Buckley, district in court today

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 6, 2001

Nearly eight years after former Superintendent Melvin Buckley left the Natchez-Adams School District, he will face his former employer in court for allegedly violating the terms of a settlement agreement finalized after the school board voted not to renew his contract.

&uot;It’s unfortunate it had to come to this,&uot; Buckley said. &uot;It would have been a very simple thing for them to honor the settlement agreement.&uot;

A trial is scheduled for today in Adams County Circuit Court.

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Harvey Fiser, an attorney representing the school district, said the lawsuit stems from an agreement allowing Buckley to continue to work for the school district after his non-renewal as superintendent.

He was to work for the school district on special projects for two years at the salary of $18,000 a year.

&uot;My only concern was being able to get my retirement in place,&uot; Buckley said.

The two years would have allowed Buckley to earn the 25 years he desired for state retirement.

&uot;Buckley believes or is arguing that we have breached the settlement agreement,&uot; Fiser said.

Fiser would not comment on the specifics of the case except to say that the school district does not think it is liable.

Fiser said Buckley is suing for $2.5 million but Buckley said Friday he had not heard that amount.

According to the lawsuit, the school board hired Buckley as superintendent in 1988, but in October 1992 the attorneys for the school district told him it did not want to renew his contract as superintendent of schools for the 1993-94 school year.

In the lawsuit, Buckley claims that the school district did not honor the settlement agreement by denying him the two-year contract and not allowing him to work for that additional time period. He was terminated in September 1993, the lawsuit reads.

Jury selection in the trial will begin Tuesday morning. Fiser said he excepted the trial to last several days because of the large number of witnesses.