MARTINSBURG – A man is suing the Jefferson County Board of Education through his guardian after he claims he was injured by a teacher at school.
Howard Guth and Terry Taylor, a principal and teacher both working for the school board, also were named as defendants in the suit.
William Conklin, who is now 22, has been diagnosed with having Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Impulse-Control Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Mild Mental Retardation, Asthma and mild hearing loss, according to a complaint filed Jan. 14 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia.
Susan Conklin claims William Conklin was a special education student at Jefferson High School, where Guth was the principal and Taylor was a teacher.
On Jan. 16, 2014, William Conklin was in his classroom when he spoke or made a comment about a classmate, at which time Taylor grabbed him by the neck, choked him and pushed him into a bookcase, causing marks on his body, aggravating a prior back injury and causing pain, causing extreme humiliation and embarrassment and causing extreme fear, according to the suit.
Susan Conklin claims four days later, Trooper First Class J.E. Williams of the West Virginia State Police investigated the incident and obtained eye-witness accounts from two students who confirmed that Taylor choked William Conklin and pushed him against the bookcase in the classroom.
On Jan. 17, 2014, Susan Conklin and William Conklin met with Tony Roman, the assistant principal; Charles Hampton, the Director of Pupil Services; and Guth and it was then that Guth told William Conklin that the assault was his fault, according to the suit.
Susan Conklin claims Taylor was allowed to return to the classroom and William Conklin was fearful of being around him and was emotionally unstable to return to the same classroom after Taylor returned.
There was no other appropriate special education classroom at the high school and the defendants offered early graduation, but when William Conklin and Susan Conklin refused, since he had not accomplished the goals on his Individual Education Plan, he was placed on homebound instruction, which was initially located in a trailer classroom whose door was located a few feet from the door of Taylor’s classroom, according to the suit.
Susan Conklin claims due to his fear of seeing Taylor, his home bound instruction was moved to the public library, where an instructor provided him with academic services three times a week, causing him embarrassment, humiliation and isolation from his peers.
During William Conklin’s final year in high school, he was still offered home bound instruction and, two months prior to graduation, after requesting to be moved back into the school, the defendants agreed to move his home bound instruction into the school’s library three days per week and the defendants also agreed to keep Taylor from being in the bus pick-up area while William Conklin was leaving school.
The physical violence toward William Conklin was allowed and condoned by the defendants and their practices served no legitimate educational or other purposes, but, instead, were inflicted to punish and humiliate with a wanton and reckless disregard for the rights, feelings, safety and welfare of the plaintiff, according to the suit.
William Conklin, through Susan Conklin, is seeking compensatory and punitive damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. He is being represented by Nancy A. Dalby.
The case is assigned to District Judge Gina S. Groh.