Barrow County School officials now admit they do not know who sent the email accusing former Apalachee High School teacher Ashley Payne of inappropriate conduct on the social networking site Facebook.
According to Payne’s attorney Richard Storrs, Apalachee High School principal David McGee and assistant principal Dorann Mansberger admitted during depositions they did not know who sent the email and had not conducted an investigation to determine the identity of the complainant.
The admission contradicts earlier statements from Barrow County Schools’ public relations coordinator Lisa Leighton in which she said the school system wanted to protect the identity of both the parent and the student in light of the controversy created by Payne’s lawsuit.
“To the best of my knowledge, the administrators are aware of who this parent and who this student is,” Leighton said.
The school system declined to comment on the depositions saying they would not be issuing any statements regarding litigation involving school personnel.
Payne filed suit against the Barrow County School system in October alleging she was forced to resign because of her activity on Facebook.
On the morning of Aug. 27, 2009, Superintendent Ron Saunders received an email from an individual claiming to be the parent of an AHS student. The email stated that Payne had “unacceptable pictures of herself smiling with alcohol for all her online friends to view” and had used profanity on her Facebook page.
Saunders forwarded the email to McGee who in turn met with Payne.
During the meeting, McGee allegedly told Payne that her online conduct was unacceptable and that if she did not resign, she would be suspended. McGee further advised that a suspension would adversely affect her chances for future employment. McGee reportedly told Payne that she “could not win this” and that resignation was her best option.
As a result of the meeting, Payne resigned from the school system immediately.
Payne subsequently claimed she was not informed of her right to a hearing, nor was it disclosed that a suspension could only be for a period of ten days. Payne maintains her resignation was wrongfully coerced by McGee.
Uh oh, they caught BCS people with their, uh, shirt unbuttoned.
When the BCS PR flack said, "To the best of my knowledge" she really meant "I don't have a clue but I'm going to say whatever helps us look good on this and hope no one goes behind me and checks." They checked. She looks stupid.
I still feel it was another teacher or an administrator that sent the annonymous email. Someone knew exactly what to write that would ruffle the feathers of our fine BOE as well as the blaring fact the letter was worded and punctuated in a manner that points towards a scholar.
Wondering if this would qualify for cyberbullying? Wasn't there mention of an investigation into the source of the email?