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Cuba board seeks to bar plaintiffs

BY LAUREN P. DUNCAN lduncan@paducahsun.com

On the same day a Franklin Circuit Court judge allowed the Graves County Board of Education to move items out of Cuba Elementary School, the board also sought an order against the plaintiffs to cease and desist activity on the school grounds.

Josh Cherry, Richard Jackson, William Bell and Larry Dale Shelby sued the board earlier this year regarding the closing process of Cuba, which the district's Superintendent Kim Harrison has stated can save the district about $274,000 a year in operating costs. Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd granted a temporary injunction against the planned auction of the school and its property in June.

On Wednesday, Shepherd entered an order to allow specific items to be moved from Cuba to four other Graves County schools in preparation for the upcoming school year. While the judge has yet to rule on whether the board can sell Cuba Elementary School, it can move Cuba students to other schools when classes start Aug. 6.

The judge's order on Wednesday states the district can move supplies to four schools: Symsonia, Sedalia, Wingo and Farmington.

Also on Wednesday, plaintiff Richard Jackson said he entered the school, where other people were moving things, and saw supplies with labels including Lowes, Central Elementary, and the high school, he said.

Harrison said Thursday the only items that had been removed were those on the judge's order.

"The only things that were moved today are the things that we need to start school and technology that was going to another school," Harrison said Thursday. "Those are just surplus items ... they were not touched and they're still there."

The Save Cuba School committee members said they know the district can label items for future moving, but they're concerned items will go other than where the judge ordered.

"We're trying to save the community, we're trying to keep the school in the community," Bell said.

Jackson submitted an affidavit to the court Wednesday that explained he was at the school, where he saw items listed other than Tuesday's court order labeled with other school names.

The board then entered a motion Wednesday that requests the plaintiffs "cease and desist objectional actions." The motion states Jackson, along with Wilma and Larry Spicer, trespassed onto the Cuba school premises, took photographs and confronted a teacher who was moving items while on maternity leave.

"The plaintiffs and their agents' actions were inexcusable, irresponsible and dangerous and they should be restrained from any further such actions during pendency of this matter," the motion states.

Jackson said he did not speak to any teachers while at the school to take photographs. He said he thinks someone is "bareface lying." The other committee members said they feel like they're being "made out to be the bad guys."

The committee members said the school board's attorney sent an email Thursday morning stating the plaintiffs were circling the school property, but all four said they were nowhere near Cuba School Thursday morning.

An email from the plaintiffs' attorney to the Save Cuba School committee members Thursday states Shepherd said in a meeting Thursday that he did not need to rule on the cease and desist motion and that it did not need to be before him, but that the attorneys should tell their clients to be respectful of each other. It also states the school board attorney David Hargrove said Jackson actually did not confront a teacher while at the school.

On Tuesday, the Graves County Board of Education entered appearance of new co-counsel, W. Terry McBrayer, Stephen G. Amato, David J. Guarnieri and the firm McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie & Kirkland, PLLC. Harrison said the board did not vote to hire the counsel, but that they were retained by Hargrove. Hargrove did not return a phone call Thursday.

Contact Lauren Duncan, Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8692 or follow @laurenpduncan on Twitter.

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