Former School Board Member Sues Landmark -- and Editorial Page Editor

By: (AP) A former member of the Virginia Beach School Board is seeking five million dollars in a defamation lawsuit against Landmark Communications -- parent company of The Virginian-Pilot -- and the newspaper's editorial page editor.

Timmy Jackson's lawsuit focuses on a November 2003 editorial written by Dennis Hartig. The editorial endorsed Jackson's opponent in a House of Delegates race.

The lawsuit contends the editorial defamed Jackson by saying, "It was on his watch that the schools went millions of dollars in the red, a disaster that took years to overcome."

Jackson served one term on the board, from 1994 to 1998. In 1995, the board was notified it was operating at a deficit of more than 12 million dollars.

A special grand jury that investigated the deficit called for seven School Board members to resign or face criminal charges.

Jackson said he was not a board member when the budget was approved. A jury acquitted him and another board member.

Hartig could not be reached for comment. The Pilot's lawyer declined to comment.


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