Metro-East News

Columbia Police chief’s ex-wife drops lawsuit against school district

Former Columbia Police Chief Joe Edwards.
Former Columbia Police Chief Joe Edwards.

The ex-wife of Columbia’s former police chief dropped a lawsuit against her employer, the Columbia School District, that alleged school employees illegally snooped on her phone conversations.

Carla Edwards sued Columbia Community School District 4 and unnamed employees in November.

Russ Watters, Edwards’ attorney, said the suit may be refiled.

The suit alleged there were transcripts of her private phone conversations that were distributed to school district employees to “disparage the reputation of (Edwards) and affect her employment and family life.”

Those employees threatened her job, the suit alleged. Edwards has worked as a teacher’s aide since 2009.

Carla Edwards, through her attorney, asked that the case be dismissed.

“We expected the judge to approve her request,” District 4 Superintendent Gina Segobiano said in a written statement. “It is clear that our school district employees did not violate any state or federal laws and that Ms. Edwards’ lawsuit was filed without any basis in fact or law. At no time did any administrator or staff member access, search or download any private message from a ... personal cell phone.”

Edwards alleged that her former husband, then-Police Chief Joe Edwards, gathered the information on a thumb drive and, while in uniform, gave it to school district employees.

The school district’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit and submitted compelling evidence with its motion to demonstrate that district employees did not get any phone records from Edwards’ cell phone, according to Segobiana, the superintendent.

Barney Mundorf, the district’s attorney, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Carla Edwards also alleged that a false report was made to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. The Edwardses have two children. The couple divorced on Oct. 24, 2014, but continue to battle over custody of the children.

An investigation by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department caused Joe Edwards to retire on April 30. Under an agreement with the city, Edwards was paid $40,000 in unused comp and vacation time. The city agreed it would only give prospective employers a copy of his letter announcing his retirement, a copy of his personnel file, dates of employment and position held with the city.

Carla Edwards received $150,000 in a settlement with the city of Columbia.

Beth Hundsdorfer: 618-239-2570, @bhundsdorfer