Centreville Following news of the school system’s settlement to Sean Lanigan, a friend and neighbor of his, as well as a former Centre Ridge colleague gave their opinions of it to Centre View.
“It took two years to finally attempt to compensate an innocent man?” asked Virginia Run friend and neighbor, Beth Tweddle. “Sean’s requests were simple and he never gave up hope or the fight for what was right — an apology from the School Board (denied), the ability to teach in the community he cares about, where his children attend school (denied) and to be made financially whole (partially achieved).”
“I admire his courage and resolve in taking on the School Board,” said Tweddle. “He’s an incredible teacher who’s suffered greatly in a case that never should have gotten past the first lie, two-and-a-half years ago. This could happen to any teacher. What confidence does the School Board instill in FCPS teachers, with the abhorrent mishandling of this situation?”
The whole thing saddened retired teacher Kathy Young, who taught at Centre Ridge when Lanigan did. “I think of the arrest of an innocent man and picture him sitting in a jail cell for four days, knowing he had not done anything wrong, yet being treated like a criminal,” she recalled. “I remember feeling so helpless because it did not seem to make any difference what any of us on staff, or the students, tried to say about his innocence.”
“Sean Lanigan is a good man, and he deserved full compensation for his legal fees — and damages, on top of that,” continued Young. “For a school system to not support its teachers should give every single teacher in Fairfax County cause for alarm. There is much to this story that may never come out in public. But those of us who were there know that what they did to Sean is a crime.”
She said both the lie and its aftermath were “devastating to him and his family, parents, friends and community. The Ridge students did not see an example of justice being served and are fully aware of what the accuser got away with doing. Sean moves on, yet this will follow his footsteps for the rest of his life.”
When informed Tuesday what both women said, FCPS spokesman John Torre declined to comment.