School board, Larke win suit

The Richmond County Board of Education and former Superintendent Charles Larke have won a lawsuit filed against them by a teacher.

U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood ruled in favor of the school board and Dr. Larke on Friday and granted them summary judgment in the civil lawsuit filed by Lori Myles.

Ms. Myles alleged she was retaliated against and unfairly passed over for promotion after rejecting what she said were Dr. Larke's sexual advances during a 2000 business trip to Jamaica.

Ms. Myles' lost the legal arguments on several fronts - from expiration of the statute of limitations to lack of proof of sexual harassment.

Ms. Myles contended she was punished for speaking out about the promotion of unqualified applicants.

Such allegations are a matter of public concern, Judge Wood wrote in her opinion, and are protected as free speech by the Constitution when raised in public. But Ms. Myles raised her complaints in private conversations with co-workers or school board members, which isn't the same, the judge wrote.

Judge Wood also rejected Ms. Myles' allegations that Dr. Larke's alleged comments to her in Jamaica were connected in any way to her lack of career advancement.