COVINGTON --Alcovy High School Principal LaQuanda Carpenter has added school board Vice Chair Jeff Meadors to her lawsuit against eight other "John Does" who commented negatively about her on the Newton Citizen website.
Carpenter's attorney Stephanie Lindsey filed an amendment Friday to her original suit in Newton County Superior Court.
In the amended complaint, Carpenter claims Meadors was slanderous and malicious in making false statements about her profession to expose her to public hatred, contempt or ridicule.
She alleges that he made comments on the Newton Citizen website under pseudonyms or gave information obtained through his capacity as a board member to others who made the comments.
Carpenter states in the suit that in January 2011, Meadors expressed concerns that she was working in the same system as her spouse, Dr. Dennis Carpenter, who is deputy superintendent of operations at the Newton County School System. After the Newton County Board of Education launched "a detailed analysis ... and whether (their marriage) had any cross over influence involving (Carpenter) and her role in NCSS," the board agreed there was no conflict of interest and the matter was closed, according to the amended complaint.
However, in October 2011, Dennis Carpenter received "several complaints" about a central office employee's job performance not related to his wife or Alcovy High School, according to the amended suit. Dennis Carpenter discussed the complaints with the superintendent, the executive leadership team of NCSS and the employee by email, after which the employee warned him of retaliation.
The lawsuit does not specify any details about that alleged retaliation.
Dennis Carpenter then presented the personnel issue to the school board for assistance. After the handling of the matter, LaQuanda Carpenter alleges in the suit that blog postings began appearing on the Newton Citizen website referencing matters discussed in closed session meetings, the plaintiff and her husband.
She claims in the suit that the defamatory statements initially attacked her husband, and then, "when there was no reaction to the defamatory blog postings about plaintiff's spouse, the postings began attacking plaintiff and the school in which she was principal," reads the complaint.
She claims that the Alcovy High administration has had to divert resources to defend "baseless allegations" made on the Newton Citizen website and that the comments affected staff morale.
In the amended suit, LaQuanda Carpenter alleges that Meadors, who writes a column for the Citizen, uses his column "as a platform to personally post or solicit defamatory statements about (the Carpenters) for the sole purpose of damaging their reputation in the community" and discusses issues that were addressed in confidential executive board sessions.
"I have never written columns with the intent of harming anyone. If the shoe fits, then wear it," Meadors said Monday. "I have no plans to stop writing columns. I have no plans of changing what I currently do."
Carpenter claims that Meadors created the blog IDs "MsLoy," "MissLoy" and "KBeet," among others, on the Citizen website to post defamatory comments; Shannon Black previously admitted she was "MsLoy" and "KBeet." LaQuanda Carpenter also claims that defendant "Satan69" is an employee of Meadors'.
"I am not these blogger names," Meadors said Monday. "I have not posted a comment since the ones I put my name to in late April when the lawsuit came out and the public reaction exploded."
According to the amended complaint, Meadors and the school board attorney were served a cease and desist letter on May 7, and the suit alleges that Meadors continued to make libelous and slanderous comments in public and post defamatory and slanderous comments on the Newton Citizen website after receipt of the letter using newly created blog identities.
"I have not received anything in the mail regarding cease and desist," Meadors said Monday. "I had an email from her in my junk mail box but it was not relevant to any actions made by me."
"Upon information and belief ... defendant Meadors continued his libelous, slanderous and malicious campaign against the plaintiff for the sole purpose of damaging her reputation in the community and to her trade or profession and to expose her to public hatred, contempt and/or ridicule," reads the complaint.
"I will act professionally, as I strive to do always, but it has not been easy being a lone voice wanting to support what I find to be serious concerns that need to be followed up on and investigated," Meadors said. "This should have been handled long ago, so we would not be at this point."
Meadors said he'd rather spend his time talking about student achievement.
"System resources and work day hours have been used on this suit," he said. "It's hogwash."
The original suit named 11 "John Does," and in late April, Lindsey filed a motion to dismiss three of the defendants.
In the suit, Carpenter is seeking to recover punitive damages, court costs and attorney fees, as well as "special damages" suffered as a result of "malicious injuries" to her profession and general damages she has incurred as a result of the defendants' "malicious acts and omissions," both in an amount to be determined by a jury.
A motion hearing to quash a subpoena requesting from the Citizen all information and documents sufficient to identify the names, addresses and telephone numbers associated with those named in the lawsuit is set for 9:30 a.m. June 19 in the Superior Court of Judge Eugene Benton.