Let’s consider the possible consequences that may result when a teacher has sex with a student. I can quickly think of at least five:
1. The teacher might be fired.
2. The teacher’s certificate might be revoked.
3. The teacher may be prosecuted for a crime.
4. The teacher may face a civil lawsuit.
5. The school district may face a civil lawsuit.
We don’t know all of what happened to teacher Willie Moorhead after his alleged sexual encounter with a fourteen-year old student. Maybe he was fired. Maybe he is no longer a certified teacher in Mississippi. Maybe he was prosecuted. But we do know that he was sued in federal court, and so was the school district.
The court dismissed the case against the school district for multiple reasons. Obviously, the school’s official policy frowned on any inappropriate activity between teachers and the kids, so the plaintiff had to make the case that the district “tolerated a pattern of sexual misconduct between teachers and students that was so well-settled that it constituted a custom that fairly represented [district] policy.” The allegation was that the district was too lenient on offending teachers, which led to a pattern of abuse.
The evidence fell short of that, and thus the case was dismissed. The testimony of the HR Director was supportive of the district’s position that it investigated incidents, and took appropriate actions.
The parent sued Mr. Moorhead also, and the court tells us that Mr. Moorehead never responded to the suit. Not responding to a suit is a very dangerous thing to do. Your lawyer would never recommend that. The court invited the plaintiff to seek a default judgment promptly.
The case is Floyd-Evans v. Moorehead, decided by the federal court for the Southern District of Mississippi on September 26, 2016. We found it at 2016 WL 5374148.
DAWG BONE: FAMILIAR LESSON: INVESTIGATE; TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTION; DOCUMENT.
File this one under: LIABILITY
Tomorrow: a strip search of 22 middle school girls. Yikes!