Preliminary injunction held in AEA lawsuit

Published 9:22 am Friday, June 3, 2022

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By JOYANNA LOVE | Managing Editor

A preliminary injunction was held on May 31 in the Alabama Education Association lawsuit against Chilton County Schools Superintendent Jason Griffin.

An order was made by Judge Sibley Reynolds removing a temporary restraining order prohibiting further action by Griffin to collect overpayment of wages to Verbena High School lunchroom manager Christie Payne and LeCroy Career Technical Center nursing instructor Shellie Smith.

However, Reynolds also required that Griffin “is to take no action toward any party herein as to stopping their salary or reducing their salary, pending the final outcome of this litigation.”

Although the members of the Chilton County Board of Education have been issued subpoenas as a part of the case, they are not named in the lawsuit. Subpoenas were served on May 30, and the proof of this was filed on June 2.

During a press conference on May 20, AEA Associate Executive Director Theron Stokes said Payne and Smith have each received a letter signed by Griffin stating that they were overpaid thousands of dollars because they were paid for years of service in one position when they moved to another.

There was no record of the board approving the letters about repayment being sent.

Therefore, “he is acting without the authority of the school board in this situation,” Stokes said.

According to court documentation, Attorney Dianne Gamble of Hill, Hill and Carter Law Firm, who is representing Griffin, had filed an opposition to the preliminary injunction request stating that Payne and Smith could not prove that the case met the legal requirements for a preliminary injunction.

The judge denied this opposition.

According to court documents, Payne was told she owes $23,465.40 stemming from a position change in 2016, and Smith was told she owes $32,948 stemming from a position change in 2018.