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PTA Leader Thrown Out of School Board Meeting Seeks $15 Million

September 26, 1985|PATRICIA LOPEZ | Times Staff Writer

A woman who says she suffered "numerous injuries" when she was forcibly removed from an Inglewood school board meeting in June has filed claims for more than $15 million against the school district and other government agencies.

Zyra McCloud, 36, president of the Inglewood Council of PTA, charges in claims filed last week that security guards used excessive force when they carried her out of a board meeting June 10. McCloud's attorney, Eric Gordon, said she has been in physical therapy for nearly three months as a result of injuries suffered that night, including head injuries, severe bruises, headaches and a sprained back, neck and ankle.

In addition, McCloud is claiming that the board violated her constitutional and civil rights when it refused to allow her to speak at the meeting. In her claim, she asks that the board agree not to restrict freedom of speech and not to employ excessive force to remove audience members.

Dorn Ordered Ejection

School board President William Dorn, who ordered McCloud's removal that night, declined to comment on the allegations. He said school administrators have not notified him of any claims by McCloud. Administrators also declined to comment, as did McCloud.

The incident occurred at the height of a controversy surrounding the ouster in May of district Supt. Rex Fortune. A board majority, led by Dorn, had fired Fortune on charges that included insubordination. Those charges were dropped in July and the superintendent was reinstated. McCloud was among those calling for Fortune's reinstatement and Dorn's recall from office.

At the June meeting, after a presentation to the board recognizing those who contributed to a district program that Fortune had helped originate, McCloud stood up to ask why the fired superintendent's name had been left out.

Dorn, who had warned the densely packed crowd that he would not tolerate interruptions, ordered security guards to remove McCloud. As the guards closed in on her, the 5-foot, 6-inch, 125-pound McCloud wrapped one leg around a leg of her chair and screamed, "Don't touch me!" Four male guards then dragged her out of the chair, which dangled from her ankle, and carried her out by the arms and legs.

Incident Televised

Because of the controversy stirred by Fortune's firing, television crews from KABC were there and caught most of the incident on videotape. Attorney Gordon said he had an edited version of the tape.

In her claims, McCloud also accused the guards of "banging" her head against the walls as they carried her through the hallway, dropping her on the concrete walk outside district headquarters, and keeping her pinned to the ground until the arrival of paramedics. The paramedics were apparently called by witnesses. McCloud was taken to Centinela Hospital Medical Center. Gordon said McCloud has filed claims against the school district, the Inglewood Police Department, the city of Inglewood, the state Board of Education, Los Angeles County, the city of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Police Department and the state of California. The Inglewood and Los Angeles police departments have been included in the claims, he said, because officers at the meeting failed to prevent the guards from using excessive force to remove McCloud. Gordon said the other government entities are involved because district board members act as their representatives.

According to state law, complainants must file claims against governmental agencies before they can file a lawsuit. The agencies have 45 days in which to respond. Gordon said that if the claims are not settled, McCloud will be able to file lawsuits against the agencies.

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