Parents sue Berkeley school board for negligence, harassment

By Kyla Asbury | Apr 1, 2015

MARTINSBURG – The parents of a 10-year-old boy are suing Berkeley County Board of Education for negligence and harassment.

Berkeley County Schools; Manny P. Arvon II, the superintendent of Berkeley's school district; Autumne Frye, the principal of Mountain Ridge Intermediate School; and Jennifer Barrow, a fifth-grade teacher at the school, were also named as defendants in the suit.

On Oct. 9, N.J., a student at Mountain Ridge, was forced to spend his recess walking "light pole to light pole," which involves a student walking from one specified light pole to another specified pole back and forth for the duration of the punishment period, according to a complaint originally filed Feb. 9 in Berkeley Circuit Court and removed to federal court on March 13.

Neva Javage and William Javage, N.J.'s parents, claim on Oct. 10, Neva Javage met with Frye to discuss the inappropriate punishment used by Barrow, and Frye defended using walking as a form of discipline.

On Oct. 14, Barrow again forced N.J., to walk light pole to light pole during recess, according to the suit.

The plaintiffs claim Barrow has forced their son to perform this type of punishment on other occasions during recess, and has forced N.J. to walk in the classroom from the door to the teacher's desk, in front of classmates, as punishment.

Walking in the form required by Barrow was a very painful experience each and every time N.J. was forced to endure it, according to the suit.

The Javages claim N.J. has a documented history of pain in his heels and the pain is most prevalent when he is subjected to repetitive and/or strenuous physical activity. The condition often causes him to wake up in pain during the night.

Because of the pain in his heels, N.J. woke up during the night of Oct. 9 and was unable to attend school on Oct. 10 due to the pain and lack of sleep, according to the suit.

The Javages claim N.J. endured regular abuse by Barrow and became very emotional, unhappy and angry before school. They claim he would cry and plead not to be taken to school.

Since November, N.J. has not attended school as a result of the repeated instances of corporal punishment inflicted upon him by Barrow and now exhibits severe emotional distress at the suggestion that he go to school, according to the suit.

The Javages claim since October, Neva Javage has contacted the school district on multiple occasions requesting assistance for N.J. so that he does not fall far behind in his studies and has requested a tutor to work with him and/or placement of her son on Homebound Instruction.

The defendants have not provided tutoring or homebound instruction for N.J. and instead, Neva Javage and William Javage have become victims of harassment, retaliation and threats, according to the suit.

The Javages claim on Jan. 14, the school district filed a criminal complaint against William Javage in response to his absences from school and on at least one occasions, on Jan. 23, no less than three personnel from the school district appeared unannounced at the Javage residence threatening to report Neva Javage to local law enforcement.

The defendants are negligent and have caused an intentional infliction of emotional distress on the plaintiffs and N.J.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages with pre-judgment interest.

They are being represented by Steven Brett Offutt of the Law Office of Brett Offutt. The case is assigned to District Judge John Preston Bailey.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia case number: 3:15-cv-00026

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