The Portland school district has agreed to pay a former special education teacher $100,000 in exchange for dropping his wrongful termination lawsuit.

Eric Poulin, who worked in the special ed classroom at Ocean Avenue Elementary School, has agreed to a $100,000 settlement to drop his lawsuit against the district. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer, file

Eric Poulin sued the district and former Superintendent Xavier Botana in U.S. District Court in April. He claimed he was wrongly terminated for speaking out about staff shortages. He alleged the district violated the First Amendment, the Maine Human Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act and the Maine Whistleblowers Protection Act.

The settlement agreement, obtained by the Portland Press Herald through a public records request, shows the district will pay $58,500 directly to Poulin and $41,500 to Poulin’s lawyers for legal fees.

The district’s insurer will cover the payments. In turn, Poulin agreed to dismiss the lawsuit.

Both parties agreed to not discuss the settlement “other than to indicate that the lawsuit was resolved to the mutual satisfaction of both parties.”

Poulin worked in a high-needs special education classroom at Ocean Avenue Elementary School from November 2020 to Aug. 21, 2022. During that time, an employee in his classroom, Benjamin Conroy, was arrested and charged with sexual exploitation of a minor.

After Conroy’s arrest, Poulin said the program’s staffing shortages led to safety issues. Botana said at the time that Conroy ended up alone with the student because of unclear expectations.

When the district did not renew Poulin’s contract for the 2022-23 school year, he said it was because he was outspoken about staff shortages and safety and health concerns for students. The district said it did not renew because of his performance.

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