Parents confront school board about daughter
School officials fielded complaints from parents at the October 16 board meeting about the treatment of their daughter, a Warm Springs Middle School student.
Janice and Thomas Niven told Superintendent David Banks and school board members that their daughter wanted to leave the school because she is being bullied and treated unfairly at school.
The Nivens filed a written complaint of sexual harassment against a teacher at the middle school last October and alleged their daughter is being treated differently because of it.
Thomas Niven said he had waited long enough to get action on the sexual harassment complaint against the middle school teacher, and would be taking his complaint to the State Board of Education and the prosecuting attorney.
The Nivens never named the teacher, but alleged he had a reputation for inappropriate conduct around female students.
School Board president Laura Smith proposed that the board adjourn into an executive session to discuss the matter, but Janice Niven protested.
"I want this to come out in the open. It's been hidden too long," she said.
At the end of the regular meeting, the school board went into closed session to discuss the personnel matter. The board took no action when it reconvened, but officials said Superintendent Banks updated them about the Nivens' 2006 complaint.
Linda McGraw, the school system's designated officer for sexual harassment investigations, told The Morgan Messenger later that she checked in to the accusations against the teacher last year and made recommendations to then Superintendent David Temple.
No personnel hearing about the teacher was held before the school board at that time, though school officials acted on McGraw's recommendations, said Superintendent Banks.
"We feel very comfortable with him working with students," Banks said of the teacher in question.
McGraw investigates formal complaints of sexual harassment for the school system.
Parents should always share sexual harassment concerns with school officials, McGraw said. Parents can contact their child's school or McGraw directly.
If there is evidence that a student or staff member has broken the school's policy against harassment, consequences for the offender can range from added supervision to special training classes.
Superintendent Banks said proven sexual harassment by school employees could result in consequences that range from a letter of reprimand to dismissal.