Decatur woman who won whistleblower lawsuit gives thousands to the city’s school system
This story has been updated.
In August of last year, City Schools of Decatur received a “generous donation” of $100,000 from Meredith McCoyd to purchase iPads for Renfroe Middle School.
At tonight’s School Board meeting, the board will consider accepting up to an additional $50,000 from McCoyd for more iPads at Renfroe and in the Exceptional Student Services Department.
McCoyd said she also once gave the Decatur Education Foundation a $500,000 donation. While Decaturish was unable to confirm the specifics, it’s likely this was the source of the anonymous donation DEF received in 2012, which at the time was the largest gift in the foundation’s history.
That same year, McCoyd received a share of $84 million awarded by the federal government as part of the $1.5 billion settlement of a whistleblower lawsuit against her employer, Abbott Laboratories. The New York Times reported that McCoyd and the other whistleblowers also split $22 million in state-level claims.
In the lawsuit, McCoyd accused Abbott of illegally marketing the anti-seizure drug Depakote for uses that were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The company said the drug could also be used to treat schizophrenia and dementia patients. McCoyd was a sales rep for Abbott in Atlanta when she filed the suit.
“It was a life-changing event,” McCoyd told Decaturish.
She said she’s lived in Decatur for about 10 years. She has a son in the city’s school system and said she began donating to CSD because she “just decided that it was the only the right thing to do and you should also give back to the community.”
“That’s why I do it, because I can and I think it’s really important,” McCoyd said. “Education is very important, especially to me and my son.”
McCoyd said she prefers donating directly to the school system because it allows her to earmark the money for specific projects, like iPads.
“I can get good feedback from the current superintendent … about what they need,” she said.
Editor’s note: After this article was published, McCoyd’s attorney Blue Spruell, contacted the publisher and requested a correction. He said his client had pledged “up to” $50,000. The exact wording of the item on the CSD agenda is as follows:
Earlier this year, the District received a generous donation from Ms. Meredith McCoyd that allowed the iPad Project to expand from the 4/5 Academy to Renfroe Middle School. Ms. McCoyd would like to donate another $50,000 over the next six months for iPads at Renfroe Middle School and the ESS Department.
This story was updated to clarify McCoyd’s intent.