The Alamance-Burlington school board has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed earlier this year against ABSS and a now-former teacher who was fired after she allegedly attacked a 14-year-old female student at Broadview Middle School.
The suit alleges that the now-former teacher, Danielle Dixon of 3801 Fig Leaf Court in Greensboro, violently assaulted the student, who is identified by the initials, “K.H.,” in November 2022. The lawsuit was filed by the student’s maternal grandmother, Deborah Claggett, of 2015 Landon Court in Burlington, who has also been appointed to serve as a guardian ad litem to represent K.H. for the suit.
Dixon had been hired in September 2022 to teach language arts at Broadview Middle School. While her contract had been scheduled to run through the end of this school year, Dixon was terminated January 10, based on the personnel reports that school board members approved in September 2022 and January 2023.
The lawsuit alleged that “Dixon had multiple issues within her classroom with other students and disciplinary actions by the [principal] of Broadview Middle School.” The suit also drew attention to the fact that Dixon didn’t hold a current teaching license when she was hired to work at Broadview last fall.
However, in its response to the suit, the school board countered, “consistent with customary practice,” Dixon met all of the qualifications for a teaching license but hadn’t yet finalized all of the paperwork necessary to receive a license prior to starting work with ABSS.
The school board denied most of the other claims outlined in the lawsuit surrounding the alleged attack on the 14-year-old student.
According to the case background outlined in the suit, K.H. had “attempted to walk into her assigned classroom to retrieve her bookbag, when Dixon blocked her path with her arm while [K.H.] was approximately three inches away and still moving forward.” The child was unable to avoid making contact with Dixon, and when Dixon moved her arm into her path, it caused K.H. to strike Dixon in her arm, according to the lawsuit Claggett filed against ABSS and Dixon.
The lawsuit alleged that Dixon then grabbed K.H. and “pulled her inside the classroom while closing the door,” grabbed K.H. by her hair, “and slammed the [child] into the door with enough force to break a broom that was located between the wall and door area,” the complaint states, citing as evidence one of six still photographs taken from video, which was recorded during the incident and included in the court file.
“Dixon then grabbed [K.H.] by the hair on the back of her head and forcefully slammed [the] minor plaintiff to the ground…no less than five times,” the lawsuit alleges.
In its response to the suit, the school board admitted that two other staff members entered the classroom following the encounter between K.H. and Dixon; that Dixon “continued to hold the minor Plaintiff by the hair following the arrival of other staff members”; and that K.H. was suspended for 10 days, with a recommendation for a long-term suspension. “It is denied that the decision [to suspend K.H.] was ever reversed,” as the suit originally alleged.
Instead, K.H. was reassigned to Ray Street Academy, the alternative school for ABSS, for the rest of the school year, according to the school board’s response to the suit.
Clagett, as guardian ad litem for the minor K.H., is seeking more than $25,000 in monetary damages against each of the defendants, ABSS and Dixon.
Meanwhile, the school board has based its motion for dismissal on its claim that it is immune from legal liability for multiple alleged claims for relief outlined in the suit, which include: assault/battery; negligent hiring, retention, and supervision of Dixon; negligent infliction and intentional infliction of emotional distress; and violation of the child’s constitutional right to an education.
The school board also claims it’s immune from legal liability for civil claims of alleged negligence because it lacks “liability insurance that would indemnify it for a claim of this type and size,” according to the board’s motion for dismissal, which also includes affidavits by the ABSS chief finance officer (Kim McVey) and Melody Coons, an assistant with the school system’s insurance carrier, the North Carolina School Boards Trust.
The school board’s motion to dismiss was tentatively scheduled for a hearing last week in Alamance County civil superior court. The court file gives no indication whether the hearing took place, or whether the motion to dismiss has been granted.
The plaintiff is being represented by Graham attorney Jeff McMillion. The defendants are being represented by the Tharrington Smith law firm in Raleigh.