Archive for Elaine Farris

All That Glitters Isn’t Golden – Final Lawsuit Resolution

Posted in In The News, Lawsuit, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 26, 2014 by Joan Graves

It has been nearly three years since Paul and Patti Columbia and I were sued by former school superintendent, Elaine Farris. It has been three years filled with laughter, tears and an overwhelming amount of disillusionment with the justice system. Our attorney accurately labeled the fiasco when he called it a spite suit. Filing a lawsuit was a last ditch effort at shutting us up and it worked….for a while.

When the community realized all they did not know about the inner workings of the board of education they responded with disgust at the voting booth. They ousted every board member, including long-time incumbent, Debbie Fatkin, who was up for re-election. Two of the three people endorsed by Stand Up Clark County won seats on the board. At last, a new era finally was born, as opposed to being something just stamped on a hat. But that was the crux of the problem. The former administration lacked the ability to understand that strategically placing pretty, pacifist words in key locations never convinced the community they were true. Through actions and in their own legally obtained emails, the former administration presented themselves as people who thought too highly of their own opinions and not enough of the community’s. In essence, they were the makers of their own demise.

While leadership had changed hands it was only a battle won. A war was still very much underway for the Columbias and me and years of our lives were being stolen. Despite being the one to initiate the lawsuit, Elaine and her attorney, Dale Golden, seemed less invested in winning than in dragging the case out. From our perspective, Golden’s single-minded purpose was to see how long he could keep us from actually obtaining a court date. So, rather than allow the case to proceed naturally before a jury Golden employed every delay tactic at his disposal.

I lost track of the number of times we showed up in court only to discover the case had been put off. Or we would be notified that a delay tactic had been initiated only hours before we were to appear in court. All the while your tax dollars were paying for these incessant delays, and Elaine never to show up.

The final stall defense came when Golden, knowing a court date was imminent, called the judge asking for yet another delay. His desperation was evident when his reason was because he thought the trial was in Madison County. Considering the case was filed in Clark County and to my knowledge no one even mentioned Madison County, much less actually gone there, he had no reason to be of that frame of mind. Conveniently enough, when the judge refused, someone from his office, stood up in the courtroom to make her appearance known. Golden may have thought he was very cleaver but his ruse didn’t work. A court date was set and within hours of receiving a March trial date, Golden contacted our attorney to dismiss the case.

All of the accusations made against us, all of the time invested and all the tax dollars spent have all been for naught. The Supreme Court intentionally made it difficult for the wealthy, powerful or public figures to be able to sue the “little man” for slander, liable and the like. Farris held a public office paid with tax payer dollars. Those dollars have the right to be represented, challenged and accounted for. To us, it is a huge travesty of justice to allow someone sue the very people they are supposed to defend and waste the tax dollars they were entrusted to manage. It’s behavior that screams poorly orchestrated leadership and narcissistic behavior, at best.

Regardless, of what it has been, the point is what it is now – and that is over. With the dropping of the lawsuit so goes the facade of victimhood. For the only thing Elaine Farris was ever victim of was herself. That is just extremely sad. Yet, today is not a time to mourn but to celebrate. The vice that has strangled this community’s educational system has been released. Stand Up Clark County has fulfilled our promise to this great community. We have ensured that the public is at last back in public education and proven all that glitters is not Golden.

My Final Thought In Song For Tonight’s Meeting

Posted in Ashley Ritchie, Beth Griffith, BJ Swope, Board Meetings, Board Members, Board of Education (General), Deanna Wolfe, Debbie Fatkin, Dr. Michael Kuduk, Elaine Farris, Encouragement, Judy Hicks, Michael Kuduk, Michael McGowan, Point of View, Schools with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 18, 2014 by Joan Graves

keep-calm-and-love-toby-mac  I find the words I long to say to my community in the lyrics of a Toby Mac song.  I ache for our school board struggling to make decisions for the common good of everybody.  But my heart also aches for those, few as they may be, who will feel disappointed.  My prayer is that we all find a way to look beyond ourselves and go back to being the family of a community.  It was Winchester that taught me the meaning of community and forever changed my life.  I pray for us to once again become the family we were meant to be. After all, as Toby Mac says, “If we’re gotta start sometime why not now?”  Well, I’ll let Toby tell you the rest.  Just know I love you Clark County – ALL of you.

If you gotta start somewhere why not here? If you gotta start sometime why not now? If we gotta start somewhere I say here. If we gotta start sometime I say now. Through the fog there is hope in the distance, from cathedrals to third world missions. Love will fall to the earth like a crashing wave!

Tonight’s the night, for the sinners and the saints. Two worlds collide in a beautiful display. It’s all love tonight. When we step across the line, we can sail across the sea to a city with one King. A city on our knees

Tonight could last forever. WE ARE 1 CHOICE FROM TOGETHERas a family. We’re family.
Oh Tonight couldn’t last forever, we are one choice from together. You & me. It’s you and me.
IF WE GOTTA START SOMEWHERE WHY NOT HERE? IF WE GOTTA START SOMETIME WHY NOT NOW?
Stand Up Clark County & be that City on our Knees. A city willing to start here and now.

Partial Lawsuit Resolution

Posted in Lawsuit with tags , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2013 by Joan Graves

In the multiple pages of documents filed by former superintendent Elaine Farris, there was mention of only one specific. Farris stated that Patti and Paul Columbia and I filed false criminal charges against her niece, Tiffany Davis. The charges against Davis stem from an incident during a board meeting when Farris was still in charge of Clark County Schools.  Patti filed criminal charges against Davis after Davis walked by Patti and nudged, kneed, kicked, pushed or whatever verb you prefer to use. Neither Paul nor I had a hand in filing those charges. I, however, was listed as a witness due, in part, to a snippet of video captured on my phone. Davis denied all of the charges and Farris filed her civil lawsuit within a day or so of Davis being criminally charged.

In October, Davis and her attorney met with Clark County Attorney Brian Thomas. After months of delaying Davis’s trial resolution finally came. In a plea bargain, Davis agreed to a peace bond. While it doesn’t necessarily indicate Davis is admitting guilt it certainly makes the statement that she opted not to take her chances before a jury trial. The peace bond functions as a type of restraining order in which Davis agrees to stay away from the Columbias and therefore avoids further court appearances and possible jail time.

Why did you not read this in the Winchester Sun? I asked the same question. The Sun’s response was that since Davis didn’t live in Clark County they didn’t report on it. Yet, the crime occurred in Clark County, the trial would have taken place here and the plea deal was struck by our tax paid county attorney, thereby providing a steak in the case to every tax paying citizen in Clark County. The Winchester Sun is filled daily with car accidents, crimes and other stories regarding individuals that do not live in Clark County. So, we must ask ourselves why the Sun has “rules” that apply to some but not all. Then again, considering comic books are larger than the Winchester Sun these days I don’t think it matters much.

Stand Up Clark County and demand truth and disclosure.  Image

 

A New Era Begins For CCPS

Posted in Board of Education (General), Encouragement, In The News with tags , , , , , on June 11, 2013 by Joan Graves

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After much deliberation and contemplation Paul Christy has been selected to be the next superintendent of Clark County Public Schools. Christy’s road to the helm of CCPS has been anything but smooth.

During the 2009 superintendent search Christy was in the running but lost to previous superintendent, Elaine Farris. Christy and Farris’s relationship came under scrutiny when Stand Up Clark County released emails exchanged between them. The emails, obtained through Kentucky’s Open Records law, revealed that Christy’s job responsibilities included washing and refueling Farris’s car, despite the fact that he has been a long-time educator in Clark County and was the assistant superintendent at the time.

As our educational woes increased, Christy and his family became a direct target. Mean-spirited and unfounded accusations regarding Christy were submitted to Stand Up Clark County through this blog. The safety of the entire Christy family was brought into question when secret videos of  the Christy home and family, including children, were taken and posted online by KY Anonymous. Throughout the ordeal the Christy family remained strong and committed to educating the students in this county.

Considering Christy has been employed during the controversy and weathered personal attacks himself, he is likely better prepared for the extremely difficult road ahead. Superintendent Christy is the latest step taken on a very long road to healing for this community. There will be many obstacles we still will face but with a new superintendent and united, strong board we are well on our way to improving the educational landscape of this community. Congratulations, Paul Christy and thank you Michael McGowan, Ashley Ritchie and Dr. Michael Kuduk for having the courage and strength to take on the stressful task of bringing forth a new era.

Stand Up Clark County for our new superintendent.

 

Trying To Answer Your Questions On Today’s Fast Breaking Events

Posted in Board of Education (General), Herald-Leader, In The News, Lawsuit, National Stories, Winchester Sun with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2013 by Joan Graves
Downtown Winchester, KY

Downtown Winchester, KY (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There have been some important events today. I’m always amazed at how quickly information travels. As you all know, I am restricted from discussing specifics of the lawsuit filed against the Columbias and me. I can confirm that yes there have been new developments today but I can elaborate no further. However, be assured that the moment we have secured our victory you will hear about it first right here.

The middle school merger is getting some long overdue attention. In addition to the previous post regarding Herald-Leader coverage you can follow this link http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-971738 to my CNN iReport.

Speaking of media attention, I will be interviewed tomorrow by Casey Castle of the Winchester Sun. I know many of you have been frustrated with the Sun coverage which is why I think it’s important you know about the interview. I have been very pleased with recent conversations with Mr. Castle and am thrilled he has taken on the endeavor of writing an in-depth report of the entire school issue.

I know many of you want answers and you will have them as soon as I am able to release them to you. Until then be pleased with the changes your commitment has brought about and look forward to the fantastic days ahead.

Stand Up Clark County and stay tuned.

Final Legal Update

Posted in Board of Education (General), Elaine Farris, Lawsuit with tags , , , , , , , on February 19, 2013 by Joan Graves

A Flashmob for Free Speech - 2

This will be the last update I will provide regarding the lawsuit. I have been notified by my attorney that an order has been secured which prevents me from having any comments on this blog or elsewhere in social media. This “gag order” of sorts, is in effect for ALL parties. Your continued support and prayers are greatly appreciated and I will be back in touch as soon as I am legally able to do so.

Kudos To Kuduk For His Handling Of Tonight’s BOE Controversy

Posted in Board Meetings, Board of Education (General), Point of View with tags , , , , , on February 5, 2013 by Joan Graves

When Dr. Michael Kuduk became the board chair he made it clear that a major priority will be improving the district and community relationship. He certainly demonstrated his commitment tonight. Even though tonight’s board meeting meets Kentucky Open Meeting regulations that was not enough for Dr. Kuduk. He has higher expectations. He does not want a board willing to meet the bare minimum of the law. Instead, he seeks a board that embodies the “spirit of the law“. That spirit is how the board carries out KRS statute 61.805 which states that the public must have ample notice regarding any meeting that will be discussing public business. Dr. Kuduk made clear  someone had failed to put the public’s best interest first and he was not happy about it.

To remedy the situation, Dr. Kuduk announced the board wouldn’t be taking action on any agenda items tonight. Instead, the public would be made aware of what was going to be discussed so they may attend the next meeting if they desire. He went on to say the board would continue with presentations from superintendent search organizations in attendance but there be no board vote on it until the public had an opportunity to comment.  What is likely not a surprise to anyone,  Judy Hicks objected.

Judy determined that because one of the agenda items was the acceptance of Superintendent Elaine Farris’s  resignation they shouldn’t hear any presentations until the resignation had been formally accepted by the board.  Judy seems to be laboring under the misconception that Elaine’s resignation is questionable. Dr. Kuduk pointed out that Elaine publicly announced her resignation to the board at the last meeting and it has been posted on the  district’s website.  He concluded that it would be a tremendous waste of time for the organizations prepared to pitch their services to now be denied because someone on our part dropped the ball.

In her typical passive-aggressive style, Judy continued to verbally spar with Dr. Kuduk, who was having none of her nonsense. Then in a shocking move, Judy attempted to undermine Dr. Kuduk by soliciting the opinion of board attorney Henry Rosenthal. Rosenthal agreed with Dr. Kuduk, stating it was common knowledge Elaine resigned and the vote to accept her resignation was formality because Elaine couldn’t be forced to work at a job she quit.  Discussion over.

The importance of the exchange between Dr. Kuduk and Judy Hicks cannot be ignored. Judy claimed only to be asking a question to get clarification. Yet, there was no confusion. It had been established that Dr. Kuduk was acting in accordance with the law and that Elaine had made her resignation public.  Despite these glaring facts Judy continued to press the issue.

Dr. Kuduk is the chairman of the board which technically makes him Judy’s boss. In what other job would an employee be allowed to continue protesting the instructions of her boss and not be insubordinate? Insubordination is grounds for automatic dismissal in the working world. While Judy’s behavior is up for interpretation, it certainly raises some questions. Is she having trouble relinquishing control of the board to Dr. Kuduk? Was she challenging Dr. Kuduk because she personally resents him? Is there a deeper, more sinister motive of which we are not privy?

It’s important to keep these questions in mind. If Judy is on a personal mission it is the responsibility of the board and the community to seek her removal from the board. It is also our responsibility to give Judy an opportunity to demonstrate that she is willing to work with the new board for the betterment of Clark County students. At this stage we can’t determine for certain what is taking place so we should carefully observe her behaviors and attitudes in the future.

In the mud of all the legalities, petty differences and personal agendas one thing is absolute. A new era has arrived in Clark County. Change is marching in and taking no prisoners. Dr. Michael Kuduk is taking the board of education in a new direction. People are talking about how, under his leadership, the board is more focused on priorities. As more energy, enthusiasm and zeal tear through the board the public celebrates its readmission into education.

Stand Up Clark County and give kudos to Kuduk.

Our Answers Only Hours Away

Posted in Elaine Farris, Encouragement, Herald-Leader, In The News, Lawsuit, Point of View, Winchester Sun, WKYT with tags , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2013 by Joan Graves

2012 teacher of yr Rebecca Mieliwoki

For over a year the citizens of Clark County have searched for answers for what has been described as burning questions. Yet, we have been repeatedly denied what we believe is our right to know. Despite a rigorous legal campaign launched by Elaine Farris to avoid giving a deposition in the lawsuit she filed, that deposition will take place in a little over 12 hours. At long last many questions that have echoed in our minds will now be asked and In a peculiar twist it’s Elaine that we can thank for our impending revelations.

The lawsuit Farris filed against the Columbias and me was ambiguous at best. Though rich in shock-value adjectives, the suit provides not a single shred of evidence or specific allegations.  It basically says we said things about her she doesn’t like so she is suing. Only in a civil case could someone have others hauled into court with a list of baseless allegations and not even a smidgen of circumstantial evidence. The only requirement for a civil lawsuit is money for an attorney. It’s a shocking revelation of American “justice” of which, I could have lived my entire life without knowing,  It’s an an insult to the integrity our forefathers thought they were creating in America and disgusting waste of tax-payer money that could be invested in our schools.

In her deposition Farris will either defend herself and her actions or she will be as evasive as she’s been in the past. I am expecting the latter but Farris’s supporters are excitedly spreading  word that Elaine will rigorously defend herself in great detail. . According to them, Elaine will provide evidence and details that will be a logical explanation for everything and prove us to be liars. And I’m saying that’s not even possible. But one thing is for absolute certain, this time tomorrow we can all stop speculating.

To be fair, we should note that after Farris’s deposition the Columbias and I will also give a deposition. Don’t expect any new information from us. Lord, knows we’ve not only been an open book but we’ve provided sketches, maps and Cliff Notes. But regardless of whether you are interested in information from Farris, the Columbias or me you will have it tomorrow.

Having never gone through the process before, I am uncertain how long it will take tomorrow. But I will provide an update to this blog as soon as possible. It’s impossible to face tomorrow and not thank all of you. It has been one of the greatest privileges of my life to serve my community in this fashion. Thank you for your overwhelming support, perseverance and grace to correct any mistakes I have made. Together we are marching toward truth and justice.

Stand Up Clark County – our time is at hand.

Weather Decisions Can Mean Life Or Death For Students

Posted in Board of Education (General), Point of View with tags , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2013 by Joan Graves

I am a trained weather spotter and always monitor the sky anytime there is a threat of severe weather.  I report to the National Weather Service in Louisville about conditions as they unfold and they pass the information to the general public.

During the spring tornadoes can be seen in early morning hours but a tornado in January is concealed because the sun isn’t up. Add to that, a rain wrapped and we have the makings for potential disaster. That was the case this morning.

When my ears began popping I knew the pressure had changed and the possibility of a tornado was high. I opened my front door I saw the rain that was falling nearly horizontal at that point, start twisting and swirling into a perfect funnel form. I immediatel beat on my neighbors door to warn them but despite knowing what danger to look for,  I still had seen it. People tend to look and see only rain not considering there is danger hiding on the other side of that rain. In more ways than one, we all should be acutely aware that just because we don’t see a threat doesn’t mean its not there.

Apparently, this illusion of safety extended to our school leadership. But that illusion is not an excuse because we’ve known the storm was coming for days. It even made national news. We also knew that the path of the storm was headed straight for us and would hit at the exact time small kids on wet, dangerous county roads would be boarding busses. It was a fast moving storm and an hour delay would’ve been sufficient. Decisions made by school leaders can save or risk lives and sometimes it’s up others to determine if they will obey the decision or not.

On May 18, 1995 my nephews were waiting to exit a bus at Jessamine County High School when the principal made the decision to have drivers hold students on the buses rather than open their doors at the bell. A storm had been brewing since the middle of morning pick up and the principal could tell a different plan was needed for the 600 students in the parking lot. The storm created millions of dollars in damage to the school district. But because a principal made a decision no students were walking the halls of the school when the wall collapsed. Had those students been in the school rather than on the buses there would have been more than 26 injured and would’ve likely resulted in fatalities. Those kids now have an exciting tale to relay to their own kids thanks to the decision of one man.

As parents it is first our responsibility to make choices about our kids attending school. No parent should ever put a child on a bus if they have questions or misgivings about safety. But the district equally shares that responsibility, especially for students whose parents aren’t home when they get on the bus.

At 5 a.m. we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the fast moving storm was barreling down on us at the same time elementary students would be boarding buses. There was no guess work here. Over the last few years Clark County has developed a chronic lack of weather safety and parents are furious. Parents feel children are being put at risk by district decisions.

Making today’s circumstances worse are rumors that Superintendent Elaine Farris didn’t show up at work today. Many are wondering if that’s because she didn’t want to come out in the weather or if she is hiding, unwilling to take responsibility for the choice to not delay school. I have no idea where Elaine Farris is. But wherever she is, I hope she’s getting an apology and a better weather plan together.

Stand Up Clark County and refuse to accept decisions that shift in the wind.

 

The Difference In Criminal & Civil Harassment – A Back-story In The Lawsuit

Posted in Lawsuit, Point of View with tags , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2013 by Joan Graves
http://openclipart.org/clipart/people/magnifyi...

http://openclipart.org/clipart/people/magnifying_glass_01.svg License: PublicDomain Keywords: people Author: AbiClipart Title: Magnifying Glass (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the lawsuit filed by Elaine Farris she states; “the Defendant, Patricia Columbia, swore out a false Criminal Complaint, alleging harassment against the Plaintiff’s niece, who is an employee of Fayette County Schools, in an attempt to further harass and embarrass the Plaintiff. The criminal conduct was alleged to have occurred on the day Elaine Farris was being evaluated.” Odd thing to find in a defamation suit against me, don’t you think? This is the only specific incident listed in her multi-page suit and I’m not even involved. With about a 100 other individuals I happen to be present when the alleged incident occurred so how come I’m the only one sued?

The suit claims that charges were filed as a means to “further embarrass her”. The problem there is that we never brought the charges to the attention of the public. Elaine did.  So, if she suffered embarrassment it was by her own hand.  But since she brought it up let’s talk about it.

It’s important to note that the niece, Tiffany Davis, is innocent until proven guilty. Her guilt or innocence rests in the hands of a jury of her peers not her aunt or public opinion. It is also important to note that Elaine Farris, as of the writing of this blog, has not been charged with any crime.

There are two types of harassment; criminal and civil. Davis’s alleged harassment is criminal. Criminal charges require presenting evidence to the county attorney who determines if it points to possible criminal activity. The county attorney is paid by tax payers not individuals and is under no obligation to bring a case to trial that doesn’t have merit. If Davis is found guilty a jury will determine her punishment may range from fines and community service to jail time.

The Columbias and I face civil harassment charges which have no criminal element. Cases like ours are handled by private attorneys who have no burden of proof at all. All that is needed is an accusation and money and you’ve got yourself a case. Sadly, a civil suit can be filed by anyone for any reason without the first shred of evidence. Civil cases are less about crime and more about punishment. And the punishment always comes in the form of a big fat check.

A civil suit is raised for one of two reasons. Someone has something happen to them, such as a fall or car accident and an attorney specializing in that area files a lawsuit on behalf of the injured. The other is what many call a spite, punishing or vindictive lawsuit. These suits are often fueled by someone wanting to exert influence and power over another, especially if the person being sued doesn’t have the financial means for a pay-out to end the torment. This type of suit drags on racking up hefty legal fees for the victim until a judge finally calls a halt to the charade and tosses the case. There may be other reasons for civil cases but as far as I can tell these are the main reasons.

Farris filed her lawsuit within days of her niece being served papers alleging criminal activity. Incidentally, the attorney for Davis’s criminal case and Farris’s civil one is of the same firm. Which opens a slew of ethical questions for me. Especially, considering the fact that Farris has refused to give a deposition detailing her claims in a suit she filed. It makes me wonder if the civil attorney is buying time to see how the criminal case fares in court. That is of course my own person speculation.

Obviously, Davis may be found innocent. But one thing is for absolute certain, it is not up to Farris or her attorney to determine if the accusations against Davis are false. Talk about slander. The County Attorney found sufficient evidence to proceed with a criminal case. Meanwhile, Farris uses a spite suit to slander the victim and potential witness. The only only individuals that have the authority to judge the merits of Davis case are those sitting in the jury box. The way I see it, for Farris and her attorney to publicly accuse Columbia of the crime of filing a false criminal complaint and then to try to pass that label on to me, is more than slander. It’s a flat-out lie and borderline criminal in itself.