Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

October 30, 2012

Parent files suit in paddling incident

CROSSVILLE — Cumberland County schools, Homestead Elementary, a former teacher and coach, and administrators are named as defendants in a federal lawsuit filed Oct. 9 in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.

The suit, filed by Melanie S. Stoner on behalf of her minor child, arises from a paddling incident at Homestead Elementary School in March 2011 where her child was paddled for attempting to leave a classroom early, even though he was on the "no paddle" list and parents had not granted the school permission to use corporal punishment in disciplining the child.

Defendants include Cumberland County doing business as Cumberland County Schools, Director of Schools Aarona VanWinkle, Homestead Elementary Principal Robin Perry and James Vaughn Davis, former teacher and coach at the school. The suit claims Davis and the other defendants violated the student's right to due process, committed battery and assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence. The suit was filed by Richard M. Brooks, of Carthage, and Crossville attorney Walter Alan Rose.

Davis, then 71, was indicted in March 2012 on a single charge of simple assault, a misdemeanor charge. He was later granted diversion in the case and will be eligible to have the charge removed from his record if he completes the sentencing agreement. He was placed on unsupervised probation for 11 months and 29 days and paid court costs.

Davis also has been on family medical leave with the school system and has not returned to teaching.

According to the lawsuit, the minor child was involved in an ATV accident in 2009 that left him with a subdural hematoma, subarachnoid hemmorrhage, extra axial hemorrhage, intraparenchymal hemorrhage, brain edema and a skull fracture, group together as a traumatic brain injury under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. During the 2009-2010 school year, the student had an individual education plan, and IEP, that called for modified physical education class to avoid contact sports and prevent further injury. Stoner also contacted the school and said her child was not to be subjected to corporal punishment.

The suit states that on March 23, the student prepared to leave the classroom and was instructed to return to his seat because class had not yet ended. The lawsuit states the student returned to his seat and was instructed to not leave the classroom until all the other students had left. However, he left with the rest of the class.

According to the suit, Davis pursued the student outside the classroom, bent him over an object and proceeded to administer three licks with a paddle. The lawsuit states this was in violation of school board policy and was a disproportionate form of discipline for the infraction.

"The defendant's paddling of the plaintiff amounted to an inhumane abuse of official power," the suit states. "These acts, complained of above, constitute a violation of the plaintiff's substantive due process rights."

Perry, VanWinkle and the school system are named in the the suit as being liable because they were Davis' superiors and responsible for his actions.

The lawsuit claims the student has been diagnosed with considerable anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder following the paddling incident and has suffered from a fainting event and nightmares. Stoner claims she also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety disorder as a result of her son's paddling and that the family has and will continue to incur costs for medical and psychological treatment as a result of the paddling.

Stoner seeks damages for physical pain and suffering, emotional pain and suffering, medical expenses, punitive damages, attorney's fees and other costs, not to exceed $250,000 against the school system, VanWinkle and Perry, and no more than $250,000 in punitive damages from Davis.

In addition, the suit asks for a declaratory judgment that the conduct of Davis and the school system were unconstitutional and seeks injunctive relief to bar the defendants from engaging in such conduct in the future and "to provide proper policy, training and supervision of employees and hold them accountable for their misconduct."

Cumberland County Board of Education Attorney Earl Patton said the school system's insurance carrier, Tennessee Risk Management, had been notified and Ken Williams of Cookeville hired to represent the school system in the court proceedings.

1
Text Only
Area News
  • Cruikshank cattle called Cumberland County home

    Sept. 23, 1903, Chronicle reports, “The members of the Christian Church here are preparing to erect a church building on the corner lot facing Webb Avenue and the Rockwood Road. Dr. Thomas Snodgrass owned a block of lots near the Academy (Webster Academy) and before he died made the offer of a corner lot for the building of a Christian Church.

    August 1, 2014

  • Steak and Potatoes Field Day set Aug. 5

    The annual Steak and Potatoes Field Day, sponsored by the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, will once again showcase the research and outreach activities at UT’s Plateau AgResearch and Education Center.

    August 1, 2014

  • Man dies while in custody

    The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is investigating the death of a man who died while in custody of local law enforcement.

    August 1, 2014

  • Hole in one highlights day one of Women's Open

    Haverly Harrold of Johnson City, TN, recorded a hole-in-one on the par 3, 11th hole in the first day of play at the 16th annual Golf Capital of Tennessee Women's Open at Stonehenge Golf Club Thursday.

    August 1, 2014

  • BOE recognizes city.jpg City praised by school officials

    The Cumberland County Board of Education, represented by Director of Schools Donald Andrews, right, recognized the city of Crossville, represented by City Manager David Rutherford, left, and Crossville Mayor J.H. Graham III, center, at its July 24 meeting with a certificate of appreciation for the city’s continued support of education in Cumberland County.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Report of missing child turns out false; one charged

    A man living in Crossville set off a major search by law enforcement officers and about 40 employees of a retail store after he reported a small child missing. He later recanted and has now been charged with a misdemeanor charge.

    July 31, 2014

  • tourism-granville.jpg Tourism talk dominates roundtable meeting

    Tourism is big business in Cumberland County and the state of Tennessee.
    Tennessee state officials visited the Crossville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce and provided a wealth of information for a roundtable discussion County Mayor Kenneth Carey Jr. organized.

    July 31, 2014 2 Photos

  • School system closes budget with more in reserves than planned

    The school system is going to end the year with a little more in its reserves than originally thought, Bob Scarbrough, transportation/maintenance supervisor and acting CFO, at the July 24 meeting of the Cumberland County Board of Education.
    "We believe there will be $4.7 million in the fund balance, which is quite a bit better than anticipated," Scarbrough said.

    July 31, 2014

  • Investigation into assault continues

    A Sparta Hwy. man found with lacerations to the back of the head told Cumberland County sheriff's deputies he was assaulted at a residence on Hwy. 70 N, but doesn't know why.

    July 31, 2014

  • Theft, arson of storage shed reported

    Someone broke into a storage shed and stole several items and, to add insult to injury, set the storage building on fire, according to a Cumberland County Sheriff's Department report.

    July 31, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Parade
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Renewed Violence Taking Toll on Gaza Residents 2 Americans Detained in North Korea Seek Help US Employers Add 209K Jobs, Rate 6.2 Pct House GOP Optimistic About New Border Bill Gaza Truce Unravels; Israel, Hamas Trade Blame Raw: Tunisia Closes Borders With Libya Four Rescued From Crashed Plane Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014