Lisbon could be facing a civil lawsuit for their hiring of a guidance counselor. The Louisa-Muscatine school district is threatening a lawsuit to keep their counselor, who Lisbon wants to hire.

The issue has arisen because of the teacher shortage across the State of Iowa, and Lisbon offering a contract to a school counselor for the district June 7.

Lisbon superintendent Pat Hocking noted Lisbon offered Christina Meierotto a contract for the coming school year June 7, and Meierotto informed Louisa-Muscatine she would not be returning for the next school year.

Louisa-Muscatine let Lisbon know June 29 they will not be letting Meierotto out of her contract with the district, and would be pursuing a civil suit against the Lisbon School District for hiring one of their employees who signed a contract in March.

Hocking noted that the Iowa State Education Association, the union for teachers across the state of Iowa, has noted they are in support of Lisbon in this dispute, as the union sees this as a tactic other school districts could use in the future as the state deals with the teacher shortage, holding contracts for teachers who want to move on to other opportunities.

Lisbon school board member David Prasil noted that this could become an issue for other districts moving forward, as there are shortages in teachers in science, special education subjects and counselors across Iowa at the moment.

“This is a very rare situation and is a terrible way to treat any employee,” said Jean Hessburg with the Iowa State Education Association.

Louisa-Muscatine proposed a compromise to Lisbon – a sharing agreement with Louisa-Muscatine for the counselor to serve the Louisa-Muscatine district for one day a week and the other four days a week at Lisbon.

Hocking said the district is continuing to research if the matter is covered by the district’s insurance if it does advance to a civil lawsuit.

Lisbon school board member Abbe Stensland said she was reluctant to pursue this as a civil lawsuit if the matter isn’t covered by the school’s insurance, as that would spend taxpayer dollars fighting for an employee. Stensland was also not in favor of a sharing agreement if Meierotto is not in favor of that solution; Hocking indicated she wasn’t.

Lisbon school board member Jen Caspers, who works with Lisbon Insurance, said that until the insurance company sees the charges in the civil lawsuit, they can’t answer if it is something covered by the district’s insurance or not.

The school board tabled any action on if they would pursue defending against the civil lawsuit moving forward.

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