A legal dispute between Tracy Wrend, superintendent of Lamoille South Supervisory Union, and David Bain, a former employee, is scheduled for a jury in September.
Jury draw begins Sept. 9; the trial will begin Sept. 13, according to court filings.
Lamoille South oversees schools in Elmore, Morristown and Stowe. David Bain was a business and technology teacher at Peoples Academy in Morrisville for 25 years until he was fired in 2014.
Bain sued Wrend for wrongful termination in 2015, alleging she fired him because he criticized her work as superintendent. He also alleges age and gender discrimination and intentional emotional distress.
Wrend has denied all of Bain’s allegations.
In November, U.S. District Court Judge Geoffrey Crawford threw out the last two allegations, but whether Wrend violated Bain’s First Amendment rights to freedom of speech by firing him is up to the jury.
“We do not believe that there is any evidence to support that contention. Tracy did not know of the statements Mr. Bain claims to have made. She was not even aware of the alleged union meeting,” said Pietro Lynn, the Burlington attorney representing Wrend.
Wrend was promoted to superintendent in 2007, with a mentor for one year to help her learn the job. Wrend had been the supervisory union’s director of student services.
In his lawsuit, Bain alleges he was fired at least in part because of his attempts to get the teachers union executive committee to vote “no confidence” in Wrend’s job performance, and because of his criticisms of her leadership.
During the spring and summer of 2014, according to court documents, Bain was accused of “grooming” a female student who was friends with his daughter, and misused a school camera to take soccer photos.
According to Judge Crawford, the grooming incident took place, but he’s unsure if Bain would have been disciplined had he not been a vocal critic of Wrend’s.
“Obviously we’re very happy that the case is going to trial, and it has been going on for multiple years now. Mr. Bain is excited for his day in court,” said Chandler Matson, the Stowe-based attorney representing Bain.
“David Bain was a lifelong, dedicated teacher. He lost his job, he has never worked as an educator again, and he is incredibly grateful that he will finally be able to present his side of the story to a jury of his peers. The facts of this case speak for themselves — Mr. Bain was wronged, plain and simple, and we are confident that the trial system will make that clear once and for all.”