Parents sue Upshur BOE

The parents of a special needs student at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School have filed a lawsuit in Upshur County Circuit Court against a teacher’s aide and the Board of Education, claiming they have suffered from humiliation, physical, mental and emotional pain and suffering resulting from an incident in October 2011.

Mark and Twila Williams claim in the suit against Arlene Smith and the Upshur County Board of Education that their child suffers from various physical and mental handicaps, though those handicaps were not specified in the complaint filed in Circuit Court. The couple claim that their child regularly suffers pain and discomfort while at school, and when those times arise, the child had previously been allowed to rest her head on the desk.

According to the lawsuit, on an unknown date in October 2011, the regular teacher in the child’s class was not at school. On that date when the child experienced pain and discomfort, she tried to rest her head on her desk.

According to the lawsuit, Smith instructed the child to sit up in the chair. When the child complained of pain and discomfort, Smith is alleged to have used a belt to tie the child to the back of the chair, preventing the child from resting her head. According to the lawsuit, the substitute teacher allegedly took no action to prevent the event from happening.

The court records state that the Williams met with administrators from the middle school in November 2011 and were told of the incident, but that administrators refused to discuss any specifics of the incident or “any steps taken to insure the (child’s) safety.”

Upshur County Superintendent of Schools Scott Lampinen said Smith is still employed with the Board of Education, but could not discuss any issues surrounding the matter.

The Williams are seeking compensatory and punitive damages, which they want a jury to determine. No hearing date has been scheduled.