Larry DiChiara has sued the Phenix City Board of Education, which voted last month to buy out his superintendent's contract.
The complaint, filed in Russell County Circuit Court, seeks an immediate temporary restraining order, injunctive relief, declaratory judgment for breach of contract and unspecified damages.
DiChiara's lawyer, J. Knox Argo of Montgomery, Ala., electronically sent the lawsuit on Christmas Eve.
DiChiara went from being named Alabama Superintendent of the Year two years ago to being ousted Nov. 26, when the seven-member board unanimously voted in a called meeting to buy out the remaining 4½ years on his contract. That move is expected to cost the school system at least $750,000, but the exact figure still isn't settled and DiChiara has predicted the issue will be decided in court.
The board and DiChiara have declined to publicly discuss the separation in detail, citing a clause in the pending buyout that prohibits disparaging each other. But as the Ledger-Enquirer reported Sunday, an open records request revealed DiChiara accused the board of misconduct in an unsent letter addressed to the state superintendent this summer.
Pressuring the administration to hire a family member, interfering with personnel decisions and breaching confidentiality are among the allegations DiChiara made. But he agreed to not send the letter when the board agreed to mediation conducted by the Alabama School Boards Association. Two mediation sessions lasting more than two hours each this fall failed to ease the discord.
Click on this story throughout the day for reaction and more details about the lawsuit.