Another chance at compensation
Incoming Senate Minority Leader Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee, says he will file a claims bill today on behalf of a North Florida woman who charges that the state Department of Education discriminated against her and her faith-based company because she's an evangelical Christian.
"She deserves restitution," Lawson told The Gradebook, referring to Karen "Kay" Stripling, who hails from Marianna in Lawson's district. "The government should not destroy people's lives and their job and their income simply because it appears somebody in the department didn't like her and accused her falsely."
Lawson said the claim is for about $3 million. A similar bill, for $2.7 million, was filed last year by Sen. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, but later withdrawn. Lawson says the House companion bill will be filed today by Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City.
Stripling says in a pending lawsuit filed that DOE employees targeted her and her company, Read & Lead, because they were on a "Bush witch hunt" of faith-based providers in 2003 and 2004. According to the suit, they told state and federal investigators that she mishandled federal money, which led to a federal probe and the threat of indictment.
- Ron Matus, state education reporter