The latest court battle involving self-declared educational reform advocate Kate Smith involves a restraining order barring her from entering the Santa Barbara County Administration Building.
The county filed five cases of order-to-show-cause and temporary restraining orders against Smith on March 29, and it has been granted a temporary restraining order banning her from the entire building at 105 E. Anapamu St., county counsel Dennis Marshall said. The cases were filed by the county on behalf of five employees because of “escalating” incidents, he said.
On Tuesday, a Santa Barbara County Superior Court judge will decide if the standard is met for any restraining order, as the temporary order was to “keep the status quo” until legal proceedings, Marshall said.
Smith has been involved in legal disputes with the county and the Santa Barbara School District for years, but this case appears to be the culmination of her frustration with the system.
She often speaks of things such as the educational-politico-industrial complex and the school-to-prison pipeline during public comment at Tuesday meetings of the Board of Supervisors, the Santa Barbara City Council and the Board of Education. The Board of Supervisors meetings are held on the fourth floor of the county building, so a full restraining order would prohibit Smith from commenting in person.
Smith emotionally references her doctoral dissertation and mental issues — including her difficulty to handle stress — in public and online.
“Everybody knows I have PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) from what the school district did to me,” she said.
Now, her arena will be in court, and she said she plans to use the hearing as a “world stage” to further her crusade to expose school and government corruption, she told Noozhawk.
The county employees involved in the cases are administrative assistants and one a producer of county video, who all work in the building.
Smith said the case is a SLAPP: strategic lawsuit against public participation. No stranger to speaking her mind, she got a restraining order from the school district in the late 1990s, which was later expunged, and has been involved in all manner of lawsuits against county departments and the district — from small claims to a federal case involving special-education services provided for her daughter.
She also has run twice — and been disqualified because her address is outside the school district — for the Santa Barbara board of education.
Smith gets emotional talking about the case, but she said she plans to represent herself. She has subpoenaed every defendant in the hopes that it won’t be a rerun of her last restraining order case, which hinged entirely on declarations.
“The judge would read their short ones and my long one and say, ‘You’re crazy, lady,’” she said.
She calls the county’s current case “bull****,” saying she poses no threat to anyone. “I’m not a threat to their lives,” she said. “I am a very real threat to their livelihoods.”
The employees who filed declarations are essentially gatekeepers to information or the county’s higher-ups, which could explain why Smith has so many run-ins with them: the administrative assistant to First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal, administrative assistant to the Board of Supervisors or clerk’s office, administrative assistant to Marshall, the producer of in-house video for the county, and the executive secretary for the county executive office.
“We’re just trying to protect our employees,” Marshall said of the case. He said he didn’t know of any other comprehensive restraining orders since he came to the office in 2008, but he knew of at least five in his prior work at the Fresno county counsel’s office.
Court documents were unavailable for review with the case set for a hearing.
— Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.