| By Billy Davis
The May removal of North Panola School District principal Vivian Burkley is moving toward a $40,000 settlement with the district.
Burkley could receive $40,000 from the public school district and effectively clear her name if the school board approves the settlement at a meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Attorneys representing Burkley announced the settlement Friday afternoon after day-long negotiations with school board attorney Alix Sanders and Superintendent Robert Massey.
Burkley is represented by Leigh Ann Darby, John Keith Perry and Leon Johnson.
The school board voted 3-2 Friday to settle with Burkley when polled by Sanders, one of the attorneys representing the former principal said.
Burkley was removed from her job amid allegations from Massey and the school board of misappropriation of school funds. She served as principal at Green Hill Elementary School.
In the Release and Settlement Agreement hashed out Friday by attorneys, however, the school board would withdraw its dismissal and allegations against Burkley if she submits her resignation to the board.
The school board is further instructed that, if it is contacted by potential employers, it will state that Burkley "resigned for personal reasons and was in good standing" at the time of her resignation.
The Agreement also dismisses an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint filed by Burkley against the school district.
Reached by The Panolian, Sanders said he was disappointed that attorneys for Burkley had "run to the newspaper" with the settlement agreement, cautioning that the settlement is not complete until approved Wednesday by school board members.
Asked about the $40,000 settlement, Sanders said it was a "victory" for the school district since Burkley’s salary is in the $60,000 range and it saves the district from possible court costs.
Beginning about 9:30 Friday morning, Burkley’s attorneys met with Sanders and Massey at the school district office throughout the day, breaking only for an hour-long lunch.
The negotiation negated a planned public hearing scheduled for 9 a.m. at the North Panola High School library.
A crowd of about 15 Burkley supporters and a group of about 20 concerned taxpayers had gathered in the library in anticipation of the hearing.