GOSHEN, KY (WAVE) - A landmark fight to keep out of county students out of its classrooms has left the Oldham County Public School system facing a legal battle of its own. A homeowner caught in the middle is suing Oldham County Schools for slandering her name. Donna Claggett is speaking exclusively with WAVE 3 Troubleshooter Eric Flack to explain why.
Claggett claims the Oldham County Public School System pushed forward with the criminal case against her while ignoring key facts and never getting her side of the story.
"It's been a nightmare," Claggett said.
The owner of the Skylight Country Store in Goshen is getting some hard lessons in crime and punishment.
"My business is in the heart of the school district that is accusing me," she said.
Claggett said damage done to her reputation by the Oldham County Public School system is at the heart of the defamation lawsuit she has now filed against the district.
"I was done wrong," Claggett said. "How can somebody go on what they had, and no more than what they had, and file criminal charges?"
In August 2011, Claggett was charged with felony theft for helping to defraud the school system. Assistant Superintendent Dan Orman told county prosecutors his investigation found she let Louisville resident Charles Lauron use her Oldham County address to establish residency for years so his son could attend school there.
A key piece of evidence was this residency affidavit Lauron turned into the school district. A document Claggett said was forged. Her name is misspelled in two places. School district spokesperson Anne Coorssen revealed Orman knew Claggett's name was misspelled on the affidavit but decided to refer the case to the county attorney's office anyway.
"You know it was kind of a question mark," Coorssen said of the misspelled affidavit. She added that the school system passes on all information to Oldham County Attorney's Office and lets the County Attorney make the decision on charges.
"We present all the information to the prosecution," said Coorssen.
They also gave prosecutors a note Claggett signed in 2004 stating Lauron planned to rent a room in her home. Claggett said Lauron never actually moved in, and claims she had no idea he used the note as proof of school residency because it didn't mention his son.
But Coorssen said school mail sent to Claggett's home was never returned.
"Ms. Claggett never called the board or the school to say I don't know why I'm getting this mail these people don't live here," Coorssen said.
Claggett said she thought her address was mistakenly in the system from when Lauron planned to move in back in 2004. Claggett said she would have explained all this to Orman, but he didn't speak with her before the charges were filed.
"I left messages on his cell phone," Claggett said. "I left messages when I called him the next day."
Claggett showed us phone records to prove it, and claims she told Orman he could reach her at her store. Instead, Coorssen said Orman went to Claggett's home on three consecutive mornings but never found her. After that Orman said a county prosecutor told him to stop trying to make contact and charges were filed against Claggett days later.
A grand jury dismissed those charges in February 2012 for lack of evidence.
The Oldham County Attorney's Office had no comment. The school system said part of the reason they didn't do more to question that misspelled affidavit was because it was notarized by PNC Bank. Claggett is suing PNC Bank as well alleging negligence for notarizing a document she says she didn't sign.
A spokesman said PNC Bank does not comment on pending litigation.
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