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Goree says she sued BOE to clear her name

By Kathy Jefcoats

kjefcoats@news-daily.com

JONESBORO — A Clayton County Board of Education member sanctioned last year said she filed a civil lawsuit against the superintendent and rest of the board to clear her name.

District 3 Representative Jessie Goree was in Clayton Superior Court Wednesday on the complaint she filed in February against her fellow board members, former superintendent Dr. Ed Heatley and board attorney Glenn Brock.

However, because Goree was representing herself in the initial filing, the defendants weren’t served notice by the sheriff’s office as required by law. Six months later, the case was on the peremptory calendar in Clayton Superior Court. Instead, Goree asked for a continuance because of the delay in serving the defendants. They were properly served last week.

In a letter to presiding Judge Geronda Carter, Goree apologized for the misstep, saying she was trying to “cut corners” by representing herself. Goree stated she thought she properly served the defendants by personally handing them copies of the complaint.

Defendants have 45 days in which to now answer a civil lawsuit so a response has not been filed. Goree is being represented by Ray C. Humphrey of the Johnson and Freeman Law Firm in Union City.

Goree was censured in November for allegedly making inappropriate remarks to Heatley during a meeting of the booster club at North Clayton High School. The board voted to bar her from a December meeting, not reimburse her for expenses associated with conferences and keep her from holding the chair or vice-chair position until November 2013.

Goree said she was not allowed to present witnesses on her own behalf at the hearing where she was censured.

“I didn’t have my due process,” she said. “That’s why I’m doing this. I don’t like the negative publicity, the board always getting negative press, but I want to clear my name.”

Goree wants the opportunity to appeal the board’s decision to the Georgia Department of Education or have a hearing where she is allowed to present evidence.

Humphrey said the goal is to avoid a trial.

“We want to ask for a conference to resolve this without going to trial,” he said. “Procedurally, they can’t ignore this. They have to do something for the process to continue.”

Goree, who carries a well-worn Bible chockful of clippings and scrap pieces of paper, said her reputation is important to her.

"If I was that type of person, I would be running unopposed," she said. "I definitely don't want this conflict and I am ready to move on. But first and foremost, I want my name cleared."