Jury Sides With County BOE
|After three days of trial and
four hours of deliberations, a jury sided with the Loudon County Board
of Education in a law suit brought against the board by school nurse,
Patrina Walker. Ms Walker whose husband is BOE member Freddie Gene
Walker, filed suit against the BOE in April of 2005. The suit stemmed
from the board's decision to cut Ms. Walkers salary by approximately
$13,000.00 the year before. Mr. Walker felt strongly that the cut in his
wife's pay was due to his opposition to a large pay raise for director
of schools, Edward Heedlee and the former finance director. The suit
asked for back pay at Ms. Walker's previous salary, legal fees and any
punitive damages the jury might deem reasonable.
In a previous statement given to the News Herald in 2004, Walker said he feels the pay cut is the board’s way of getting back at him for an incident last year (2003) when he was chairman. "They gave the superintendent a $5,000 raise and the budget director a $7,000 raise, and they only gave some of the teachers a $350 raise. I pitched a fit about it, and I told the superintendent I was going to pitch a fit about it. I actually walked out of the meeting as chairman. Right after that, at the next meeting, something was brought up about how much my wife was making," Walker said.
While the law suit cited several violations including retribution by the board, sex discrimination, sunshine law violations and age discrimination, the judge threw out all charges except age discrimination which greatly reduced the jury's ability to find in favor of Ms. Walker. In the end the jury found that the BOE did not violate any age discrimination laws.
Mr. Walker stated that "some of those who took the stand in this trial that swore to tell the truth so help me God, will have to answer to God for what they said on the stand here today." The Walkers have not decided if they will seek further action.