News & Observer | newsobserver.com | Wake gives little in deal with punished

Published: Apr 09, 2008 12:30 AM
Modified: Apr 09, 2008 02:43 AM

Wake gives little in deal with punished

Escamilla

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RALEIGH - A former Enloe High School teacher who sued after he was punished for inviting an anti-Islamic speaker to school will not receive any money nor have his personnel record cleared as part of a tentative settlement with the Wake County school system.

Under the agreement, released by the school board Tuesday, Robert Escamilla will drop his lawsuit and any future claims against the school system provided school leaders agree he has met standards placed on him as part of a corrective action plan.

"It's advantageous for the school board," said school board attorney Ann Majestic. "It puts the issue to bed for the school system."

Escamilla was suspended in February 2007 after he invited an Egyptian-born Christian to speak at Enloe. Some parents, the ACLU and the Council on American-Islamic Relations complained that the speaker had denounced Islam.

Escamilla was reprimanded and transferred to Phillips, an alternative school. The school board also released negative parts of his personnel file to justify its decision not to grant Escamilla's request to return to Enloe.

School officials accused Escamilla of being a lax teacher. But Escamilla pointed out that before last year, he had received only positive evaluations during his 18 years at Enloe.

Escamilla sued in November alleging that his due process rights had been violated.

The agreement doesn't call for him to return to Enloe or for his personnel file to be changed. The school board agrees not to discipline him any further for last year's incident. They also agree not to disparage one another.

Billy Strickland, Escamilla's attorney, said his client accepted the deal because he thinks it increases the likelihood that he won't be fired at the end of this school year. He said Escamilla just wanted to be able to continue teaching in Raleigh.

The deal only falls through if the school district says he didn't meet teaching standards this school year required in the action plan he was assigned when transferred to Phillips.

"It just seemed to be reasonable," Escamilla said. "I'm happy with it."

keung.hui@newsobserver.com or (919) 829-4534

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