School Board Meeting Held, Leslie Smith Hired
Newspaper Libel Suit Settled
School Construction Making Progress
Board Meeting Held, Leslie Smith Hired At LA
By Dewain E. Peek,
The Overton County Board of Education held the regular
monthly meeting on Tuesday, April 3.
In executive action, a change order was approved
for Living-ston Middle School for a roof change in the amount of
Director of Schools Bill Needham said, "There
are several things, especially at Livingston Middle School, that
were probably unknowns going in. Everybody did as best they could
as far as what was there.
"But, on the roof system that's there, it turned
out that some of the things that were in the original specifications
and plans when the original building was erected were different
from what was finally put into the building, and one of those things
had to do with the roof.
"There are two parts to the roof change that
are covered here. The first of those is something we did know and
weren't sure how we wanted to approach it until we got up there
and checked a little further. That's on top of the gym that's there.
That roof is basically a flat roof, but it does have a little slope
to the center.
"There's one roof drain that drains all the water
from that one large expanse of roof. That's probably been the cause
of numerous leaks over the years, that tends to be pretty much in
The roof will be reconfigured to make the water run
off the roof, according to Director Needham.
The other part is over the classrooms where it has
wood blocking around the perimeter of the roof, stacked up three
"That was the thing that was not known from the
original plan. Those weren't shown to be there," Needham said.
The top two boards will have to be removed, according
to Director Needham.
"I feel like those are good design changes,
because we don't want to have any flat roofs,Ó Director Needham
In new business, Shawn Hughes letter of resignation
was accepted. He has taken a job with Standing Stone State Park.
Brenda S. Reeder's request for medical leave from
April 12 to June 4 was granted.
Local Amendment #18, Safe & Drug Free, carry-over
Budget 00-21 was approved, as was Local Amendment #19, 2000-01 Education
Edge, Amendment #1.
Rickman Elementary School was given permission for
the seventh and eighth grade accelerated reading students to take
a trip to Six Flags Over Georgia on April 28.
Rickman Elementary was also given permission for the
eighth grade class to take a trip to Pigeon Forge on May 7 and 8.
The Board approved selling surplus property. Director
Needham was given authority to set a date for the sale.
Director Needham issued the Director's Report to the
School Board. Actions taken by the school director are as follows:
Brad Simmons and Bill Phipps were hired as non-certified
Anita Phillips was hired as a teacher assistant and
library assistant at Wilson Elementary School.
Wanda Buchner was hired as a replacement custodian
for the remainder of the 2000-2001 school year.
All tenured teachers were hired for the 2001-2001
Billy Heady and Megan McMehan were hired as teachers
at Wilson Elementary for the 2001-2001 school year.
Barbara Allen was hired as a replacement Special Education
aide at Wilson Elementary to replace Jennifer Harris who is out
on medical leave.
Tammy Vaughn was hired as an educational assistant
to be placed in the Behavior Class per IEP.
Terry Webb was hired as vocational and maintenance
director for the 2001-2002 school year.
Shirley Myers was hired as the K-6 supervisor of instruction
and technology coordinator for the 2001-2002 school year.
Leslie Smith was hired as a math teacher at Livingston
Academy for the 2001-2002 school year. She will also be the girls
basketball coach for LA.
Board member Larry Looper commended Director Needham
on hiring Smith, saying he believes she will continue to keep the
Lady Wildcats at the top of high school basketball.
Director Needham said, "Mr. Ledbetter and I interviewed
her, and she probably talked as much about the math program as she
did the basketball program, and I was impressed with that. I feel
fortunate that we are getting someone with a degree in mathematics
from Vander-bilt, and with some experience in that."
He said colleagues of hers where she has worked said
she was a top-notch math teacher.
Director Needham said, "I feel like she is committed
to the full program, both basketball and the academic program. I
think that's something we've been looking for."
Director Needham informed the Board that A.H. Roberts
Elementary School has been awarded a Fundamentals In Reading Skills
using Technology (FIRST) grant in the amount of $82,160. No matching
funds will be required. The Goals 2000 grant money will be available
The meeting adjourned.
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Libel Suit Settled
A libel suit filed against the Livingston Enterprise,
a local newspaper, has reportedly been settled out of court.
A judicial settlement conference was held at Putnam
County Courthouse Monday, April 9, with Judge John Turnbull as mediator.
The meeting began at 1 p.m. and the settlement was reportedly completed
about three hours later.
An out-of-court settlement does not necessarily indicate
guilt or innocence of the parties involved. Many out of court settlements
are made because the agreement reached is in the best interests
of the parties involved. The complaint centered on an advertisement.
The complaint filed February 22 by Donna Beaty asserted
that on May 9, 1999, the Livingston Enterprise negligently and maliciously
published a paid advertisement by Jackie Trapp concerning Donna
Beaty that was false, slanderous, and libelous.
The advertisement contained four excerpts or questions
from an alleged polygraph test taken by Trapp. The suit alleged
that the full polygraph report was never reviewed by the Livingston
Enterprise prior to publication and no efforts were made to determine
accuracy or the reason for publication.
The suit stated, "Plaintiff alleges that Defendant
knew or should have known that the "advertisement" was
not an advertisement but slanderous accusations and was false. Defendant
acted negligently and maliciously towards Plaintiff by publishing
Beaty's suit alleged that her attorney, Lana Lennington,
contacted the newspaper's publisher, Richard Knight, and informed
him of ongoing litigation in the matter and told him the advertisement
After the advertisement ran in the Enterprise, Beaty's
attorney allegedly sent a proposed retraction to the Enterprise
on July 12, 1999. The attorney then allegedly sent a proposed retraction
to the Enterprise on July 22, 1999 asking that a retraction and
apology to Beaty be placed on the newspaper's front page.
The suit asked for compensatory damages of $250,000
and another $250,000 or more for punitive and special damages, plus
other related costs.
The suit was filed shortly after Mitchell Media, Incorporated,
founded by Andy and Vanessa Mitchell, purchased Enterprise Printing
Company, Incorporated, publisher of Livingston Enterprise and Jackson
County Sentinel newspapers, from Richard and Louise Knight and Austin
and Carmine Jennings.
Overton County News was approached to run the advertisement
in question at about the same time the ad was placed in the Enterprise.
OCN declined it.
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Construction Making Progress
Construction underway at Wilson Elementary is indicative
of the construction going on at all Overton County Schools.
Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570