Board accepts $7.5M settlement from Heery

12/6/2013, 6 a.m.

DeKalb School Board members voted on Dec. 2 to accept a $7.5 million settlement from Heery International, its former construction management firm, ending a long-running and very costly legal battle.

The School Board fired Heery in 2007, complaining about cost overruns and delays in its school construction program.

Heery sued the district for unpaid invoices. DeKalb countersued, alleging breach of contract and fraud, and the impasse continued until Superintendent Michael Thurmond negotiated with the firm out of court.

The district spent about $18 million fighting the case. Thurmond said it was time to end the dispute and not risk any more school funds.

“It’s a great day for the district,” he said after the vote. “It’s time to turn the page and move on.”

Thurmond said that based on the facts as he understood them, the settlement was a good one.

“We can recoup some of the money that has already been invested,” he said.

District 2 board member Marshall Orson says the deal makes it possible for the district to move forward.

“The superintendent took the lead in the negotiations and I think the board was in agreement with the superintendent that way too much time and too much money had been spent on this lawsuit, that we were not in the business of speculating with funds that should be used for the education of our children,” said Orson, who is also an attorney.