$850,000 deal as Durant High principal departs

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The long ordeal of Durant's high school principal appears to be over. That's after an $850,000 settlement that ends Monica Rouse's career in the school district.

Rouse had been fired in 2010 after being accused of allowing students to graduate without sufficient credits. She was later reinstated after a judge found no evidence to support her firing.

Rouse will leave her principal job immediately but will be paid for the rest of the school year and for early retirement. Those fees are about evenly split between insurance and the district.

Outside Durant High School on Tuesday morning, it's a sign of the times. The message reads, "If Plan A fails, there's 25 letters left."

Whatever the option, Rouse is out as principal there for the final time.

"I would hope that everyone's consensus is it's time to move on," said Durant parent Andrea Shaffer. "If this is what it took to be done and move on, it's unfortunate, but it's time."

The settlement's release ends as Durant's school board recognizes Rouse as a dedicated and qualified school administrator.

Rouse's case took many twists and turns along the way. It polarized a community as it wound its way through the court system.

"That's Durant's issue," said longtime resident Ed Behnke. "And it's time to bury it."

As Durant businesses deal with the holiday season, there's a sense of relief.

"You're either on one side or the other," said Brad Witt, a Durant business owner. "It's bad news to have the community divided like that."

While the legal wrangling over this case finally ends, it remains a financial burden for this close-knit community of about 1,800.

Insurance will pay for about half the settlement. Durant's district must foot a $425,000 bill. Its lawyer, Rand Wonio, calls it a workable deal that satisfied both sides.

Residents like Behnke just want to get it over with.

"You've just got to absorb and forget about it and go on," he said. "Whatever the amount is, it is, and keep it settled and go on."

Closure for a community that dealt with this distraction. In addition, a costly settlement for a principal moving on from this ordeal.

"It's always a sock in the stomach to see that kind of money having to be paid out," Shaffer concluded. "It's unfortunate all the way around."

At Durant High, lessons about litigation that seem to be over with an expensive outcome.

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