Jeffrey Leardini Is Back in the News
You may have read some of the coverage of Jeffrey Leardini, the former teacher to whom a jury recently awarded $1.1 million plus reimbursement for legal fees in his lawsuit against Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Leardini resigned from CMS six years ago after a CMS official confronted him on allegations of "improper touching" made by a few of his students. Leardini has maintained his innocence, that he felt coerced into resigning, and that the incident ruined his teaching career. (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police investigated the allegations and filed charges, but Leardini was acquitted.)
In the December 2006 issue, we ran a story on Leardini and his case. These lines, appearing early in the story, offer a good summary.
"Committed to teaching, recently married, and frequently singled out for praise by administrators, students, and parents during his eight-year career, Leardini found himself suddenly caught up in a Kafkaesque spiral triggered by the accusations of twelve-year-old children."
But really, if you want to know the background behind the case, the entire story is worth reading. Written by Ted Reed, I don't recall any other media outlet publishing as detailed of an account. It's a balanced look at a difficult subject. And it got me to thinking about the value of magazine stories. We have the space to go in depth and the ability to call it like we see it. All of the other coverage of Leardini, that I can recall, was of the episodic variety–one news bit at a time. Only a magazine can connect the dots and lay it all out for the reader.