Fla. school board pays $20,000 in settlement to newspaper adviser who was fired

FLORIDA — A former high school newspaper adviser whoalleged his teaching contract was not renewed because the paper publishedcontroversial content has reached an out-of-court settlement with the Palm BeachCounty school district.Toby Eichas, a former Boca Raton High Schoolteacher, was awarded $20,000, which school board members unanimously approvedwithout discussion on May 19. The agreement did not include any admission ofguilt by the school district, Eichas said.“He was in this for thevindication, and he felt vindicated,” said Charles Wender, Eichas’attorney. “He is very proud of what he did.”Eichas filed thelawsuit, originally seeking $60,000, in 1999 after his teaching contract was notrenewed amid a school year of disputes with the school’s administrationabout The Predator. After a column was published containingJewish stereotypes and another with sexual innuendoes, Principal Diana Harristold Eichas she wanted prior review of the publication. Eichas said ThePredator’s student editor then resigned in protest of the priorreview.The school district has said his contract was not up for renewalbecause of Eichas’ poor planning, failure to work well with others andfailure to attend mandatory training sessions. The district had requested thesuit be dropped because they argued Eichas’s First Amendment rights werenot being threatened.School district officials did not respond to requests for comment.Eichas is now teaching English in the BrowardCounty school district. He is not involved with any student publications, but hesaid he is not ruling it out. “He did it as a matter of principle,and he prevailed on principle,” Wender said.

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