Class action lawsuit filed on behalf of private school students whose identities were allegedly stolen

Updated: Apr. 13, 2021 at 7:38 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Did the former Athens City Schools Superintendent have all the power he wanted, and was no one holding him accountable?

That is what two Huntsville attorneys want to know. They argue Trey Holladay purposely schemed private school students and their parents out of millions of dollars for his own personal gain.

Holladay, along with the others named in a federal indictment, are also facing a class action lawsuit for their alleged involvement in the multi-year, multi-million-dollar scheme that used your tax dollars.

Six state educators are accused of defrauding the United States government for personal gain.

Three have plead guilty to the crime. The other three, including Trey Holladay, pleaded not guilty and will go to trial in September.

On Tuesday, a class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of all the students whose identities were allegedly stolen.

The six educators are accused of enrolling private school students in virtual schools and getting your tax dollars.

February’s federal indictment claims former Athens City School Superintendent, Trey Holladay, and his wife Deborah were the masterminds behind the plan.

Also charged is the current executive director of Planning Rick Carter, who is on administrative leave.

Former Limestone County Schools Superintendent Tom Sisk and two other state educators pleaded guilty last week.

The attorneys argue private schools’ students all had their personal information exposed.

“That is the big unknown here is what happens to their information,” said Attorney Eric Artrip with Mastando & Artrip, LLC. “Their name, date of birth, social security number, all this information was taken from them. Their transcripts may be messed up, we don’t know what grades have been changed and when they go to apply to a college their transcripts may be so messed up that they can’t even get accepted.”

Attorney Will League and Artrip said the Athens City Board of Education knew what was going on between the school district and private schools in the state’s Black Belt region but didn’t stop Holladay from profiting personally.

“What is interesting is the school board changed their policies and procedures to give the superintendent the sole power to accept students and charge a separate fee from the other students,” said League with Siniard, Timberlake, & League P.C. “Why change that policies to give that superintendent so much power to which he could game the system?”

League also said, “That allowed him to see a weakness, have an authority to steal these kid’s identities and use it for his and his co-conspirators personal gain.”

“The state education director, Dr. Eric Mackey indicated or told them to stop. Not only did they not stop they accelerated the scheme. They put a 100-mile radius around Athens City Schools. They went and set up satellite offices to recruit other headmasters and other schools with perks, trips to the beach, to provide that student information.”

The Athens City School Superintendent Beth Patton sent us this statement following Tuesday’s lawsuit:

“I have reviewed the lawsuit filed in the Barbour County Circuit Court against former Superintendents Holladay and Sisk, and other individuals, which contains many of the same allegations as in the federal indictment. Although neither Athens City Schools, nor any of its active employees, are defendants in the case, I want to express that the allegations in the lawsuit, like those in the indictment, if true, constitute a monumental breach of trust and deception against the Athens City Schools’ board, teachers, students, and community.”

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