The Torrance Unified School District and the superintendent were dismissed Thursday from a lawsuit filed by opponents of a June school bond measure who claimed that the district unlawfully spent public funds on the bond campaign, district officials said.
Torrance Superior Court Judge Bob T. Hight dropped the district from the lawsuit, which also named the city and Mayor Dee Hardison, after finding that it had not paid for the election materials that opponents alleged it had, and that data the district had supplied for banners and fliers was factual, said Steve Pfahler, an attorney for the district. State law allows districts to provide information about ballot issues as long as they do not advocate a position.
Pfahler said the judge also dismissed the mayor from the lawsuit. Attorneys for the city are expected to ask for Torrance to be removed from the suit.
As part of the judgment, a group of bond opponents will be required to pay for the district's attorney fees, which are estimated at more than $10,000, Pfahler said. The $80.5-million bond measure was rejected by voters and a second attempt at passing a school bond failed earlier this month.
"We feel vindicated," said Kevin Condon, chief business officer for the school district. "The irony is that we were accused of wasting and misspending public funds. . . . They initiated a frivolous lawsuit and in the end will have to pay for it."
Rick Marshall, who filed the lawsuit, said he disagrees with the judgment and plans to file an appeal.
"We believe that if this decision is allowed to stand the district can do what ever they want," said Marshall, who was chairman of the No on A Committee. "We don't want to inhibit the district's free speech but when it comes to using taxpayer funds to support partisan efforts, that's off limits."