Horan and GCSD pay $117K to settle suit

Timothy Horan

Enterprise file photo — Michael Koff 
Retired teacher Timothy Horan garnered more votes than the other four candidates in his bid for the school board last year, despite a federal lawsuit having been filed against him a week earlier, alleging that he did not allow a student in his classroom to seek medical attention but kept her in class all day after she broke both wrists on the playground in the morning. 

GUILDERLAND — A lawsuit brought last May in federal court against Timothy Horan — a retired teacher turned school board member — and the Guilderland School District has been settled with a payment of $117,500, court documents show.

Horan was sued the week before the school board election last May by parents Stephen and Heather Leader who said their daughter, then age 7, fell from the zipline on the Pine Bush Elementary playground. She broke both her wrists, the suit says, but was not allowed by Horan, her second-grade teacher, to go to the nurse’s office or seek any medical attention for the remainder of the school day.

Horan, who had the backing of the teachers’ union, garnered the most votes in the five-way race for three board seats.

The court documents break down the way that the award was to be distributed: A total of $41,257.52 was to go to the Leaders’ attorney, Timothy S. Brennan of Phelan, Phelan, & Danek of Guilderland, while $76,242.28 was to be placed in a college tuition savings plan, savings account, certificate of deposit, or brokerage plan, for the child, until she reaches 18 years of age.

Heather Leader said last week that she was limited in what she could say because of a confidentiality agreement, but that she and her family had decided that they wanted to move on and put the incident behind them.

Their daughter, she said, has a wonderful teacher at Pine Bush this year, and the Leaders hope that “the rest of her time there is good.”

They settled after a “long day” of mediation, Heather Leader said, because they did not want their daughter to have to keep on talking about the incident over and over.

Leader called the settlement “some measure of justice” and a “level of vindication.”

She believes that the district has begun to enforce its age-minimum policies for certain pieces of playground equipment.

“It’s pretty much back to normal” for her family now, said Leader. “And we don’t want to go back.”

The civil suit alleged that the second-grader in Horan’s class fell while using, without adequate supervision, a “slider” zipline on the playground — a piece of equipment that, according to the school’s own regulations, she was too young to use. She reported her injury to Horan, the documents say, but he “negligently, carelessly, recklessly and wantonly refused to permit the minor claimant … to go to the nurse’s office or to otherwise seek medical care for her bilateral broken wrists.”

Instead, the lawsuit alleged, she was forced to remain in classes all day, without access to medical care, pain medications, anti-inflammatory medications, resulting in increased pain and suffering as well as exacerbation of her condition.

Horan had intended to retire after 30 years in the classroom and to run for the school board. He is in his mid-fifties.

Court document show that the settlement was reached in October.

Horan did not return a phone call Friday. The attorney who represented both Horan and the district, Robert Rausch of Maynard, O’Connor, Smith & Cattalinotto in Albany, said this week that he could not comment about any aspect of any case.

The Leaders’ attorney, Timothy S. Brennan, said this week, “All I can say to you is that I can’t say anything.”

Superintendent Marie Wiles wrote in an email Friday, “There really isn’t anything I can say about the lawsuit. This matter was handled by the district’s insurance carrier. Based on the terms of the lawsuit, I am not at liberty to discuss it.”

ellglam
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I wish I had known about this before I voted for Horan in the election. I had no idea and would never have voted for him.

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