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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Through the looking glass and into DOE



How can Jeb Bush, DOE, the FBI, intelligent design and religious discrimination all find its way into the same story? Through this lawsuit recently filed in a Leon County circuit court.

Kay_stripling42 As the St. Petersburg Times reported this morning, North Florida resident Karen "Kay" Stripling (on the left) filed suit after the DOE refused to pay her more than $200,000 for work she did helping high school dropouts obtain GEDs. According to the suit, DOE employees told state and federal investigators that Stripling mishandled federal money, which resulted in her being targeted in a federal investigation; threatened with indictment; and forced to spend her life savings to clear her name.

Where does religion come in? Stripling is an evangelical Christian who describes her company, Read & Lead – which relied on churches to refer students and provide classroom space - as "faith-based." The suit says DOE employees were gunning for faith-based companies in a "Bush witch hunt" (Bush, meaning Jeb Bush, and meaning companies that got their foot in the door because Jeb, following in the footsteps of his brother, paved the way for such companies to get government contracts.)

It also says that, thanks to a public records request this past February, Stripling found that DOE employees had inserted newspaper clippings in her file that, among other things, panned Bush's voucher program; lauded courses teaching homosexuality; and mocked intelligent design as teaching that "a thingy that may look like Santa Claus spent seven days creating everything you see."

Can there really be something to all this? In a January letter to then DOE general counsel Daniel Woodring, Stripling's lawyer, Ken Sukhia, writes, "One could not fall through the looking glass and find a more outlandish sequence of events." And interestingly enough, the FBI says the stuff in Stripling's suit is now part of a "wider investigation."

- Ron Matus, state education reporter

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:20am]


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