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Board could settle lawsuit

By Greg Bird

Meeting in regular session Monday night the McCreary County Board of Education took steps that could potentially settle one of the two lawsuits against them.
In actions with consent, the Board voted to approve authorizing Superintendent Corey Keith to complete all documents and items necessary to settle the lawsuit of Jane Doe v. the McCreary County Board of Education – if the insurance carrier settles the case.
The lawsuit was filed in August of last year by John and Jane Doe, on behalf of their daughter Mary in the Federal Court in London. The Doe’s contend their child was victim to bullying in the school system and District officials were “deliberately indifferent” to the actions of other students and teachers. (The Doe surname is an alias used to protect the identity of the minor child and her family). The Board of Education, then-Superintendent Michael Cash and McCreary Middle School Principal Todd Waters were all named as defendants in the suit.
The suit alleges the child was a student with a known disability, and was placed on an Individual Education Plan (IEP) in the fourth grade. As a result of her status, the child was subjected to a “pattern and practice of bullying” in the school system – both by students and staff.
At one point Mary Doe was allegedly photographed (presumably by a fellow student) in the girls locker room while in a state of undress. That photo was then supposedly shared on social media.
The lawsuit contends the photograph was reported to school authorities, but nothing was done to remedy the issue or punish the student who shared the photo.
The lawsuit also alleges two teachers also took part in bullying the student by shaming and harassing her in front of other students.
The family was seeking a jury trial as well as compensatory and punitive damages, court costs, legal fees and “any and all other relief…to which Plaintiff may appear entitled.”

The Board’s response to the suit denied the allegations and claimed immunity and other legal causes that would prohibit prosecution.
In their response the Defendants also specifically denied any district employee was notified about any of the alleged bullying contained in the complaint, and further denies any agent or employee of the District ignored any report.
The Federal Judge overseeing the case ordered both parties to meet and possibly work out a settlement. That effort apparently failed at the time and a trial date of next October was set.
As time progressed it appears that negotiations continued and a possible settlement offer has been agreed upon.
According to Federal records no official documents have yet to be filed in the case signaling an end to the lawsuit.

In other Board actions Monday night:

J.C. Egnew and the McCreary County Heritage Foundation presented the Board with a $10,000 donation in recognition of the District’s support of the Polar Express and co-op program.
MCHS Senior Aiden Tucker was also recognized for qualifying for the state Cross Country tournament at regionals last week.

The Board also discussed adding archery teams at the elementary school level. The sport has been growing in popularity and participation in recent years, and several parents have apparently expressed a desire to expand the offering to the fourth and fifth grade levels.
High School Archery Coach Estil Swain stated he felt the District had enough resources on hand to add the program, and volunteered to coach the younger teams until suitable coaches could be hired and trained.
The District will be hosting the regional archery tournaments for elementary, middle and high school this year – offering a good opportunity to raise enough money to fund all three levels of the program.
The Board agreed to add the program and two coaches, pending approval from the District’s insurance carrier.
The Board will meet again in regular session on Monday, November 25 at 6:30 p.m.

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