Musser Files Lawsuit Against SJSD

Published 05/13 2014 03:15PM

Updated 05/13 2014 11:34PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) St. Joseph School District Chief Financial Officer, Beau Musser, has filed a civil lawsuit against the school district.

The employment discrimination suit was filed Tuesday and names the St. Joseph School District, Superintendent Fred Czerwonka, Human Resources Director Doug Flowers and St. Joseph School Board member Dennis Snethen as defendants.

The complaint, which includes three counts, outlines the actions Musser says led to his suspension from the St. Joseph School District in March.

Count I, against the St. Joseph School District, claims retaliation for whistleblowing and wrongful termination. Count II accuses Czerwonka, Flowers and Snethen of slander and defamation. Count III accuses the St. Joseph School District of breach of contract.

Musser alleges that it all began on his second day of work last year when he received a copy of the district's internal audit report. According to court documents, Musser pointed out discrepancies in spending for fuel, consultants and salary increases for close friends and family members of Czerwonka and Flowers.

Musser stated that he reached out to Flowers to address the "improper and illegal salary increases" with the Board in August of 2013, but nothing had been done by mid-September. The salary increases and stipends totaled more than $375,000 annually and had not been approved by the board, according to court documents.

The complaint alleges that Flowers indicated Czerwonka made the decision to issue the salary increases and that Flowers asked Musser "who is going to catch it?"

Musser claims that he made a final attempt to address the issues in January of 2014 before contacting the district's legal counsel and eventually Czerwonka. The complaint alleges Musser tried to get Czerwonka to disclose the salary increases to the Board.

In March, board member Chris Danford addressed the salary increases during a board meeting.

Later that month, Musser was placed on paid administrative leave. The complaint states that the decision was "due to multiple allegations of sexual harassment." However, Musser stated that he was not provided any documentation to support that claim.

Musser said Czerwonka approached him on March 28 of 2014 with a separation offer which included payment for the remainder of Musser's contract term and dropping the allegation of sexual harassment in exchange for his resignation.

In April, Musser claims the allegations of sexual harassment "morphed into allegations of 'creating a hostile work environment.'" Musser says that still after not getting any specifics of the allegations, Czerwonka, Flowers and Snethen falsely told members of the board, employees of the district and members of the community that Musser committed acts constituting sexual harassment.

The lawsuit then says Musser's contract was not renewed for the upcoming school year.

Musser claims his character and reputation were attacked for blowing the whistle and that Czerwonka and Flowers were "plotting to destroy" his name and livelihood.

The suit seeks compensation for any lost income, damage to his employment and reputation, expenses of relocation and job search, embarrassment and humiliation, emotional distress and anxiety and cost of litigation.

KQ2 talked with Musser's attorney, Michael Williams late this afternoon. Williams says that above everything else, Musser would like his job back.

"Beau wants his job back and going back to doing what CFO does: protect citizens from money waste and abuse," Williams said. "Beau has been hurt by this entire process. He thought he was doing his job, and all of the sudden he was suspended. This has all been very hard on him and his family."

The attorney representing the St. Joseph School District, Tom Mickes, said the complaint "represents Mr. Musser's version of what he believes transpired."

Mickes said the public has only heard one version of the story and they will soon hear the rest of the story.

"We're very very confident that when this reaches conclusion, the district and individuals that are named will be vindicated and found they took the correct steps," said Mickes.

The district's insurance company is paying for Mickes' services. Mickes said he was selected to represent the district by the insurance company. His office is planning to file a response to the complaint in the next four to five weeks.

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