Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

January 29, 2014

Former principal, coach sues Carter school system

By Kenneth Hart - CNHI News Service

Jan. 29, 2014 — A former Carter County high school principal and basketball coach has filed a lawsuit against the school system in which he alleges he was wrongfully terminated.

In the suit, filed Monday in Carter Circuit Court, Jim Webb claims he was let go from his position as the district’s maintenance director last spring because of age discrimination, and that his firing was done in violation of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act.

The suit names as defendant Carter School Superintendent Ronnie Dotson and the board of education. It seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, court costs and attorney fees, a jury trial and a court order directing the district to reinstate Webb.

According to the suit, Webb — a former principal and boys’ basketball coach at West Carter High School — was employed by the school system from 1974 until his retirement in 2004. However, the following year, he was rehired as the district’s construction supervisor and then as maintenance director.

In April of last year, the suit states, Webb was terminated based on claims he had engaged in acts of “dishonesty” and “insubordination.”  Those charges stemmed from Webb allegedly gaining prohibited access to the district’s fuel pumps by using an unauthorized key.

However, “The stated reason for (Webb’s) termination was not the actual reason he was terminated” and was “insufficient to explain” why the board chose to fire Webb, the suit states.

The suit alleges that other district employees “under the age of 40 or ... significantly younger” than Webb engaged in the same or similar conduct of which Webb was accused without any reprisals.

The district committed age discrimination against Webb — who was 64 at the time of his firing — “by terminating his employment and by subjecting him to sanction for the same or similar conduct committed by significantly younger employees, who faced no adverse employment or disciplinary action of any kind,” the suit states.

The complaint also states Webb was a member of a “protective class” because of his age and was replaced by a person outside the class who was “significantly younger” than him.

The suit, filed by attorney Reid Glass of Grayson, also seeks punitive damages against Dotson for slander stemming from remarks the superintendent allegedly made to other school officials that Webb claims indicated he was being replaced for poor job performance, “which is false and misleading.”

Glass also argues his client is entitled to damages for psychological and emotional distress for having his privacy invaded and being cast in a false light by Dotson’s alleged remarks.

Claims made in civil lawsuits state only one side of an issue. Under Kentucky law, defendants have 20 days from the date they are served to file responses to complaints.

Kenneth Hart can be reached at or(606) 326-2654.