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Lawsuit against Albemarle superintendent dropped

A lawsuit alleging the Albemarle County schools superintendent defamed a former employee is no more.

A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice last week after both parties involved agreed to the dismissal. The order came after a confidential settlement conference last month. Court records include no details about the terms of a settlement or if one was reached.

The lawsuit was filed in October 2018 by Ira Socol, the former chief technology and innovation officer for the school division. Socol was fired in August 2018 for purchasing furniture in violation of the county’s purchasing and procurement policies. He has denied any wrongdoing and sued the Albemarle county School Board and schools superintendent Matthew Haas for a denial of due process, breach of contract and defamation.

The school division declined to comment on the dismissal and Socol’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.

The claims against the School Board were dismissed in June 2019 but a federal judge allowed the case against Haas to move forward. School officials initially tried to get the case thrown out, arguing that Socol’s claims were groundless and that he lacked standing to sue.

Following the June 2019 order, the lawsuit was focused on whether Socol should have had a hearing to clear his name, what Haas told other people about Socol’s conduct, why he made those statements and the effect of those statements, according to court filings.

Haas allegedly told former Superintendent Pam Moran that Socol “misused [purchasing cards] deliberately and egregiously,” according to the plaintiff’s amended complaint. Moran and Socol co-authored a book, “Timeless Learning,” in 2018 about innovative practices in public schools.

Socol’s attorney argued in court filings that the statement was defamatory.

In the last several years, the two parties disagreed over deposition orders and sought to end the lawsuit via mediation and settlement conferences. Last month, the case was referred to mediation and the settlement conference was held in late June, according to court records. On July 15, the parties filed notice that they had agreed to a dismissal with prejudice, which means Socol can’t refile his suit in another court.

Both parties are responsible for their own attorneys’ fees and costs of suit, according to the order.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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