FHS janitor charged after finding gun; Lambert appeals

Published 12:51 pm Monday, August 13, 2012

A Brewton woman serving in a janitorial position at Flomaton High School is facing ethics and theft charges after being indicted by an Escambia County grand jury during their recent session.


Rita Bell Folmar faces one count of ethics violation and one count of third-degree theft of property in connection with May incident involving former Flomaton band director, John Lambert.  Folmar was named as the person who informed school officials that she had found a gun in Lambert’s personal baggage inside the school’s band room — a finding that ultimately lead to Lambert’s dismissal from employment with the Escambia County School system.  In the grand jury indictment, Folmar is accused of “using her job for personal financial gain by using her key to enter the office of John Lambert and by pilfering through is personal property.” The indictment said Folmar is accused of opening a “closed duffle bag and another closed case contained within, with the intent to commit a theft of property.”

In the second count of the indictment charging her with theft, the grand jury indictment charged Folmar of “knowingly obtaining r exert unauthorized control over U.S. currency, the property of John Lambert, and having a value not in excess of $500 with the intent to deprive the owner of said property.”

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The case that lead to Folmar’s indictment is also a case that has put Lambert out of a job — a fact he plans to appeal.  Lambert was dismissed from his position as a member of the Flomaton High School faculty after members of the Escambia County School

Board made the ruling following a recent hearing. A hearing concerning accusations against Folmar was scheduled to follow

Lambert’s session, however, that hearing was postponed due to the possible criminal charges pending in Folmar’s case.

Lambert had been placed on administrative leave pending the hearing concerning the finding of a gun in his personal property on the school campus in May.

In an appeal’s letter to Thomas R. Bice, superintendent with the Alabama Department of Education, Lambert said the statement from policies used in consideration for termination was “fatally defective” and “vague.”

“The termination proceeds were brought as a result of an alleged violation of Police #826 of the Escambia County School Board which states ‘no employee, with the exception of any law enforcement personnel, will be in possession of an unauthorized weapon, any school premises, including school vehicles, or at any school planned activity’,” Lambert’s appeal letter stated. “The clear language of Board Policy #826 is fatally defective. The word ‘will’ is used to express the willingness, desire or intention of the speaker.” The policy also states that a ‘violation of this policy provision will result in suspension or dismissal of the employee.

“The clear language of Board Policy #826 is flawed and such my termination should not be based on this flawed policy,” Lambert stated in his appeal. “It was the duty of the Board to follow the policy as written and not based upon what they believed its intention to be.”

Lambert also claimed the gun found and seized was done so in violation of his constitutional rights against unreasonable searches.

“The search of my personal belongings and luggage by Scott Hammond, a supervisory employee of the Escambìa County School Board violated the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.” Lamberts appeal stated. “That the location and placement of the pistol concealed in an among my personal belongings in my locked office gives rise to an expectation of privacy which is guaranteed by both the Alabama and United States Constitutions. That the Search of the personal property of the Teacher/Employee violated my constitutional rights as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and made applicable to the states by virtue of the Fourteenth Amendment and the applicable section of the Alabama Constitution more commonly referred to as the Declaration of Rights.”

The letter of appeal was sent to the Alabama Department of Education offices earlier this week. No response from state officials has been made available in the matter.