Skaneateles The Skaneateles Central School District has reached an out-of-court settlement with District III Athletics over a disagreement concerning legal fees for last year’s suspension of the Skaneateles varsity football program.
The district withdrew its lawsuit against Section III, which was scheduled for hearing in Onondaga County Supreme Court on Monday, Feb. 6, after attorneys for both parties agreed to a “discontinuance” of the suit.
“We’ve reached a settlement, a discontinuance of the article 78 has been filed. So in essence were hoping no more court appearances and everything is settled,” said District Superintendent Phil D’Angelo.
The legal battle was the final aspect of the district’s dealing with the suspension of its football team by Section III.
That suspension occurred last November after an internal district investigation concluded that then-head coach Tim Green had illegally recruited players to his team from outside the district. The district submitted its report to Section III in late October expecting an admonishment, but instead received a team suspension just as the undefeated Lakers were about to play the Section C semifinal game.
The district appealed the decision, which was temporarily stayed by a state supreme court judge. Two subsequent courts ruled against the school district and upheld the suspension, summarily ending the football season for the Lakers. In the midst of the legal wrangling, head coach Green resigned.
Under Section III bylaws, districts that fail in an appeal against a Section III decision are subject to a requirement to pay Section III’s legal fees in the matter.
The district’s recently-settled lawsuit against Section III, while technically a filing to overturn the Skaneateles football program suspension, was in fact done to fight the attempt to make the district pay Section III’s legal fees, which amounted to tens of thousands of dollars.
“They wanted us to pay the whole thing and we told them no,” said School Board President Evan Dreyfuss. “We didn’t want to go to court, but we had to keep [the legal action] going to not pay. If we had done nothing we would have had to pay.”
Neither Dreyfuss nor D’Angelo was prepared to publicly release the details of the settlement between the district and Section III because it has not been finalized.
D’Angelo said that once the paperwork is done by attorneys for both parties the settlement figures will be released.
The Skaneateles School Board of Education met on Tuesday, Feb. 14, which was after press time. Any further details or comments on the settlement stated at the meeting will be reported on our website, skaneatelespress.com.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.