013 and continued into 2016. Specifically, she claimed she was denied equipment to perform her job correctly, lost summer work and was denied medical leave. She also said accommodations made for her due to injuries sustained in a 2008 automobile accident were taken away.
Staub was placed on paid leave on Nov. 20, 2015, but was ultimately reinstated May 16, 2016.
According to the settlement document, Staub agreed to drop her lawsuit in exchange for $510,000. Of that amount, $485,000 was paid by the school district’s insurance carrier and $25,000 was to be paid directly by the district. The district also agreed not to force Staub to repay a $10,000 indemnity payment claim.
The district, according to the settlement, “expressly [denies] the validity” of the “disputed” claims.
Both parties agreed to a confidentiality clause as part of the settlement, however such agreements are pre-empted by the state’s public records law when a public agency agrees to settle a claim.