CHARLESTON -- Three adult students are suing the Kanawha County Board of Education after they claims an instructor wrongfully discriminated against students.

In Fall 2009, Matthew A. Casto, Reginald Kelly and Terry E. Casto individually spoke with Ben Franklin, who works for the Board of Education, to learn more about the Heavy Equipment Operation and Maintenance training program for adult students, according to three complaints filed Feb. 21 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

The men claim Franklin assured them they would be certified as heavy equipment operators upon completion of the program and that job services would be provided to them upon completion of the program.

Kenneth W. Johnson taught the HEOM training program and as scheduled, the three men began attending the program on Jan. 4, 2010, according to the suits.

The men claim Johnson claim on March 1, 2010, Johnson made an unwelcome, unsolicited racial slur against Kelly in the presence of Matthew Casto and Terry Casto, as well as other students.

Johnson's conduct was inappropriate, abusive, profane, humiliating and intimidating language, according to the suits.

The men claim when they reported the incident, Johnson was negligently permitted to return to the class on on March 10, 2010, "made threats of reprisal against those who made complaints about his discriminatory and abusive conduct."

The defendant had prior knowledge of Johnson's propensity to use inappropriate, abusive, profane, humiliating and intimidating language in the presence of and directed toward adult students in the program, yet negligently hired or retained him to instruct the class, according to the suit.

Matthew Casto, Kelly and Terry Casto are seeking compensatory damages. They are being represented by Keith A. Jones.

The cases have been assigned to Circuit Judge James C. Stucky, Carrie Webster and Jennifer Bailey.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 12-C-327, 12-C-328, 12-C-329

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