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Education

Cleveland Dispute Spawns Lawsuits

By Janet Kolodzy & Special To Education Week — January 29, 1986 1 min read

The Cleveland Board of Education and Alfred D. Tutela, the administrator who ran the school district following the Jan. 26, 1985, suicide of former Superintendent of Schools Frederick D. Holliday, have sued each other over whether Mr. Tutela can continue working for the school system.

Campaign of ‘Harassment’

Mr. Tutela’s contract as interim superintendent guaranteed him his old job as a special assistant to the superintendent when the school board chose someone else to run the district. Mr. Tutela was interim superintendent from Feb. 5 to Sept. 23, when Ronald A. Boyd, former deputy superintendent in Compton, Calif., became Cleveland’s new superintendent.

Mr. Tutela has charged that Mr. Boyd and the board subsequently embarked on a campaign of ''harassment, coercion, and extortion” to get him to resign or to violate the federal- court desegregation orders under which the district operates.

On Dec. 13, the board filed suit in county court to terminate his contract.

The board’s stated reason for wanting to break the contract it authorized last February and again in May is that it erred in giving Mr. Tutela that contract. The board’s lawsuit alleges that the board president exceeded his authority in negotiating the contract, that proper financial certification was missing, and that the contract exceeded the five-year maximum length for such contracts in Ohio.

Threatened To Sue

But some board members said the real reason for the suit against Mr. Tutela is that he sought either a $3- million buy-out of his contract or appointment to the deputy superintendency. They claimed he threatened to sue the board if his demands were not met, so the board sued him first.

Mr. Tutela then countersued, claiming that the board and Mr. Boyd violated his civil rights.

His lawsuit alleges that the board fraudulently induced him to be interim superintendent with no intention of keeping him employed once a new superintendent was hired.

Mr. Tutela, who came to Cleveland from Boston in 1978 as part of a team to implement the district’s desegregation policy, contends the board dislikes his pro-desegregation stance and does not want him around because it does not want to implement the court’s desegregation orders fully.

Mr. Tutela’s case is now before U.S. District Judge Frank J. Battisti, who is overseeing the district’s desegregation plan.

A version of this article appeared in the January 29, 1986 edition of Education Week

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