What a lawyer calls the most potentially damaging allegation against a school district superintendent facing “termination for cause” charges is no longer on the table.
The 13th and final charge alleged that Les Lindauer, who was suspended May 24 as superintendent of Cripple Creek-Victor School District RE-1, had a pornographic website bookmarked under “favorites” on his work computer.
The legal counsel for the five-member school board has withdrawn the charge, said Denver attorney Charles Nicholas, who with Boulder attorney Alex Halpern is representing Lindauer.
“The one that probably would be termination for just cause was withdrawn by their legal counsel, in response to our request for documents that would have exonerated Mr. Lindauer and demonstrated that he did nothing wrong,” Nicholas said.
Kelly Dude, the attorney representing the school board, said Lindauer’s legal team late last week requested copies of emails on the issue.
“Rather than argue about whether we were required to produced attorney-client privileged communications, we had such other strong allegations, I didn’t think it was worthwhile spending a lot of time or money worrying about that,” Dude said. “We feel very confident in the other charges.”
An administrative hearing in front of a retired judge on the 12 remaining charges starts Wednesday in Colorado Springs.
The judge has up to 20 days to issue a decision to the school board, which will have the final say on whether Lindauer will be reinstated, fired with cause or simply terminated.
Firing Lindauer for cause would affect the buyout of his $108,000 annual contract, which has two years remaining.
The board is accusing Lindauer of violating school district policies by intimidating and threatening board members with accusations of election fraud, verbally attacking staff and parents, improperly hiring employees and giving raises, lying about his whereabouts and committing other infractions.
Lindauer told The Gazette in June that local police were investigating a parent volunteer who ran the porn site, and he had looked at and marked the site on his computer to show law enforcement and other key officials.
“The school board, the police, myself and the district lawyer were made aware of it,” Lindauer said, adding that he opened the site in view of others who were examining it as well.
Monday, Nichols said the withdrawal of that charge “really indicates what they’re trying to do and what this whole thing is about: to ruin Mr. Lindauer’s reputation in the community.”
Saying he wasn’t going to litigate the case in the newspaper, Dude said the pornography charge “wasn’t worth spending a lot of time or effort fighting it,” given the remaining charges.
The charges claim Lindauer acted unilaterally in making personnel decisions, was confrontational with the board in public and private discussions, and violated the confidentiality of closed executive session meetings, among other complaints.
Lindauer contends none of the complaints is legitimate, and he’s being scapegoated by a renegade school board, which also ousted its previous superintendent.
Lindauer was suspended with pay in May, but in August, the board placed him on leave without pay, pending the outcome of the hearing that Lindauer requested to respond to the allegations.
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