A civil case against the Fayette County Public Schools brought by former Booker T. Washington Academy principal Peggy Petrilli apparently will go to the jury Tuesday.
Booker T. Washington parent Alva Clark, potentially the last witness heard in the case, will be on the stand for cross-examination by Petrilli's attorney Tuesday morning. The case will be submitted to the jury sometime after that.
Circuit Judge James Ishmael had hoped to wrap up all testimony on Monday. But late Monday afternoon he said he would allow jurors to rest overnight before they hear Clark's cross-examination and receive the case.
Earlier Monday, Ishmael sustained a motion by the defense for a directed verdict, rejecting Petrilli's claims that her constitutional rights were violated in the case. However, Ishmael let other claims in her civil lawsuit stand.
Petrilli alleges that Fayette Schools Superintendent Stu Silberman forced her to resign as principal of Booker T. Washington in August 2007 to placate parents who ostensibly had demanded that he replace her with an African-American. Petrilli also contends that Alva Clark, her husband William "Buddy" Clark, and Jessica Berry were the parents who orchestrated the campaign against her.
On Monday, however, Alva Clark insisted that she never sought Petrilli's dismissal.
"I personally did not want her to be fired," Clark said on direct examination by Silberman's attorney John McNeil.
Clark maintained that a meeting the parents had with Silberman on Aug. 22, 2007, was not to demand that Petrilli be fired, but instead was intended to "figure out how we maybe could resolve some things."
Parents gave Silberman a 21/2-page list of complaints about Petrilli at that meeting. Petrilli resigned a few days later.
In other developments Monday, Petrilli's former supervisor, Lisa Stone, offered more testimony about Petrilli's supposed administrative failings. School district officials testified last week that Petrilli was a strong instructional leader, but made repeated and sometimes serious administrative errors.
But Petrilli's attorney, J. Dale Golden, sharply questioned why Stone didn't list such shortcomings on Petrilli's 2005 job evaluation, which showed Petrilli meeting all five standards required of a principal.
Stone admitted that she chose not to prepare a formal "corrective action plan" for Petrilli, which would have listed problems and steps to correct them. Stone said she wanted instead to maintain a "positive relationship" with Petrilli.
"I felt like I could give guidance ... and she would get better," Stone said.