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Aponik, district reach settlement

Molly Shore

Former Supt. David Aponik has agreed to drop his lawsuit against the

Burbank Unified School District in exchange for a $56,250 payment,

according to a settlement approved by the school board.


The agreement, voted on by board members during a closed-session

meeting, “fully and finally settles all claims and disputes in the

lawsuit brought against the Burbank Unified School District by Dr.

Aponik, and there shall be no appeal or new lawsuit regarding such


claims and disputes,” a district-issued statement read.

“It’s a mutual settlement,” Board President Trish Burnett said

Tuesday. “I’m just happy we can put this behind us and move on.”

Board member Connie Lackey declined to discuss the settlement

agreement, saying it speaks for itself.

“I’m just glad to have the issue resolved,” she said.

The school board voted in March 2002 to terminate the contract of

Aponik, and reassigned him to his former position of school


psychologist, a move that upset many community members. After

mediation efforts failed, Aponik filed a civil lawsuit against the

district in September, alleging wrongful termination and breach of


The board acted quickly to remove Aponik after it was learned that

$1.3 million in special-education expenses had not been budgeted by a

previous fiscal management team. That amount, along with state budget

cuts and increased expenses, meant the district had to cut its budget


by almost $2 million.

Since being relieved of his duties, Aponik has served as a

district psychologist. He declined to comment on the settlement, but

said he is considering a position in another school district.

Aponik’s attorney, Brian Cooper, did not return phone calls

seeking comment, but Aponik’s former attorney, Eric Bathen, said the

settlement was favorable to his former client.

Aponik was considered a popular superintendent, and his removal

did not sit well with parents and teachers, who criticized school

board members for voting him out. After Aponik was dismissed,

community members launched an effort to recall all five school board

members, saying it was wrong for them to terminate Aponik.

The group eventually dropped the recall movement, but school board

members Elena Hubbell, Mike McDonald and Richard Raad were

unsuccessful in their bids for reelection.

The board reached the settlement agreement June 24.