Huntsville City School Board to settle lawsuit with Pinnacle Behavioral Health

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The Huntsville City School Board voted at its meeting tonight to settle a lawsuit with Pinnacle Behavioral Health over a contract dispute. The board has been in mediation with Pinnacle over the issue.

The lawsuit, filed in October, alleged Huntsville City Schools needed to pay more than $250,000 in unpaid invoices. The argument between the parties was over what services the school was contracted to pay for. The suit named each board member and argued the school system should not have terminated contracts it had with Pinnacle.

The Huntsville City School Board recently ended its RAISE contract with Pinnacle, severing all ties to the company. Instead, the district opted to set up its own internal alternative school called LAUNCH and will to continue its own version of various programs that Pinnacle used to have outside of their 2014 alternative school contract.

Pinnacle and the board have now reached an agreement that the board will pay Pinnacle $170,000 within the next 5 days. This means the school system an Pinnacle are no longer liable to each other.  Within 10 days of receiving the settlement funds, the court will then dismiss the lawsuit.

The board decided to approve the settlement agreement with a 4-1 vote. Pam Hill was the only dissenting vote.

“I think this is a disgrace… I am so offended that they don’t have to prove what they’ve done,” she Hill said of Pinnacle.

Consenting board member Michelle Watkins said it may not be the most favorable thing to do, but it makes good business sense.

Watkins said, “There’s no need for us to spend any additional money that we could use for instruction and our teachers.”

Attorney JR Brooks told WHNT News 19, “I think it is fair to the children of the school system.”

“I am thankful that has been settled today. We can now move forward with our LAUNCH program and helping our students,” said Interim Superintendent Tom Drake. “We went to the last hour in order to settle it.”

Drake said of the LAUNCH program, “We continue to do our evaluation of the program. We will be hiring a counselor, and possibly some other folks.”


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