The DeKalb County School District freed itself of another major distraction, with a decision to settle a long-running lawsuit that cost millions of dollars and contributed to financial and political instability.
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Timeline of Heery International, Inc.’s dispute with the DeKalb County School District
- October 2004: Crawford Lewis becomes school superintendent and later hires Pat Reid (her surname was then Pope) to oversee Heery International Inc. and E.R. Mitchell & Co., which jointly manage school construction projects.
- April 2006: Heery and Mitchell are suspended over allegations of mismanagement and billing fraud, then fired 10 months later.
- February 2007: Heery/Mitchell sue for $478,000 and damages.
- March 2007: DeKalb countersues for $17 million, eventually seeking more than $100 million.
- December 2008: Lewis tells school lawyers that Reid tried to blackmail him, recommended firing Heery/Mitchell and wanted to hire her friends to work on school construction projects.
- July 2009: DeKalb’s law firm, King & Spalding, agrees to work on contingency, retroactive to June 1, 2008. It already had been paid $6.5 million.
- May 2010: Lewis, Reid, her husband Tony Pope, and Reid’s assistant are indicted. (The assistant is later dismissed from the case.) Lewis had been fired a month earlier.
- October 2010: Heery/Mitchell file a second amended complaint, claiming criminal fraud drove their termination.
- June 2012: School board approves cashless settlement with E.R. Mitchell & Co.
- April 2, 2013: DeKalb “special master” Judge Stanley Birch dismisses the bulk of Heery’s financial claims, throwing out the company’s contention that it was terminated because of a fraud conspiracy by district officials.
- June 10, 2013: DeKalb school board approves amended contract with its law firm, King & Spalding. The firm waives $30 million in fees and agrees to pay ongoing case expenses, which had already cost DeKalb $12 million.
- Oct. 16: Lewis pleads guilty to a misdemeanor obstruction charge and agrees to testify for the prosecution against Reid and Pope.
- Nov. 20: A DeKalb jury convicts Reid and Pope of racketeering and theft.
- Dec. 2: Superintendent Michael Thurmond announces settlement agreement with Heery.
Sources: Court pleadings, indictment, contract between DeKalb and King & Spalding, Atlanta Journal-Constitution.