MOOREFIELD – A woman is suing Hardy County Board of Education after she claims her employment was wrongfully suspended without a proper investigation.
Barbara Whitecotton, the superintendent of Hardy County Schools; and Sheena Van Meter, also were named as defendants in the suit.
On Jan. 9, 2016, Jodie Long, along with several other women, participated in an event known as the “Chick Feed” in Moorefield and, following the event, several photos from the event were posted on social media to Long’s Facebook page by another user, according to a complaint filed March 20 in Hardy Circuit Court.
Long claims Moorefield Chief of Police Steve Reckart received several complaints about underage drinking at the Chick Feed event and the complaints came from employees of the Hardy County Board of Education.
After receiving the complaints, Reckart had one of his employees review the Facebook pictures and determined that there were two individuals present in the pictures who were under the age of 21 and were drinking, according to the suit.
Long claims Reckart contacted Whitecotton about the possibility that there were underage drinkers at the Chick Feed and Reckart provided Whitecotton with the pictures his office had printed, as well as informing her of the fact that he believed there were two underage drinkers present.
Whitecotton took no action initially and she received complaints about the pictures from Van Meter stating that the teachers at the school were upset about the pictures, according to the suit.
Long claims Van Meter told her employees that the pictures being posted on Long’s Facebook violated Hardy County Code of Conduct and Whitecotton later determined that Long had violated the school’s code of conduct.
Whitecotton’s decision to suspend Long was based on the fact that people in the school complained about the posting and there was general upheaval in the school system due to the posting, according to the suit. Whitecotton also accused Long of allowing a minor to attend the Chick Feed without any evidence supporting the allegation.
Long claims Whitecotton failed to conduct a proper investigation into whether Long and another employee had violated the Hardy County Honor Code and, without proof, she was punished.
The defendants’ actions adversely affected the plaintiff’s gymnastics company, according to the suit.
Long claims the defendants caused her intentional infliction of emotional distress and caused her humiliation; annoyance and inconvenience; degradation and mortification; invasion of privacy; her personal dignity was affronted; emotional pain and suffering; and lost income.
Long is seeking compensatory damages. She is being represented by Mark W. Carbone and Jeffrey G. Blaydes of Carbone & Blaydes.
Hardy Circuit Court case number: 17-C-9