“This decision is not a final ruling, nor does it in any measure address the falsity of Pruden’s statements.”
Statement on 1/17/17 Court of Appeals decision in Mitchell v. Pruden:
With all due respect, we submit that the NC Court of Appeals (COA) has erred in finding that “public official immunity” law applies to Edward Pruden, former superintendent of Brunswick County Schools, to shield his liability for false and defamatory statements about Baker Mitchell and The Roger Bacon Academy (RBA). This decision is not a final ruling, nor does it in any measure address the falsity of Pruden’s statements. Recently obtained documents reveal activity against and malice toward Mitchell by Pruden, as well as questionable sworn testimony by Pruden. Today’s ruling was made without the Court’s knowledge of pages and pages of correspondence between Pruden and others at his direction to the media during his campaign against Mitchell and RBA.
In 2015, RBA and Baker Mitchell directed their attorneys to file suit against former Brunswick County Superintendent Edward Pruden due to numerous false, malicious, and defamatory statements that Pruden submitted to state and national media after a year-long unsuccessful campaign to prevent the approval of a local charter school.
In sworn testimony last year, Pruden admitted he did not review financial records and other documents about which he publicly distributed false claims. Though Pruden claims he was acting on behalf of the Brunswick County Board of Education and did not initiate sharing information with the media, recently discovered documents suggest that Pruden’s actions were not approved by the Board and Pruden was making an effort to publicize his crusade against Mitchell and RBA without the Board’s knowledge. Previously undisclosed evidence suggests Pruden corresponded or met with various journalists which resulted in unfair, inaccurate and damaging articles about Mitchell to be published by national media outlets in addition to dozens of local media articles.
We have requested that our attorneys evaluate the ruling and provide guidance on which of several options should be exercised to protect our legal rights in the justice system.
Mitchell and his company, RBA, provide educational management services to public charter schools, including two in Brunswick County where Pruden was Superintendent. It is unfortunate that the actions of one man who made no attempt to substantiate his ‘concerns’ affected many people including the families of the 2,000 local students that RBA serves. The Mitchell family and RBA look forward to publicly clearing their names.