The Raytown School District board quietly approved an out-of-court settlement of a lawsuit filed by former Raytown South boys basketball coach Brad Oestreich. Though the financial terms were undisclosed, a source says the settlement didn’t involve any punitive damages. The case was scheduled to go to trial next week.
Before regularly scheduled meeting on Oct. 9, the board met behind closed doors to discuss “legal action, causes of action or litigation.” The case dismissal was officially posted on Oct. 31.
Oestreich’s suit was the third filed by an ex-basketball coach at Raytown South High School in the last 15 years. All three — by Jevon Crudup, Phil Morgan and Oestreich — were for wrongful termination and racial discrimination. Oestreich is white.
In the Crudup case, the district was hit with $250,000 in punitive damages by the court after he won his lawsuit. But Crudup was outspoken earlier this year about the district’s inaction at Raytown South after the most recent suit filed by Oestreich, who was relieved of his coaching duties in 2015.
In an emailed reaction to the settlement with Oestreich, Crudup says, “At the end of the day, it still does not solve the problem at Raytown South. Everybody knows, including them (the Raytown school board) who the real problem is.”
David Lunceford, Oestreich’s attorney, said last March that the suit was based on Oestreich being fired for standing up for the black kids on his team when they were singled out by Raytown South principal Dr. Kevin Overfelt.
When asked on Oct. 9 about the pattern of lawsuits, with their overtones of racial discrimination implications between Raytown South principal Dr. Kevin Overfelt and the boys basketball teams at the high school, Raytown Supt. Allan Markley said, “You could probably go to any school district and find issues whether it’d be boys basketball, girls basketball, track. Who knows? We live in a litigious society. That seems to more par for the course than anything.”
When pressed further about the presence of strained relationships between the Raytown South administration and the boys basketball team because of race, Dr. Markley responded, “No, I don’t see anything like that.”
Dr. Markley described the climate in the Raytown school district this way: “I find the climate wonderful enough that I send my three sons to our school buildings. I’m proud that they attend our schools and that’s all I’ll say.”
Oestreich no longer coaches basketball or works in the Raytown school district. This fall he was on the football sidelines as a part-time gridiron coach at Lee’s Summit West High School. He also holds a full-time job in pharmaceutical sales.
Greg Echlin is a freelance sports reporter for KCUR 89.3.