Kanawha Board of Education sued

By John O'Brien | Sep 21, 2006

CHARLESTON - An employee of DuPont Middle School says he was slandered during a school board meeting last year.

James Hernshaw filed suit Sept. 14 in Kanawha Circuit Court against the Kanawha County Board of Education, Dave Miller and Pete Thaw, seeking special damages for emotional and mental trauma, damage to his professional reputation and a diminution in his ability to enjoy life.

At a meeting last September, he says the issue of his employment was brought up during the public meeting, and Miller, then the principal at DuPont, "made untrue and knowingly false statements of, and concerning, the plaintiff, including but not limited to 'You don't take a student's shirt and try to wring his neck with it.'"

The suit says Thaw added about Hernshaw: "He's a liability. Children's safety is No. 1."

Hernshaw says the remarks were published in the Charleston Gazette and charges both men with slander. He charges the board of education with breaching its duty to ensure its employees act in compliance with all state laws.

Todd Twyman of Twyman Law Offices in Charleston is representing Hernshaw, who adds that the statements and the publicity they received "caused the members of the Board and other members present to regard the plaintiff… in a less than favorable light."

Hernshaw also feels the statements were outside the scope of Thaw's and Miller's employment responsibilities and were done with malicious purpose.

Judge James Stucky has been assigned the case.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 06-C-1902

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