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News

Lawsuit over masks ends with amicable settlement

One-time sum of $90,000 will be paid by Douglas County to School District for hiring of a Psychological Safety Coordinator.

Posted on June 14, 2022 2022Breaking News

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A 2021 lawsuit against the Douglas County Board of Health by the Douglas County School District over the Board of Health’s mask exemption rule has been amicably settled, with the parties agreeing to bear their own attorney fees and costs – and instead provide a new resource to the School District.

To avoid the cost and time of further litigation, both parties have agreed to a settlement that will result in the one-time payment by Douglas County of $90,000 to the School District for the hiring of a Psychological Safety Coordinator.

This newly created position will provide coordination, leadership, and facilitation of all components of District safety assessments and services, including mandatory child abuse reporting, suicide assessments, threat assessments, and crisis team response.

“We are unified in our focus on what’s best for the communities we collectively serve,” said Doug Benevento, President, Douglas County Board of Health. “We look forward to our continued relationship with our School District and our mutually beneficial support for mental and behavioral health among our community’s youth,” Benevento said.

“A strong partnership between the Douglas County School District and the county leadership is critical to fulfilling our collective promise to serve the community in the most effective and efficient means possible,” said Mike Peterson, President, Douglas County School District Board of Education. “The psychological safety of our students and staff directly benefits physical safety, educational growth, and the positive culture the entire Board of Education, staff, and teachers are dedicated to providing for the District.”

“Let this serve as an example of what can happen when Douglas County leaders step back and focus on what matters most – the health and safety of our children,” said County Commissioner Board Chair Abe Laydon on behalf of the Board of County Commissioners.

“This additional investment in mental and behavioral health for our youth is consistent with our Board’s objectives for our Mental Health Initiative and Youth Community Response Team and when we awarded $10 million for Supportive Mental Health for Students and Physical School Safety and Protection following the tragic STEM School Shooting on May 7, 2019,” Laydon said.

In January 2020, Douglas County’s only School District and its nearly 70,000 students received a $10 million commitment from the Board of Douglas County Commissioners to support school safety and mental health for students through the Board’s approval of a $6.8 million Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with the District.

Specifically, the 2020 IGA awarded $6 million for physical security improvements and $823,000 for student mental health resources, in support of the district’s strategic plan for its 91 neighborhood and charter schools.

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