Former employee files civil suit against school system

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Back pay, benefits, punitive damages, attorney fees requested

By Linda Ireland

A former LaRue County School District employee has filed a civil suit against the LaRue County Board of Education in LaRue Circuit Court.

Melissa Enlow, a LaRue County Middle School lunchroom supervisor, was terminated June 15. Her suit claims violation of Kentucky’s Whistleblower Statute which protects public employees from reprisals if they divulge information of a suspected law violation.

According to the suit, Enlow began employment with the school district as a part-time custodian in 1998, became a lunchroom worker in 2000 and eventually a supervisor.

Enlow claims she received superior employee evaluations for several years. That changed, according to her suit, after she cooperated with an Office of Education Accountability investigation.

In 2008, the OEA investigated a complaint of nepotism that DeeAnn Sanders, wife of Superintendent Sam Sanders, was unlawfully employed in a supervisory position. The OEA did not substantiate the complaint. Their findings showed that in 2002, DeeAnn Sanders’ position was changed from director of child nutrition to coordinator of child nutrition. In addition to loss of supervisory authority, her annual salary was cut by $3,000.

During questioning, two lunchroom managers told OEA they believed DeeAnn Sanders acted as their supervisor. Two did not.

The OEA report did not specify which lunchroom managers believed Sanders acted as a supervisor.

Enlow claims that after her testimony to OEA, she began to receive “unfair criticism” of her work including “crumbs on the floor and residue on a door.”

Enlow claims she was terminated by LCMS Principal Corey Keith without written or oral warning and later received a letter of termination from Superintendent Sanders.

Enlow claims she suffered embarrassment and humiliation from the dismissal. She seeks back wages and benefits, punitive damages and attorney fees. She also asks for a court order reinstating her to her position with all rights of seniority.

Superintendent Sanders referred questions to school attorney Jim Whitlow and attorney Mike Owsley with English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley in Bowling Green. Ohio Casualty, the school’s insurance carrier, assigned Owsley to the case.

Whitlow said the school will file a response to the complaint within the next week. The matter was discussed in executive session at the school board Monday night.

Lawsuits give only one side of a disagreement and do not reflect any counterclaims and/or settlements that may have occurred since the initial suit was filed.