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IDEA settles with former CEO

IDEA Public Schools settled last month a lawsuit with previous CEO and cofounder JoAnn Gama.

Gama, who replaced Tom Torkelson as CEO in 2020 after criticism over exorbitant district spending on things like San Antonio Spurs tickets, a boutique hotel and a private jet, found herself out of the district the next year after what the district says was a review of misuse of resources and funds.

In 2022 Gama sued, claiming that her usage of resources met the organization’s approval standards and she never received criticism for it.

She claimed the district was discriminating against her, using her as a “scapegoat” for scandals that occurred during Torkelson’s tenure.

Gama wanted punitive and compensatory damages.

IDEA denied the claims.

The district and Gama fought each other in federal court for over a year.

At times, the legal battle dredged up even more evidence of salacious spending than the public was previously aware of.

A court filing on January 26 indicated that the district and its former leader have finally settled. It requires both parties to file appropriate dismissal documents by March. It’s not clear what that settlement entails.

Asked about the settlement, the district refrained from discussing specific terms.

“IDEA Public Schools and former CEO and Superintendent JoAnn Gama have mutually agreed to resolve and settle the ongoing litigation between both parties,” IDEA said in a statement. “This decision, with the direction and assistance of our insurance carrier, allows IDEA’s leadership staff and resources to continue to focus on the advancement of our schools and students… In this next chapter, IDEA remains committed to integrity and dedicated to ensuring every child can succeed in college and life.”

Gama’s attorney couldn’t be reached for comment.

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