Rock Hill teacher sues district

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 29, 2007

CINCINNATI— A Rock Hill High School teacher has filed a lawsuit against her employer, claiming civil rights violation and retaliation.

Michael Moore, the attorney for Joy McComas, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati Wednesday against the school board and superintendent Lloyd Evans.

It does not specify damages. It alleges McComas was unfairly disciplined by Evans after she complained about the district’s handling of an incident involving her daughter and another student, both enrolled at Rock Hill High School.

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Evans said he was not aware of any lawsuit and did not want to comment.

According to the lawsuit, a female student threatened McComas’ daughter and then brought a knife to school on or about Feb. 23. The knife was reportedly confiscated and the female student who allegedly brought it was suspended for 10 days.

McComas said in her lawsuit she had expected the other girl would be expelled from school the remainder of the year, pursuant to board policy, but later learned the girl was being allowed to return to school for certain activities.

When McComas questioned the matter, she was told by other school officials Evans had the final say in what discipline would be taken against the child with the knife. McComas met with the school board in executive session March 15, at which time — according to the suit — Evans reportedly accused McComas’ daughter of being the aggressor and had assaulted the other student.

The lawsuit contends McComas came away from that meeting believing the board and Evans would not follow policy and would allow the child who had brought the knife to return. The complaint alleges the child is related to a school official and that her family is closely allied with Evans.

“All this mother sought throughout the ordeal was the assurance that the administration would behave competently and reasonably, given the threat of serious bodily harm made by the other student,” Moore said. “What she got was intimidation, threats and retaliation.

“We did not bring this suit lightly. Both requests by Mrs. McComas, and by me, to obtain some assurance that the board would act properly, were never answered.”

McComas directed her daughter to ask her school friends who had knowledge of the incident to give statements to the Lawrence County Prosecutor’s Office so that officials there could investigate the matter. When school officials learned what had taken place, McComas was reprimanded and later suspended from her job for three days, according to the suit.

McComas contended in her lawsuit that Evans again accused McComas’ daughter of assaulting the other student and defended the child who had reportedly brought the knife to school. The teacher was reprimanded again when she informed her students she was suspended.

McComas approached the board again June 21 and was told at that meeting by board attorney Sue Yont she could not read a prepared statement and if she continued to discuss the incident involving her daughter and the other student she would face further discipline. Following an executive session that evening, McComas was suspended again.

According to Moore, McComas’ daughter has been enrolled in another district for the upcoming school year.

The lawsuit contends McComas’ right to free speech was violated, as was her right to protect her daughter.

The lawsuit also contends both the teacher and her daughter were subjected to “loss of reputation, loss of self-esteem, humiliation and extreme emotional distress” and that McComas was affected financially by the suspensions from her job.