Ryan Hagen, Staff Writer
Posted: 04/27/2012 06:01:18 PM PDT

SAN BERNARDINO – Scratch another $300,000 from the school district budget.

Following its earlier ruling that former Personnel Director Abe Flory was wrongfully terminated and should be given more than $550,000 in back pay and interest, the Personnel Commission decided Wednesday that the San Bernardino City Unified School District must pay Flory’s legal costs – more than $250,000 in attorney fees and nearly $13,000 in court reporter fees.

The independent panel, which is tasked with ensuring the district follows the merit system, also extended his back pay from February – when a hearing officer recommended giving him back his roughly $120,000-per-year job more than four years after he was fired and calculated how much he’d accrued during that time – to his first day on the job.

Flory is expected to start May 1.

But district officials, who have long disagreed with the commission over the extent of its powers, were at a conference Thursday and Friday and did not say whether they would challenge the decision.

Flory said he looked forward to starting soon and pushing for a stronger merit system.

“This is a victory for me, but also for classified workers and the merit system,” said Flory, who was fired after 29 alleged acts that district officials described as insubordination, dishonesty and unwillingness to perform his job but Flory characterized as whistle-blowing.

The district had resisted paying Flory’s attorney fees, which covered a team of four lawyers earning up to $425 an hour. By contrast, the district’s lawyers charged $185 an hour, but billed more than three times as many hours, for a total charge just under $400,000.

A lot of good money was wasted on the case, said commission Chairman Gino Barabani.

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