By EDDIE CELAYA
Former chemistry instructor David Katz has been awarded nearly $150,000 after a judge ruled his due process was violated by Pima Community College and high-level administrators.
A settlement agreement lays out legal guidelines for both sides to follow and con- stitutes the “full settlement and discharge of all claims.”
Katz, who was fired by the college in2013, was awarded $149,815. The settle- ment includes $100,000 as compensation for damages suffered and $49,815 for lost wages.
Administrators named in the suit include Chancellor Lee Lambert, former West Campus President Louis Albert and former department chair Mary Kay Gilliland.
The Arizona School Risk Retention Trust will pay the reward on behalf of the defen-dants. The ASRRT, a nonprofit located inPhoenix, provides insurance to community colleges during litigation.
The chain of events remains in dispute.
During court proceedings, PCC repre- sentatives contended discipline began in 2011.
Katz and his attorneys believe those talks to be irrelevant.
Pima spokeswoman Libby Howell said the settlement was not an admission of guilt.
“Note that this agreement does not con- stitute an admission of wrongdoing on Pima’s part or by any of the individuals named as defendants,” she said.
The settlement agreement uses simi- lar language: “Nothing contained in this
agreement shall be construed as an admis- sion by defendants that they have violated any statute, law or regulation.”
Howell said both sides “often settle cas- es to avoid the expense and uncertainty of continued litigation.”
The settlement outlines additional stipu- lations. For example, each side is respon- sible for its own attorney’s fees.
The document also details a nondispar-agement agreement that makes it difficultfor either side to say much: “The parties agree that they will not make disparaging, denigrating or defamatory comments or statements to any third party.”
The agreement resembles a gag order,noting, “The parties specifically agree thatthey will not comment on the allegations contained in the lawsuit.”
Katz believes the ruling will positively
affect current PCC instructors. In an inter- view conducted before the settlement, he offered a few suggestions to help with of-ficial discipline from the school:
“For any complaint procedure/meeting, bring a representative from your represen- tative group,” he said. “If a representative is not available, reschedule the meeting.”
Katz also reminded instructors that due process is their right as a public employee. “You have a right to be provided with a copy of the complaint,” he said. “That must be a written, detailed description of the complaint with appropriate documenta-
tion including names, time and date.” Katz expects to remain in education. “Currently, I’m looking for another
teaching position to continue my research on integrating lecture and lab for the gen- eral chemistry course,” he said.