BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The principal of McKinley High School, who’s been on paid leave through a five-year court battle with the district, can return to her post — if she wants, as she has reached a settlement with the Buffalo Board of Education.

Students at McKinley High School accused Crystal Boling-Barton of discriminating against certain students, part of the LGBTQ+ community. After the ACLU sued the school district and Barton, officials set in motion steps to terminate her.

In May 2017, Barton was placed on administrative leave, required by state law when school officials are in the process of terminating a tenured teacher. The ACLU sued the school district, accusing Barton of discrimination, but it was quickly resolved.

“So it was really a lot to do about nothing,” said union attorney Robert Boreanaz, who represents Barton. “The superintendent at the time could have resolved it, and chose not to.”

Over the next five years, Barton’s leave with pay resulted in her receiving full pay of more than $600,000, $200,000 in additional pay and damages, $60,000 for her attorneys fees and about $15,000 in legal expenses incurred by her union — a total of more than $900,000.

Boreanaz contends former superintendent Kriner Cash could have prevented the entire costly ordeal, and now he is gone.

“The leadership now has decided to take a fresh look at things,” he said. “And decided that it was in the best interest of the district to move forward and resolve all these matters.”

Barton is the president of the union that represents principals and administrators and Boreanaz believes that was Kriner Cash’s motivation to tarnish her reputation.

The school board has released a statement that said, in part, Barton is now eligible to immediately return to service at McKinley, the board is pleased to have finally put all these matters behind them, and the district is appreciative and thankful to Principal Barton for all of her years of service.

Barton also filed a complaint against Kriner Cash and the school district on the grounds of age, gender, and racial discrimination. That complaint, filed with the State Division of Human Rights was dropped as a condition of the settlement.

Al Vaughters is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 1994. See more of his work here. To submit a Call 4 Action, click here.