ELYRIA — A Lorain County Joint Vocational School board member obtained a civil stalking protection order against fellow board member Ayers Ratliff after he allegedly made threatening statements toward her at her place of employment.
Annie Carstarphen, who also serves on the Elyria school board, filed for the order Tuesday, the day after Ratliff told one of her coworkers at the Lorain County Auditor’s Office that Carstarphen “should be shot,” according to court documents.
“There were some statements made by Mr. Ratliff, directed toward Annie,” Lorain County Auditor Craig Snodgrass said. “I don’t know that she was standing there when he made them, but he said them to another one of the employees at the front counter.”
A witness statement was filled out for the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office by the employee to whom Ratliff made the comments.
Snodgrass said Ratliff was in the office Monday to pick up some documents.
According to the witness statement filled out by Laurie Figueroa, while Ratliff was waiting at the counter for his documents, Carstarphen walked through the room. Ratliff told Figueroa that Carstarphen was on the JVS school board, to which Figueroa said she was aware of the fact, the statement said.
“He said, ‘I’m not a fan of her,’ and then, ‘I don’t know how she got on the board. She needs to be shot, but I won’t do it,’” Figueroa’s statement said.
Ratliff then told Figueroa that Carstarphen and Lorain County JVS Superintendent Glenn Faircloth are “very close.” Figueroa told Ratliff she “didn’t even know Mr. Faircloth,” the statement said. Ratliff then “motioned crossed fingers,” which Figueroa said in the statement she took to mean Faircloth and Carstarphen “were very close.”
Figueroa wrote that the situation made her feel “very uncomfortable.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Carstarphen filed for the protection order at Lorain County Common Pleas Court, according to court documents. In the filing, Carstarphen said, “I am fearful of this man. He has harassed many other board members. He actually suggested that I be shot.”
The protection order was granted by Magistrate Linda Butler and stipulates that Ratliff must stay at least 500 feet away from Carstarphen, but there is a provision that allows Ratliff to attend any scheduled JVS school board meetings. The order is in effect until Oct. 29, when a hearing on the matter is scheduled.
Carstarphen declined to comment Thursday on the incident, as did JVS school board President Debbi Melda and Faircloth. Ratliff didn’t return calls requesting comment.
Ratliff has been at odds with other members of the JVS school board before. He has been a vocal opponent of the district’s proposed 0.75-mill permanent improvement levy that will be on the Nov. 6 ballot, saying the district is seeking too much money and has sent letters to elected officials in opposition to the levy.
Earlier this year, the school board voted to censure Ratliff after accusing him of disrespecting his fellow board members, making racist remarks, making remarks to female staff members that could be seen as sexual harassment and relaying sensitive information from an executive session.
Last year, Ratliff was the only dissenting vote when the board voted to approve a new contract for Faircloth that included a raise in salary. Faircloth has told The Chronicle-Telegram he believes Ratliff, who is white, has a problem with him because he’s black.
Both board members attended the JVS school board meeting Thursday night without incident or mentioning of the protection order.
Ratliff said the entire exchange was false and said the accusation was related to him being outspoken about going against the JVS levy.
“What she said is a total fabrication. I realize that I’m the lone wolf in trying to get out to the public the levy that’s so exorbitant at the JVS, the $4.5 million every year and it never ends,” he said. “And I can now see that it would go to any end to try and stifle people that try to inform the voter concerning facts about issues that involve their tax dollars.”
“It is not true, and I am just really tired of being dragged down because I’m trying to do what I should as an elected official and get out the word to the taxpayer concerning the JVS levy that’s going to be voted on Nov. 6.”
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