August 23, 2019
Laguna Beach Unified School Board of Education Hires Law Firm to Defend Against Potential Litigation by Board Member Dee Perry
LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. – At a Special Board meeting on August 22, the Laguna Beach Unified School District Board of Education voted 3-0-2 to approve a one-year agreement with Rutan & Tucker, LLP for representation and defense in litigation threatened by board member Dee Perry. Members Vickers, Normandin, and Kelly voted to approve the agreement; Members Perry and Wolff were absent.
Perry’s attorney, Kathleen Loyer, issued a notice of intent to file a lawsuit on behalf of Member Perry on June 26, 2019, alleging two actions by the Board with which she disagreed, and statements made in the decision-making process, were defamatory, discriminatory, and a violation of her rights. The notice states an intent to file a lawsuit to seek injunctive relief and unspecified money damages for emotional distress and a hostile work environment. The Board’s action approving a contract arranges for legal representation and allocates funds for the defense in the event Member Perry follows through on her threat to initiate litigation.
The District, through counsel, and at the request of Ms. Loyer, has responded to Member Perry’s claims in a letter which describes a number of reasons for the District’s position that Ms. Perry lacks a good faith basis for initiating litigation. The letter also explicitly conveys that despite the Board’s position, it is “completely open to a good faith, forward-looking, and principled attempt to resolve the issues, which it feels are currently and unnecessarily distracting the Board’s and District staff’s attention from the student-focused mission of the District.”
Board President Jan Vickers commented: "The Board is resolute in its position that Dee Perry's threat to initiate litigation and seek monetary damages is without merit. Political disputes do not belong in the courts, and the Board actions she challenges were lawful and in good faith. But we had to take action to arrange for counsel to represent us in the event she follows through on her litigation threat.” Vickers added “we are also serious in conveying a desire to resolve the issues and get our focus back on students, where it belongs, and I hope Member Perry feels the same way.”
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