July 9, 2013 10:30:00 AM
Sarah Fowler - [email protected]
The Columbus Municipal School District Board of Trustees is asking the court to throw out a suit that would return Dr. Martha Liddell to the position of schools superintendent.
A motion was filed in Lowndes County Chancery Court Monday on behalf of the CMSD board to dismiss Liddell's lawsuit. Liddell's suit requests the court immediately return her to the superintendent position.
The lawsuit asks the court to "dismiss the Plaintiff's complaint for injunctive relief and declaratory judgment" because the school board has not yet held Liddell's termination hearing.
According to the lawsuit, "By statute, this court lacks jurisdiction to consider plaintiff's procedural complaints until after the school board has held a hearing and issued a final decision."
The school board has not yet set a termination hearing date.
In a June 19 letter from the school board to Liddell, board members claim Liddell violated state law and the Mississippi Educators Code of Ethics by using district funds for a private party and making misleading public statements about the use of a caterer and her attempt to reimburse the district for those costs.
On May 30, The Dispatch reported Liddell used CMSD funds to pay for a private party for her family, friends and business acquaintances held at the Trotter Convention Center on Dec. 23, 2012.
The party cost the district $447.51. Liddell reimbursed the district using personal checks in the amount of $150 (dated Jan. 30, 2013) and $188.23 (dated May 30, 2013).
On June 17, after a four-and-a-half hour executive session, Liddell was fired in a 3-2 vote.
Under "injunctive relief" Liddell states in the lawsuit, "the injury to the plaintiff significantly outweighs the harm the injunction could cause the defendant and entry of an injunction is consistent with the public interest."
The hearing is set for July 16 in Oktibbeha County with presiding Judge Kenneth Burns.
Burns has not yet ruled on the school board's motion to dismiss.
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.