The father of a former Foothill High School student has filed a civil rights lawsuit that accuses the Clark County School District of acting with “deliberate indifference” toward the conduct of an English teacher who lured the teenager into an inappropriate relationship.
Spokeswoman Melinda Malone said the district does not comment on pending litigation.
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs filed the document under the pseudonyms Parent Doe and John Doe “because special circumstances exist.” They are represented by attorney Douglas Cohen.
“The need for anonymity outweighs prejudice to the opposing parties and the public’s interest in knowing the parties’ identities,” according to the complaint.
The document identifies the teenager’s ninth-grade English teacher only as “teacher.” She is not listed as a defendant.
“Teacher had a previous history or reputation at the Clark County School District for exhibiting inappropriate flirtatious or grooming behavior with minor male students,” the complaint alleges. “The Clark County School District knew about teacher’s inappropriate flirtatious or grooming behavior but acted with deliberate indifference toward her conduct when it hired her as a full-time English teacher.”
Amanda Brennan, an English teacher at Henderson’s Foothill High School, pleaded guilty in October 2013 to one felony count of luring children with the intent to engage in sexual conduct for kissing a 15-year-old student.
Brennan was sentenced in March 2014 to five years of probation. As part of her sentence, she was required to register as a sex offender.
The boy’s mother discovered the relationship in May 2013 when he said he was going to the movies with some friends she did not know, according to court records. The mother soon discovered Brennan was coming to see her son.
A school police investigation revealed that Brennan and the boy had exchanged 1,000 text messages over a nine-day period.
The student told police he and Brennan loved each other and had only kissed twice. The teacher said the same, admitting that she knew the relationship was wrong but loved him.
According to the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in federal court, John Doe “is an exceptional student, but suffers from emotional disorders including … severe anxiety panic attacks and resulting depression, and was under psychiatric care and medication for his disability.”
The lawsuit claims the improper relationship between the teenager and his teacher began during the 2012-2013 school year, when he was in the ninth grade, and culminated with her luring him into sexual conduct on May 8, 2013.
“Leading up to the May 8, 2013, incident, John Doe continually missed his sixth period class to spend time with teacher on the Foothill High School premises … ,” the complaint alleges. “John Doe’s absence from the sixth period class was detailed and logged by the Foothill High School administration and the Clark County School District and they exhibited a deliberate indifference towards these absences.”
On May 9, 2013, school police were notified about the incident that had occurred the previous day, according to the lawsuit.
The document claims police then retrieved the teenager from his class, paraded him in front of students and took him to the school office.
According to the lawsuit, police questioned the teenager for an hour and a half and threatened that if he did not give them all of the details about his relationship with the teacher, they would pull other students out of class and question them about the relationship.
“The Clark County School District questioned John Doe in a harassing manner as though he was a criminal and not the victim,” the complaint alleges.
Others students saw the teenager being escorted to the office and could see him being interrogated through the office’s windows, according to the lawsuit.
“As a result of the outrageous and public manner in which the Clark County School District police handled the situation, the Foothill High School students put two and two together and found out that John Doe was the student who had a relationship with teacher, as her picture was plastered all over the news on May 9, 2013, and on social media,” the lawsuit alleges.
The deliberate indifference of school district police caused the teenager “great humiliation,” embarrassment, teasing, bullying and emotional distress, according to the complaint.
Afterward, the lawsuit alleges, the teenager’s teachers were openly hostile to him and refused to accommodate his disability.
The lawsuit further alleges that the teenager’s 10th-grade English teacher, Erin Wing, “engaged in despicable conduct against him” in January 2014.
Wing is listed as a defendant in the lawsuit, which identifies her as a friend of the teacher who had an inappropriate relationship with the teenager.
According to the lawsuit, Wing made “outrageous comments” to the teenager, such as telling him he had put her best friend out of a job. The lawsuit claims Jeanne Donadio, then the principal at Foothill, “wrongfully defended” Wing’s comments. Donadio also is listed as a defendant in the case.
Because of the defendants’ acts, according to the complaint, the teenager attempted suicide in February 2014 “and suffered extreme emotional distress.”
The teenager, now 17, also “was unable to continue his education at Foothill,” according to the lawsuit, and he now attends private boarding school in Arizona “at great expense” to his father.
“The Clark County School District has suffered a rash of incidents of teacher molestation of minor students,” according to the lawsuit. “The failure of the Clark County School District to take action to prevent sexual molestation of minor students in its care, by its own employees, shows a deliberate indifference to the unfortunate and very real risk that such execrable assaults would occur.”
Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at firstname.lastname@example.org of 702-384-8710. Find her on Twitter: @CarriGeer.