MCPS reaches $300K settlement in lawsuit against former principal

A lawsuit against the Montgomery County Board of Education and a now former middle school principal has been settled, the plaintiff’s attorney confirmed to FOX 5.

Jerry Hyatt, a Rockville-based attorney, represented "Jane Doe" in the lawsuit against the county public schools’ board of education and Joel Beidleman, the former principal at Farquhar Middle School.

Under the terms of the settlement, Hyatt’s client would receive $300,000 in exchange for a release for all claims against the defendants.

The lawsuit was filed in October 2023.

"This is a case that’s a little bit different than any other case I’ve ever had because everything was well reported in the media. A lot of times, I would sit back and click on social media to figure out what occurred because I was having a hard time keeping up with all of the investigations that were going on," Hyatt said Monday. "What has been reported first by the Washington Post and then by Jackson Lewis and Office of the Inspector General is that Dr. Beidleman harassed and abused my client when he was her supervisor as a principal at Farquhar."

The 20-page lawsuit states Jane Doe was a victim of discrimination and underwent years of "severe and pervasive incidents of quid pro quo sexual discrimination, a hostile work environment, and acts of intimidation by Defendants".

READ MORE: MCPS releases report further detailing investigation into Joel Beidleman

Hyatt said his client continues to work within MCPS, but she has changed schools.

"She’s a school teacher, first and foremost. She wants to continue to be a school teacher. She’s really happy to put this behind her. She’s now at a school where she enjoys teaching again. She wants to continue that for the foreseeable future," he said.

Beidleman is no longer employed with MCPS, which is currently conducting a search for a new superintendent.

Hyatt said moving forward, his client wants to see MCPS implement what the Office of the Inspector General recommended in a January report nearly two weeks before Dr. Monifa McKnight parted ways with the district after being asked to resign as MCPS superintendent.

"That is to strengthen the investigatory process from DCI when teachers and staff make complaints. My client feels she did everything she was instructed to do and her complaints were ignored," he said. "Based on what the Inspector General found, there seems to be an effort to put resources towards the new DCI [Department of Compliance and Investigations], to reform the DCI, and to make the investigations actually meaningful. Hopefully, this will prevent other staff members, future staff members, from having to go through what she went through."

Christie Scott, a coordinator for the MCPS Board of Education Communications, said the board was unable to comment on the legal personnel issues such as the settled lawsuit.

Regarding the ongoing search for the next superintendent, Scott said the nationwide search is proceeding.

"The Board is reviewing qualified applicant materials and conducting interviews. To protect candidates’ right to privacy during the search process, details about individuals who have applied or are being considered for the position will not be shared," an email to FOX 5 read.

As of this writing, FOX 5 has not heard back yet from an attorney for Beidleman.