by Dennis Reeves Cooper…….
Former Monroe County School District Financial Director Kathy Reitzel will finally get her day in court. Circuit Judge Mark Jones’ dismissal of her wrongful termination lawsuit in September 2015 has been reversed by the Third District Court of Appeal.
It was Reitzel who, in 2009, blew the whistle on former School District Adult Education Coordinator Monique Acevedo’s theft of $413,000 in school district funds during 2007-2009. Acevedo used her school district credit card to make thousands of dollars worth of personal purchases, including a satellite radio lease for her son, numerous airline tickets for her parents, a $1700 bed and the infamous “Ride Me Cowboy” adult play costume. She subsequently pled guilty and was sent to prison. Her husband, Randy Acevedo, who was Superintendent of Schools at that time, was also prosecuted and convicted of attempting to cover-up his wife’s criminal activities. He was sentenced to probation and was removed from office. Reitzel provided key testimony before two grand juries and was also a key witness for the prosecution at Randy Acevedo’s trial.
In June 2009, the School Board renewed Reitzel’s contract. However, in September 2009, she was suddenly fired. She filed a wrongful termination lawsuit in February 2010. Judge Jones threw that suit out of court in September 2015. She appealed that ruling in November 2015. The reversal of that order was announced this week, January 11, 2017 by the appeals court. This clears the way for the case to go to trial.
According to the appeals court announcement, Jones’ order was reversed because issues of material fact exist– whether Reitzel voluntarily decided to retire and whether the School Board had good cause for her termination. In her lawsuit and appeal, she argued that the School Board had no reason to fire her and that she signed retirement paperwork under duress.
Read the Court of Appeals Order below:
See more of Dennis Cooper’s reporting on Kathy Reitzel’s fight to have her day in court below: