COVINGTON -- In a letter emailed to the Citizen Tuesday evening, Alcovy High School Principal LaQuanda Carpenter stated that she had decided to withdraw the pending lawsuit against Newton County Board of Education Vice Chairman Jeff Meadors in an effort to end divisiveness in the community.
The letter was forwarded by Carpenter's attorney Stephanie Lindsey, who said in her email that Carpenter would not be available for further comment on the matter.
"Recently, it has been surmised that the lawsuit (to which I am a party), the online commenting, and Board of Education mistrust are issues that are preventing us as a community from moving forward and reaching our greatest potential," Carpenter wrote in her letter. "While I have no influence over board actions or the online commenting, I do have a position relative to the pending lawsuit, Carpenter v. Meadors, and its impact on our community's continued progress. This lawsuit was filed to defend against the barrage of falsehoods and malicious attacks on my integrity, professionalism and teaching credentials. This lawsuit was filed to defend my students, teachers and administrators who have persevered through the positive transformation that AHS has begun to undergo during my tenure. This lawsuit was never meant to promote the divisive, hateful or win-at-any-cost behavior that has ensued since its inception."
Carpenter stated that she made the decision to drop the lawsuit after prayer, thought and deliberation.
"This decision was not an easy one," she wrote. "To me, this lawsuit has always been about accountability, transparency and truthfulness. To that end, I would like the community at large to know that I would welcome any level of investigation into any of my actions during the course of employment with the Newton County School System. I would welcome such investigations from any entity, regardless of whether such investigation is related to my conduct from a policy, legal, moral or ethical standpoint."
Carpenter also wrote that she wanted to thank all of those who supported and prayed for Alcovy and her family.
"I would greatly appreciate your continued prayers that this measure will be the initial step for everyone involved to begin working together for increased student achievement and community prosperity," she wrote. "I cannot dictate the virtues of others, but I will continue to live my life as one that I can be proud of as wife, mother, daughter, sister, educator, friend and citizen of Newton County."
Carpenter originally filed a lawsuit in April naming 11 "John Does" who commented about Carpenter on the Newton Citizen website. The lawsuit claimed that Carpenter had "experienced enormous suffering and damage to her reputation in the community and to her trade or profession" as a result of the website postings.
Carpenter was seeking court costs and monetary damages to be determined by a jury.
Three of the defendants were dismissed from the suit in late April, and in June the complaint was amended to add Meadors to the list of defendants. In the amended complaint, Carpenter claimed that Meadors was slanderous and malicious in making false statements about her profession to expose her to public hatred, contempt or ridicule.
She alleged that Meadors 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.
Meadors has denied that he made any defamatory statements about the plaintiff.
Also in June Judge Eugene Benton granted the Newton Citizen's motion to quash a subpoena seeking information from the newspaper that would identify the anonymous posters named in the lawsuit.
The subpoena requested from the Citizen all information and documents sufficient to identify the names, addresses and telephone numbers associated with those named in the lawsuit, as well as documents reproducing the texts of the comments from Jan. 1, 2011, to present and all server logs, IP address logs, account information, account access records and application or registration forms related to those named.
In August, all of the remaining eight "John Does" were dropped from the lawsuit, leaving Meadors as the only defendant.
Last week Meadors' attorney Jeff Foster filed a third party request in Newton County Superior Court for numerous documents from the Newton County Board of Education, school board attorney Kent Campbell and Newton County School System Superintendent Gary Mathews.