Education

Former official Bob Gagnon files amended suit against Manatee County School Board, claiming breach of contract

BRADENTON -- After a judge partially dismissed a lawsuit filed by a former Manatee County School District administrator and his wife, the couple has filed an amended complaint, claiming a breach of contract.

Bob Gagnon, a former Manatee High School principal and a former assistant superintendent, and his wife, Melissa Gagnon, an assistant principal at Braden River High School, have amended a lawsuit they originally filed against the school board in February.

In the newest complaint, the five-count lawsuit includes defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, interference with contractual relationship, breach of contract and loss of consortium. The amended lawsuit was filed Thursday.

"At this point, it's under evaluation," school district attorney Mitchell Teitelbaum said. "It's being reviewed for formal action."

The case arises from Gagnon's dismissal from the district during the Roderick Frazier child abuse case.

The Gagnons filed the defamation case against the school board and individually against then-Superintendent Rick Mills; Troy Pumphrey, district investigator at the time; former school board member Julie Aranibar; and school board member Karen Carpenter.

In July, Circuit Court Judge John Lakin dismissed part of the lawsuit, agreeing with the district's lawyer that the couple had not met precedent conditions, but Lakin left the lawsuit open to be amended and re-filed.

In July, John Romano, a lawyer for the Gagnons, said they would be re-filing the suit.

"We definitely will be filing an amended complaint, and we definitely are going to pursue this matter to the end," he said in July.

Gagnon was acquitted in criminal court on charges related to the Frazier case. Gagnon was also cleared by an administrative judge, who said the district failed to show enough evidence Gagnon violated any law, rule or board policy.

The board has since reimbursed Gagnon for back pay and legal fees, but he has not been rehired.

Aranibar lost her seat on the school board in November 2014 to Mary Cantrell.

Mills left his contract as superintendent and retired early. Mills was replaced by Diana Greene, who formerly served as the deputy superintendent of instruction.

Pumphrey was placed on administrative leave from the district in January after allegations he lied on his resume when applying to work in the district. His one-year contract with the district was not renewed and he is no longer employed by the district.

Pumphrey has filed his own lawsuit against the board and individually against board member Dave Miner.

In his suit, Pumphrey claims he was denied a promotion even though he was qualified, he has been discriminated against because he is black and his reputation has been irreparably damaged.

The district has also filed to dismiss Pumphrey's lawsuit, which was moved to federal court.

Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter@MeghinDelaney.

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