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Ex-school superintendent suing; alleges illegal meeting

COLUMBUS — Former school superintendent Martha Liddell has sued to get her job back.

The Commercial Dispatch reports the lawsuit was filed Friday in Lowndes County Chancery Court. The lawsuit names the school district as the defendant.

Liddell was fired June 17 on a 3-2 vote by the school board. The board has declined to give an official reason for her termination. No interim superintendent has been named.

Controversy has surrounded Liddell after questions were raised about her use of district funds and personnel for a private party and excessive travel. Liddell had said she reimbursed the school district and had done nothing wrong.

Liddell was appointed interim superintendent in May 2011 when her predecessor, Del Phillips, resigned. She was named superintendent in June 2012.

In a letter dated June 19, school board president Jason Spears informed Liddell of her official termination. The letter outlined the reason for her termination, saying she violated state law and the Mississippi Educators Code of Ethics by using district funds for a party and making misleading public statements about the use of a caterer and her attempt to reimburse the district for those costs. The letter is included in court documents.

The lawsuit, which gives only one side of the legal argument, singles out Spears and fellow school board members Glenn Lautzenhiser and Aubra Turner and alleges they acted “under the cover of darkness” in their decision to remove Liddell as superintendent. The lawsuit argues that the meeting in which Liddell was fired was held illegally. The suit also alleges some board members met privately before the June 17 meeting, which would constitute an illegal meeting.

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