Murphy claims she was targeted for removal from Lexington-Richland 5 School Board

08/04/2014 9:11 PM

08/04/2014 9:12 PM

Former Lexington-Richland 5 School Board member Kim Murphy claims other panel members targeted her for ouster out of animosity over her steady challenges to school renovations.

The allegation comes in a lawsuit seeking unspecified damages from the other six board members and state geographers for defamation.

Murphy’s removal in March 2013 for alleged nonresidency in Richland County – required for the post she held – was the culmination of “a scheme” to discredit her, the lawsuit says.

School attorney John Reagle declined comment other that to say that where Murphy lives “is a matter of fact, not opinion, defamation or conspiracy, and the board acted properly.”

The new complaint about her ouster – the latest in a series of legal disputes between Murphy and school officials – comes as she prepares to try to recover the post at the Nov. 4 ballot.

That effort is “severely hindered” due to the fuss over her residency, the lawsuit said.

Her ouster concluded a campaign against Murphy in which some board members encouraged public scoldings of her by residents who said they were upset with delays that her challenges caused, her lawsuit said.

“These attacks far exceed the threshold of typical or acceptable criticism of public figures,” it said.

Murphy was berated often by families upset with her unsuccessful legal battle that delayed improvements at Chapin High for 18 months.

Other board members “conspired together to allow such attacks to continue,” her lawsuit said.

The post Murphy held is vacant pending the outcome of a challenge she made to her removal.

Uncertainty about the location of her home abutting county borders came after political foes raised questions following the battle over Chapin High.

Murphy’s ouster came after state geographers – asked to look into the situation – concluded her home in the Chapin area is just inside Lexington County, not Richland County as long thought and as required for the post to which she was elected in 2010.

Supporters say she is the victim of mistakes by county officials, but an independent legal review ordered by the board said such errors didn’t make her eligible to remain in the post.

The claim of nonresidency is based on “an incomplete and cursory review” far short of a thorough survey of property lines, Murphy’s new lawsuit said.

Murphy says she and her family continue to vote in Richland County despite the board’s decision.

A Tea Party favorite, she crusades against what she considers overspending and mismanagement of classrooms with 16,000 students in Chapin, Irmo, Dutch Fork, Harbison and St. Andrews that are among the best in South Carolina.

Those efforts put her at odds with other board members, who deny her ouster was a political vendetta as claimed by conservative groups.

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