SCHENECTADY — Former Schenectady Superintendent Laurence Spring has filed a notice of claim against the Schenectady City School District, alleging he was wrongfully coerced into resigning last year and requesting $7.8 million in damages.
Spring, who resigned as superintendent of the district a year ago this month, in the notice of claim accuses the district of using allegations of sexual harassment against Spring to force him out as superintendent without proper due process. The claim alleges that a lawyer representing the school board threatened to publicize the sexual harassment allegations, which Spring insisted were false, and refused to hear Spring’s response to the allegations. Spring agreed to resign and sign a confidential separation agreement, but argues the district violated the agreement after the Albany Times Union reported in May that Spring faced an internal investigation over sexual harassment allegations ahead of his resignation.
“When faced with the threat of termination, the possible disclosure of the scurrilous and false allegations to the media and loss of income in a public setting without the opportunity to contest the allegations, [Spring] entered a separation agreement with the district whereby [Spring] would resign employment with a confidentiality clause included in the agreement,” according to the notice of claim.
Spring and his attorney, Latham-based Kevin Luibrand, claim that a lawyer representing the school board refused to accept a letter from Spring explaining how his cellphone had been hacked and denying the sexual harassment allegations. After postponing a March 17 meeting between Spring and the district’s attorney, Spring said the attorney told him: “The district did not want to hear anything [Spring] had to say or read anything [Spring] had prepared as a response, as it would only be designed to create sympathy for [Spring],” according to the notice of claim. The district lawyer allegedly told Spring if he did not agree to resign the board would suspend him publicly and that Spring would “not work in education again.”
The notice asserts Spring agreed to resign under the non-disclosure agreement to “protect his reputation and secure new and additional employment as opposed to facing the loss of any possibility of working in education again.” But Spring and his attorney argue the district violated the terms of that agreement when confidential information was publicized in the news media.
“By and as a result of the release of the information and breach of the agreement, claimant was damaged as a result of the false and defamatory statement by (the district employee alleging Spring had sexually harassed them),” the notice of claim states.
A notice of claim is a precursor to a formal legal complaint against government entities. Spring and his attorney still have time to file an actual lawsuit against the district, but in the notice Spring said he was seeking a total of $7.8 million in damages from the school district.
Neither Spring’s attorney or a district spokesperson would comment on the legal filing Friday.
Spring’s retirement, which came just a few weeks after the district and schools across the state abruptly shifted to all-remote education in the midst of the pandemic, was shrouded in mystery as both he and the Schenectady school board refused to answer questions about his departure. The school board accepted Spring’s resignation at its March 25 board meeting and the following day released an exit agreement the board approved that included a nondisclosure clause barring board members from making “any statement to any person or entity, whether oral or written, that disparages Mr. Spring.” The agreement also barred potential legal claims Spring may have brought against the district, but in the notice of claim Spring argues the district breached that agreement.
At the time of his departure, Spring earned a base salary of just over $205,000, up from $181,200 when he joined the district in 2012, an over 13 percent increase spread over multiple raises during his tenure.