Adviser gets $130,000 in settlement with college

KANSAS -- After a process that she described as, ''David going up against Goliath,'' Jennifer Schartz has decided to settle the lawsuit she brought against her former employer, Barton County Community College.

In an Aug. 4 decision, Schartz said she decided to drop her lawsuit, receiving a $130,000 settlement.

''I know the college didn't necessarily admit its guilt, but the size of the settlement proves this was not a trivial lawsuit,'' Schartz said. ''I just hope that through this costly process some important lessons have been learned by BCCC.''

Schartz filed the lawsuit in 2004 after her contract as adviser to the Interrobang, a student newspaper at the community college, was not renewed. Schartz suspected the decision was made after the paper published a letter to the editor criticizing the school's basketball coach, which the school called ''a personal attack.''

As part of the relief sought in the lawsuit, Schartz wanted to be reinstated as adviser, which was not part of the settlement.

''I had continued to say that I wanted my job back, but in reality there was already someone in that position and I didn't want the same thing done to them that was done to me, which was to be let go unfairly,'' Schartz said.

Allen Glendenning, the attorney representing the community college, said he was not authorized to share any details of the settlement, but added ''Ms. Schartz lowered her demands to the point that it was more economically feasible to conclude the case than to incur the cost of continued litigation just to prove a point.''

Schartz said she hopes to put the situation behind her and is happy that ''this sad chapter is finally over for the college.''

She said she will continue her work as a county commissioner and substitute teacher and will be speaking at an upcoming College Media Advisers conference in October.

''I continue to feel it was important to stand up for myself on the issue of censorship and to set an example for students and others that the First Amendment is something worth fighting for,'' she said. ''Even though we settled the case instead of going to trial, I believe the settlement is a clear vindication of the principles for which I was fighting.''

Barton County Community College, Interrobang, Kansas, news