CHARLESTON - A Kanawha County woman has filed a suit against the Board of Education, on behalf of her daughter, who allegedly was mistreated, humiliated and abused by her teacher.
Laura Young filed the suit May 16 in Kanawha Circuit Court against the Kanawha County Board of Education, as well as the principal, Michael D. Pack and teacher Judy Newhouse at Bonham Elementary School, where her daughter was enrolled.
The suit was filed on behalf of Young's daughter, identified only as S.Y., who was a fifth-grade student at Bonham during the 2007-08 school year.
According to the suit, S.Y. was assigned to a certain classroom, but the teacher left on maternity leave in March 2008. Newhouse was assigned to fill in as a permanent substitute. The suit says that shortly after her assignment began, Newhouse started a campaign of abuse toward several students, and singled out S.Y. in particular.
Young claims her daughter is a solid "B" average student, who was well liked by her previous teacher.
"S.Y.'s grade cards reflect that generally, S.Y. is a sweet, good-natured girl who liked school," the suit says. "At no time in the school year prior to the arrival of Newhouse did S.Y. receive a 'pink' disciplinary slip."
A "pink slip" is a reference to the county's discipline report, which teachers use to record improper behavior. According to the suit, the behavior falls into one of four categories or levels. Level one is less severe and the most severe is level four.
Young claims her daughter received six "pink slips" since April 1, 2008, nearly all of which were from Newhouse and alleged level three severity behavior.
During the course of her daughter's abuse, Young went to the school to sit in the hallway outside Newhouse's classroom and listen to her without her knowledge.
"What Young overheard sickened, shocked her and outraged her into immediate action by confronting Pack," the suit says. "For about an hour or more, Young listened to what can only be described as deliberate cruelty in the manner in which Newhouse managed the class."
Young informed Pack of Newhouse's behavior and asked if it would be acceptable to move her daughter to a different class.
According to the suit, Pack said he knew Newhouse was a problem but claimed his hands were tied as to the hire and that he did not have money to hire another substitute.
Young claims Newhouse's behavior toward her daughter did not improve and on May 5, gave S.Y. a third "pink slip" which led to her suspension. S.Y. was suspended from school for May 6, 7, and 8, which caused her to miss the state "WESTEST."
According to the suit, S.Y. was required to make up the test. In addition to the classroom humiliation and abuse S.Y. suffered, her mother claims Newhouse did not allow her or 18 other students who had already paid for a field trip to Washington, D.C., to go on the trip. Young claims she was denied a refund for the trip.
In the 12-count suit, Young seeks the immediate termination of Newhouse and suspension of Pack. She also seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
Attorney Todd W. Reed is representing Young. The case has been assigned to Judge Jennifer Bailey Walker.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number 08-C-958