BAKER — The School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to settle a suit filed against the board by a parent who alleged a Baker Heights Elementary School librarian choked her son in 2011.
Sharonda Brooks will receive $20,000 as well as court costs, said attorney Winston DeCuir, who represented the district in the case.
The attorneys on both sides reported June 18 to state District Judge Janice Clark that the matter had been amicably resolved.
In the suit, Brooks alleged that Baker Heights librarian Maxine Gray “grabbed, pushed, choked, and shoved” her son at the school. The boy was 9 years old at the time. After a school district internal investigation, Gray was suspended for five days.
Brooks filed a complaint with Baker police and Gray was arrested in October 2011 and booked on cruelty to a juvenile.
Gray pleaded no contest in district court and was sentenced to one year probation, DeCuir said after the School Board meeting.
Gray received counseling on dealing with children and did go back to work at the school before retiring in 2013, Superintendent Ulysses Joseph said.
The suit alleged that the Baker School Board was negligent in its hiring, training and supervision of Gray and that the boy experienced a sore throat and hoarseness immediately following the incident and continues to suffer from poor academic performance, behavior problems and irritability linked to the incident.
In other business Tuesday, the board voted unanimously to award $1,500 to all full-time certified teachers and $1,000 to full-time support staff in the district.
The salary supplement will be given to the employees in two payments, the first in November and the second in April.
Board member Troy Watson expressed concern about spreading out the payments.
“This is an election year and the board may or may not change,” she said. “With all the (charter) schools popping up in the district, I’m worried we might be holding a future board to something that they might not have funding for.”
“This is money already coming from the state and that we already have on hand,” board President Dana Carpenter countered.
The superintendent said the payments are spread out so the employees “don’t run off on us.”
The money will bring the teacher pay in Baker closer in line with neighboring school districts.
“They are offered $5,000 or $6,000 more and (the teachers) leave,” Joseph said.
Advocate staff writer Joe Gyan Jr. contributed to this report.