Ex-coach fired over mishandling cash loses lawsuit against Manhattan School District

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BOZEMAN, Montana — A Gallatin County judge has thrown out a lawsuit by a former football coach who was fired by the Manhattan School District after an investigation found he mishandled thousands of fundraising dollars.

Former Manhattan High School coach Dale McQueary and his wife, Chris, accused the school district of deceit, breach of contract and other charges in the lawsuit filed after school district officials publicly released the 2013 investigative report.

The Montana School Board Association report said McQueary failed to deposit $8,400 from players selling discount cards from 2011-2013 and that he spent money on equipment and meals without approval. A separate audit by a Bozeman accounting firm put the amount of money McQueary withheld at more than $22,000.

District officials gave McQueary the investigative report and told him he would have time to respond before the document was finalized, the former coach said in his lawsuit.

However, the school district released the report to the public before receiving a written response, according to the lawsuit.

District Judge Mike Salvagni ruled for the school district last week, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported (http://bit.ly/1JwH6Wz ).

The McQuearys had an opportunity to rebut the allegations and the school district had no legal obligation to give them any additional response time, the judge said.

The school district was right to fire McQueary, Salvagni added.

"No reasonable person would conclude that McQueary believed it was proper procedure to withhold cash from a fundraiser, store that cash in a drawer and falsify a report to make it match a partial deposit," the judge wrote.


Information from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com

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