Sunday, November 21, 2010

Legal Wrangling in Cowan Case

In the past couple of months, activity in Jill Cowan's suit (Civil Action # 09-CI-1905) against Fayette County Superintendent Stu Silberman, Jesse Clark Principal Lisa Goodin and former Middle School Director Michael Ernst has been limited to attorney's motions relative to the Second Amended Supplemental Count Two.

KSN&C Backstory, then here, and here and here.

Cowan is suing the Fayette County Public Schools alleging she was denied an opportunity for promotion and that the denial was related to an unwelcomed advance from Goodin, her superior at the time. The case is being heard in Ernesto Scorcone's Seventh Division Fayette Circuit Courtroom.

Goodin's attorney filed a motion, late this summer, arguing that Cowan had been too vague about her allegations. Judge Scorcone agreed and the attorneys have been arguing over whether their clients have actually been accused of anything under the Second Amended Supplemental Count Two.

Cowan claims that she was being "blackballed" through a series of "behind the scenes" actions. The defendants claim that she has made no specific complaints to which they can respond.

Cowan claims she was denied advancement within the Fayette County schools after she reported unlawful discrimination based on her gender. She says she was retaliated against by the defendants in a conspiratorial fashion and that she "is not privy to the behind the scenes machinations of the FCPS." Cowan hopes discovery will reveal the particulars of how she was discriminated against. Cowan alleges "both a pattern of discrimination and a charge that Goodin both conspired to and acted to retaliate against her for her complaints" about Goodin.

Goodin claims she was suspended, and outrageously escorted out of the school by armed police officers, after she filed a civil rights complaint against Goodin. Her suspension, she says was "based on mere superficial claims from Goodin that Jill had returned late from a meeting in the prior month" and that she had "purportedly been 'unprofessional' during a prior telephone conversation with Goodin."

Silberman says Cowan "was suspended with afford the opportunity for an investigation of certain information" concerning Cowan's conduct.

In other news, the case is moving into the discovery phase with Jill Cowan scheduled to be deposed by Goodin's attroneys on January 5th 2011.

The attorneys involved in this one include:
For Cowan: J Robert Cowan and Charles W. Arnold.
For Silberman and the BOE: Robert Chenoweth and Grant Chenoweth.
For Ernst: Larry Bryson.
For Goodin: Steve Barker and Joshua Salsbury.


Anonymous said...

I can't wait for the truth to come out. Wonder if the H-L will print anything.

Brenda Allen said...

Replying to "Anonymous", I find the Herald Leader to be very "pro district" in their coverage of legal matters, so don't hold your breath. What will it take for the Herald Leader to provide the same dogged persistence with coverage of the school district that they did with the Newberry administration, KACo, or the Kentucky League of Cities? I think we will have to continue to get our news from Kentucky School News and Commentary instead of the HL.

Anonymous said...

Replying to Brenda Allen, as a citizen and a taxpayer I am perplexed (and frustrated) by the whole situation in the school district.

The H-L refuses to print the facts the public deserves on several important legal matters: 1) the suspension of the guidance counselor at Jesse Clark 2) the facts of the Peggy Petrelli case and where the trial stands today. 3) the foolishness of getting rid of an in-house lawyer. In short, stories have been suppressed that might make Mr. Silberman look bad.

Additionally, our local newspaper gives no voice to the growing list of teachers, school board members, and parents who question the motives of our superintendent.

Of course, as has been pointed out on numerous occasions, the H-L has selectively chosen to present coverage of the issues it feels are important for years. Oldtimers remember that the H-L apologized for the lack of coverage it gave the civil rights movement in Lexington when Fred Wachs was in charge. That even made the top story one afternoon on NPR.

Clearly, the H-L feels that they need a man to believe in. Their messiah is Mr. Silberman and they will continue to support him as best as I can see. Perhaps things will change when there is a change in the editorial staff.