Limestone County Schools HR director sues superintendent, school board president

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LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. – The embattled human resources director for Limestone County Schools says the district superintendent is trying to fire him as retaliation for alerting state and federal officials about wrongdoing in the school system.

Samuel Mark Isley filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Montgomery County Circuit Court against Limestone County Schools interim superintendent Michael Owens, school board president Bret McGill and other unnamed parties.

Isley was placed on paid administrative leave Jan. 27. At the time, a district spokeswoman said in a statement that the school board would conduct an internal investigation concerning his employment.

A Montgomery County judge set an emergency hearing for Thursday on Isley’s request to stay any activity by the board regarding his employment.

The lawsuit accuses Owens, McGill and others of negligence, libel and slander, conspiracy and intention to inflict emotional distress on Isley.

Isley claims in the lawsuit he still has not been given a reason for his being placed on leave, but that Owens told a local newspaper he had been placed on leave for something that was “insinuated” and not based on actual facts.

Isley claims the Board of Education is trying to fire him because he notified the Alabama State Department of Education that the district violated policy and state law by hiring unqualified teachers, which could put district funding in jeopardy.

In an affadavit accompanying the lawsuit, Isley claims district officials and staff are retaliating against him for pointing out that they misinterpreted the Americans with Disability Act. The act requires employees returning from medical leave longer than five days to submit a medical certification form signed by a doctor that indicates the employee is free of restrictions.

He also claims he is participating in an FBI and U.S. Department of Education investigation into the misuse of state and federal funds by the board.

Isley claims in the lawsuit that Owens indicated he’ll recommend Isley’s firing at the board’s March 10 meeting.

The lawsuit seeks a temporary restraining order that would keep the school board and superintendent from holding any meetings about Isley’s employment, or from hiring any other school administrators, staff or teachers. The requested order also would force officials to give Isley a reason he was placed on leave.

The suit also seeks a jury trial to determine compensatory and punitive damages.

Isley alleges the board has hired unqualified teachers, misused funds and says he is assisting in an FBI investigation. 

Limestone County Schools released a statement to WHNT News 19 late Tuesday evening that read:

“We have seen the lawsuit filed earlier today by Dr. Mark Isley. Our answer, when filed will be among other defenses that all the allegations made in the complaint are false”

Limestone County Schools Interim Superintendent Mike Owens

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