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Board entered closed session to discuss pending litigation

By Eugenia Jones

The McCreary County Board of Education entered Executive/Closed session during their regular March School Board meeting on Monday, March 25, 2022 to discuss pending litigation in Cynthia Moore vs. Board of Education of McCreary County, et al (15-CI-00168), and in Timothy Moore, Melissa Stephens, and Jenny Lynn Wilson-Davis vs. Board of Education of McCreary County (15-CI-00169).

Upon returning to regular session, the Board did not discuss or take immediate specific action regarding the closed session; however, in approving actions by consent (nine agenda items approved simultaneously with no discussion), the Board authorized the Superintendent to sign all documents and items necessary to settle the legal action styled McCreary Circuit Court, Civil Action No. 15-CI-00168.  With litigation still pending, The Voice received a “no comment” response from the Superintendent when we asked for details regarding the authorization.

Public records regarding the civil actions discussed in the Executive/Closed session indicate the following:

Civil action number 15-CI-00168 (Cynthia Moore vs. The Board of Education McCreary County, Kentucky, et al.) was filed in 2015 after Moore was demoted from Assistant Principal at Whitley City Elementary to teacher.  In the civil action suit, Moore alleges, in part, that (1.) the Defendants acted with oppression and/or malice toward her, (2.) the Defendants’ actions constituted a violation of the Kentucky Whistleblower Act, and (3.) the actions of the Defendants constituted a willful violation of specific Kentucky Regulatory Statutes making the SBDM decision which abolished the Assistant Principal position at Whitley City Elementary null and void.

Civil action number 15-CI-00169 (Timothy Moore; Melissa Stephens; and Jenny Lynn Wilson-Davis vs. The Board of Education McCreary County, Kentucky, et al.) was filed at the same time in 2015 as 15-CI-00168.  The filing of this complaint came after the Plaintiffs (T. Moore, Stephens, and Wilson-Davis) were demoted and their salaries reduced.  In the civil suit action, the Plaintiffs allege, in part, that the Defendant’s actions in demoting and reducing salaries of the Plaintiffs were taken to punish and penalize Plaintiffs for their political activities at school board elections as citizens of McCreary County. The Plaintiffs also allege the Defendant’s actions were taken to discriminate against the Plaintiffs because of their exercise of free speech and that the actions against the Plaintiffs violated the Kentucky Constitution and the Kentucky Whistleblower Act.

Subsequently, in February 2019, Civil Action 15-CI-169 was consolidated into Civil Action 15-CI-168.  

On February 24, 2022, in a joint response to notices to dismiss the action for lack of prosecution, Plaintiffs and Defendants responded that shortly before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the parties had exchanged voluminous written discovery responses.  The parties were prepared to schedule depositions late in 2021 when settlement negotiations began in earnest, and the parties decided to attempt mediation before engaging in protracted and expensive discovery.  Mediation was scheduled for March 11 and 14, 2022 with commitment to conclude discovery in a timely manner if the parties’ differences were not resolved.

In other business, the Board approved the BG-2 and BG-3 for the McCreary County Middle School’s Renovation Project.  In his presentation to the Board of Education, the contractor put total cost of the project at $7,694,500 which includes general construction, site preparation, mechanical, electric, bleachers, entry/exit roadways, etc.  Depending on KDE approval, the contractor hopes the project will be ready for bid in May, 2022.

McCreary County District Judge Cathy Prewitt addressed the Board concerning her partnership with the District.  Judge Prewitt noted three areas she prioritizes in working with children:  (1.) drug court (with referrals from parents, referrals for children in the court system, and referrals for children in diversion programs with the court designated worker) (2.)  Middle school truancy (3.) Suicide prevention.

The Board also recognized the McCreary Central High School boys’ basketball team and cheerleaders for their accomplishments.

The next regular meeting of the McCreary County Board of Education will be Monday, April 25, 2022 at 6:30 p.m. at the Board’s Central Office.

Photo by Eugenia Jones

McCreary County District Judge Cathy Prewitt addressed the McCreary County Board of Education regarding her priorities in working with children in the school district.  In addition to addressing other issues with youth, Judge Prewitt places a special emphasis on drug court, middle school truancy, and suicide prevention. 

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