Tom Wood and Scott Carlton lawsuit

Pictured (from left) Tom Wood and Scott Carlton await the verdict in their lawsuit against the school board in September 2016. The North Carolina Supreme Court denied the school board's request for a review of the state Court of Appeals decision in 2018.

The highest court in the state has shot down Burke County Board of Education’s hopes of getting out of paying two local men $250,000 each after they won a lawsuit against the school system in 2016.

On Oct. 1, the North Carolina Supreme Court denied the school system’s petition for the court to review a 2018 decision from the state Court of Appeals in the case of Wood and Carlton v. Burke County Board of Education. The order from the Supreme Court was filed in Burke County on Oct. 9. The original lawsuit against the school system was filed in Burke County Superior Court in July 2014.

On Nov. 6, the North Carolina Court of Appeals upheld a lower court decision that awarded Tom Wood and Scott Carlton $250,000 each after they sued the school system for negligence and invasion of privacy. Wood and Carlton originally sued for $10 million. The Court of Appeals also found the lower court acted properly by denying the school system a new trial.

A statement from the Burke County school system emailed to The News Herald on Monday said, in part, “The current Burke County Board of Education and current Administration respects the decision of the court.”

Wood and Carlton filed suit against the board in 2014 after they both were sued by Amy Morgan for defamation. As part of her suit, Morgan used a packet of material that Wood and Carlton had presented to the board, which cited Morgan’s incompetence and an alleged affair with Art Stellar, who was the school superintendent at the time.

The lawsuit from the two men was filed July 29, 2014, and said Wood appeared in front of the school board in closed session to bring a highly confidential matter to the board’s attention. The board chair asked that it be submitted in writing and indicated the matter would remain confidential, the lawsuit said.

Wood and Carlton said they thought the information would remain confidential and were shocked to find they were being sued.

Morgan’s lawsuit eventually was dismissed, but Wood and Carlton both claimed to have suffered humiliation and ongoing stress because of the incident, which they said was directly related to the board’s negligence.

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Sharon McBrayer is a staff writer and can be reached at smcbrayer@morganton.com or at 828-432-8946.

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