Fuller, school district reach settlement over reprimand dispute

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Jackie Fuller coaches the Lady Bulldog volleyball team in this Pilot file photo.

Whitefish High School’s former head volleyball coach and the school district reached a settlement Tuesday regarding how the coach was disciplined earlier this year in response to an interview she did with The Daily Inter Lake.

Jackie Fuller, who is the Whitefish Middle School assistant principal, had already served a two-day suspension without pay, but will have pay reinstated for one day as a result of the settlement. She was also reprimanded for misconduct. According to an Oct. 16 letter of reprimand sent to Fuller by Whitefish Superintendent Heather Davis Schmidt, Fuller’s quotes in the Inter Lake interview were unprofessional and reportedly violated Whitefish School District policies regarding bullying, harassment, intimidation and personal conduct.

Fuller’s lawyer, Sean Frampton of Frampton Purdy Law Firm, said that as a result of the settlement, the reprimand was revised to reduce the suspension from two days to one day and to remove “any findings of bullying and harassment.” Fuller had argued that her words were not intended to bully or harass anyone but were a statement of her own personal principles. The revised reprimand will remain in Fuller’s personnel file.

“My client is pleased that this matter is resolved. It is best for the school and all people involved,” Frampton said.

Davis Schmidt told the Inter Lake she was unable to discuss personnel matters.

The case stemmed from what the district described as “public fallout” over an interview Fuller did with the Daily Inter Lake in August announcing her resignation as the head volleyball coach.

The quotes in question include: “Three individuals [seniors] who did not like my coaching style wanted me [to] compromise with them, the team and everybody else I guess,” Fuller said.

“They wanted me to be kinder, wanted me not to yell so much, talk to them one-on-one after they messed up instead of in front of the whole team. They wanted me to change as a coach, leader and a person and I can’t do that.”

The administration had said in its letter of reprimand that the statements “left the district vulnerable to liability.”

The settlement was reached the night before a special board meeting scheduled Wednesday to review the matter was canceled. Prior to the meeting cancellation, Fuller had communicated to the district of her intention to waive her right to privacy.

Typically, personnel matters are discussed in closed session; however, employees have may waive their right to privacy to keep the meeting open to the public.

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