Lawsuits fly over Berkeley Co. case

We suspect most West Virginians share one idea on parenting: Harm my child, and the Lord help you. But what if you could get in trouble merely for protesting publicly that your son or daughter was being mistreated?

Three parents in Berkeley County complained, then filed lawsuits alleging their children were mistreated in public schools. One, Amber Pack, planted a recording device in her child’s hair one day and obtained evidence.

At least some of the school employees alleged to have been involved have resigned or been fired.

But Berkeley County school officials filed countersuits against the three parents. They also are asking a court to ban use of Amber Pack’s recording in her lawsuit.

After news of the countersuits broke, Berkeley County school officials withdrew them.

Meanwhile, in Mercer County, three lawsuits have been filed alleging a teacher mistreated students in a pre-school class. One of the plaintiffs is a teacher’s aide who insists she reported the abuse to superiors.

All three suits, including that by the aide, state school officials retaliated against those who reported mistreatment of children.

Whether reports of children being mistreated are true remains to be seen. Attempting to suppress the Pack recording certainly raises questions about whether school officials are interested in getting at the truth.

And it has not been proven that either the Berkeley County countersuits against complaining parents or actions by Mercer County school officials were in retaliation for reports of mistreatment.

But if they were — and that needs to be determined — everyone involved should be punished severely. If retaliation such as that alleged is not a serious crime under West Virginia law, it should be.

Harming precious little children is bad enough. Reprisals against a parent daring to protest that — or a teacher’s aide trying to protect the little ones — are even worse.

If that happened … well, suffice it to say the courts should show no mercy to those responsible.


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