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Parent alleges threat by school district's attorney

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

A Riverdale parent, Linda Granger, who frequently attends Clayton County Board of Education meetings, said she has filed a complaint with the State Bar of Georgia against Shool System General Counsel Julie Lewis, accusing the attorney of threatening her.

Lewis, however, said she contacted the bar Wednesday, and was told no complaints had been received against her. Officials from the State Bar of Georgia could not be reached for comment. Officials with the organization have maintained that the bar's policies dictate that they neither confirm, nor deny whether investigations of attorneys are taking place.

Granger and Lewis apparently got into a disagreement over comments Granger made about Lewis during the school board's Feb. 2 meeting. Granger accused Lewis of not responding to an open-records request, during the public comment session of the meeting. She later alleged that Lewis threatened to sue her.

"I think attorneys should be held to the same ethical standards as everyone else," Granger said Thursday. She is accusing Lewis of violating the state bar's Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct.

The uproar between the two women came when School Board Chairperson Alieka Anderson stopped Granger from mentioning Lewis by name during Granger's public comments. School board policy forbids the naming of students, school system employees, or board members during those sessions.

Lewis said Granger called her before the meeting, and talked about naming people she wanted to discuss in individualized education programs (IEPs), and never filed a formal, open-records request.

Each of the women tells a different version of what transpired between them. Granger said Lewis approached her after the meeting and threatened to sue her for mentioning Lewis' name during Granger's public comments. She also said she told Lewis to keep her distance, because Lewis is an attorney.

"She shouldn't have been in my face, especially after I asked her to give me my space," Granger said.

Lewis, however, said she was talking to board member Anderson when Granger approached her.

"Ms. Granger had followed me up to the dais and began interrupting me and the conversation I was having with the board chair," Lewis said. "At that point, I informed Ms. Granger as to the rationale behind the policy, and that she could be sued for slander or defamation of character.

"I never got into her personal space."