A Liberty County student who allegedly received hand-written notes containing sexual content from a middle-school teacher last year has filed suit against the Liberty County School System seeking more than $15,000 in damages.
The suit, filed Nov. 7 by attorney Jule Lassiter of The Chestnut Firm, which is based in Gainesville, Fla., alleges that the district knew or should have known about the sexually inappropriate actions of its employee and failed to protect its students from the actions.
As the Courier previously reported, Lewis Frasier Middle School sixth-grade math teacher Roosevelt Tazewell was arrested Dec. 10, 2010, on charges of criminal intent to entice a child for indecent purposes and child molestation.
Though few details about the allegations have been released, the incident allegedly occurred on or around Oct. 18, 2010, and was reported to the Hinesville Police Department on Nov. 8, 2010. The student’s parents found the notes in her locker, according to the incident report.
According to court records, Tazewell was released on bond Dec. 10, 2010, but his bond was revoked June 13, after he reportedly appeared at the victim’s school and at her family’s church.
Tazewell, who had been employed by the system for five years, was placed on leave immediately, and the Georgia Professional Standards Commission revoked his teaching certification this summer, according to LCSS Superintendent Dr. Judy Scherer.
The suit alleges that Tazewell sent multiple inappropriate electronic communications to the plaintiff, including communications on MySpace.com, attempted to entice her and molested her.
“Notwithstanding its knowledge of the sexually inappropriate actions of its employee, Tazewell, defendant Liberty County School System … failed to take any action to keep its students, including plaintiff, safe from Tazewell’s sexually inappropriate actions,” the suit said. “As a direct and proximate result of the defendant’s actions or inactions, the plaintiff suffered harm, including severe emotional distress.”
The suit also claims that LCSS breached its duty by failing to supervise its employee and students, as well as failing to intervene when it knew or should have known about the employee’s alleged actions.
It also alleges that the district concealed information about the incident from the student’s parents, failed to immediately notify the parents and authorities, and that employees or agents of the system “uttered disparaging words about the sexually inappropriate acts.”
Due to the nature of the pending litigation, Scherer could not comment in-depth on the suit or the issue, but she did acknowledge the suit.
“The lawsuit has been filed, the school system is being represented by Chris Steinmetz out of Savannah, through our own insurance company, and he will be filing motions in court shortly,” Scherer said.