Lexington-Richland 5

SC Supreme Court rules for former Lexington-Richland 5 board member

tflach@thestate.comJune 13, 2013 

Kim Murphy

  • Reaction to ruling

    Lexington-Richand 5 School District

    Lexington-Richland 5 spokesman Mark Bounds

    "While the District did not initiate the legal action. We are thankful for the community members that stood up in support of our students. Their actions removed a significant barrier to making desperately needed infrastructure improvements in the District. Our community and students deserve excellent schools. We are excited about the construction at Chapin High School and can't wait until all of the renovations are completed."

    Kim Murphy

    "This, just like the District lawsuit against me and the District s attempt to kick me off the school board, represents the District's efforts to play hard ball against those who express dissenting views and muzzle people who ask too many questions.

    "This ruling is great news for the student parents taxpayers of District 5. I'm happy I won and regret that a former student was used as a pawn in the board's attempt to bully me for exercising my legal rights."

    Statement issued by Murphy's lawyers Jay Bender and Katie Parham

    "Our client is extremely gratified by the state Supreme Court's decision. We've said from the very beginning that this was a foolish lawsuit and that the Plaintiffs' claims were without merit. The Supreme Court has made it clear that the Plaintiffs don't have the right to pursue this action. This lawsuit was just another example of bullying by some members of the District 5 community. This time justice prevailed."

    Comment from Bill Wolfe, chairman of D5 Citizens Ensuring the Implementation of the Referendum

    "We certainly respect the decision of the Supreme Court; however, this lawsuit brought by a group of citizens in Chapin, was always focused on the needs of the students. The result, with overwhelming support from the community, was a win for the entire community of School District 5. The initial ruling by Judge Manning resulted in a Temporary Restraining Order against Mrs. Murphy which prohibited her from filing any new litigation opposing the construction on Chapin High School, the CATE center, and Spring Hill High school. Without that ruling, Mrs. Murphy could have continued filing additional frivolous and costly lawsuits in an attempt to block the much-needed classroom improvements and new schools. We hope new legislation can prevent this from happening to us and other school districts in the future, thus protecting taxpayers and students."

A group of Lexington-Richland 5 residents lost its bid to prevent a one-time board member from initiating legal challenges to decisions she opposed while on the school board.

The group’s effort ended when the S.C. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that it failed to show how its members were affected adversely by what former board member Kim Murphy did.

That decision overturned a 2-year-old ban stopping Murphy from launching challenges while she was a board member.

Both sides claimed victory after the ruling.

“They haven’t silenced me,” Murphy said Thursday.

The battle was part of an effort “to play hard ball against those who express dissenting views and muzzle people who ask too many questions,” she said.

Her lawyers, Jay Bender and Katie Parham, sounded a similar theme, saying in a statement that the attempt to limit Murphy’s ability to challenge projects is “another example of bullying by some members of the District 5 community.”

But Murphy’s critics said the temporary halt was “a win for the entire community” because it allowed all school improvements authorized by voters in 2008 to proceed without further interruption, said Bill Wolfe, chairman of the group known as D5 Citizens Ensuring the Implementation of the Referendum.

Lexington-Richland 5 officials also thanked the group, saying their actions “removed a significant barrier to making desperately needed infrastructure improvements,” school spokesman Mark Bounds said.

Members of the group were upset that Murphy’s efforts stalled $45.9 million in renovations at Chapin High, a project now under way after she lost other legal battles.

Murphy is free to resume questioning future improvements.

Other school board members ousted her earlier this year from a post as a Richland County member of the panel to which she was elected in November 2010, after questions arose about her residency.

Her removal came after state geographers said her home in the Chapin area is just inside Lexington County instead of Richland County as long thought.

Murphy, a Tea Party favorite, often was at odds with the other six board members on spending and management of schools that are home to 16,000 students in the Irmo, Chapin, Dutch Fork, Harbison and St. Andrews areas.

She is appealing the ouster.

Ruling: Stroud & D5 Citizens v Kim Murphy by thestate

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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