The Crusader Newspaper Group

Pruitt dismisses order of protection against Tolliver

Crusader staff report

One day before the case was to go to court, Gary School Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt had her Order for Protection dismissed against School Board member Carlos Tolliver, ending a nearly two-month battle that escalated tensions at the troubled school system.

Court documents obtained by the Crusader show Pruitt filed a written request to dismiss the Order for Protection on April 11. The order was filed on February 22 after Pruitt said she feared for her life after two incidents where she accused Tolliver of threatening her.

Carlos Tolliver Photo1 e1473366801242
Carlos Tolliver

The Order of Protection was dismissed one day before a hearing was to take place on April 12 before Judge John R. Pera at the Lake Superior Court. That’s where Tolliver’s attorney, Darnail Lyles, aimed to have the case dismissed saying Tolliver’s speech was protected by the First Amendment. But as Lyles and his client were preparing for court, Pruitt had her attorney dismiss the case. The reasons for the dismissal are not listed on court documents, but Pruitt released a statement to the Crusader.

“I believe that it is in the best interest of the thousands of children we serve, my Gary Community School Corporation family, and the Gary community, to focus on educating our children,” Pruitt said. “I am totally committed to our students and expect to return focused on a shared vision that will catapult this district to the next level.”

According to the press release, Pruitt said, “she hopes to concentrate forums around a high level of passion and respect that defined the community throughout the past century.” The press release also states that Pruitt “reserves the right to file another action if the threatening, harassing conduct continues.”

Tolliver—an outspoken board member who some call a watchdog who speaks out against wasteful spending—has been unable to attend school board meetings because of the stay-away order.

The dismissal comes as the Gary School Board waits to learn its fate as state lawmakers consider a bill that will allow the state to seize academic and financial control of a school district that’s mired in debt and low academic achievement.

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