A visiting special superior court judge has recently dismissed a lawsuit filed earlier this year against the Alamance-Burlington school board, alleging that an unlicensed teacher assaulted a 14-year-old student at Broadview Middle School, grabbing the student by her hair and repeatedly slamming her to the ground late last year.
The lawsuit was filed in Alamance County superior court by Deborah Claggett, of 2015 Landon Court in Burlington, who is described in the court file as the maternal grandmother and guardian-ad-litem of the student, a 14-year-old identified by the initials, “K.H.” The assault occurred in a classroom at Broadview Middle School in November 2022, according to court documents.
The suit had targeted two defendants: the school board, under a single alleged claim of negligent hiring, retention, and supervision. Also named as a defendant was the now-former Broadview Middle School teacher, whom the court file identifies as Danielle Dixon of 3801 Fig Leaf Court in Greensboro.
Michael L. Robinson, a special judge for complex business cases for the North Carolina 4th Superior Court division, granted a motion to dismiss the school board as a defendant after hearing arguments in the case in Alamance County superior court this spring, according to his order, which is included in the court file.
Robinson ultimately agreed with the school board’s argument that it has immunity from being sued in the event that an employee or agent of ABSS negligently causes harm while acting in the scope of his or her duties, based on his order dismissing the board.
Robinson’s order only dismissed the school board as a defendant, while Dixon remains a defendant to the suit, Alamance County superior court officials confirmed Wednesday for The Alamance News.
The plaintiffs are seeking damages of more than $25,000 under each of multiple alleged claims against Dixon, including: assault and battery; negligent infliction of emotional distress; and intentional infliction of emotional distress, among other claims.
Meanwhile, the plaintiffs are appealing Robinson’s ruling that dismissed the school board as a defendant, based on a notice of appeal filed in superior court in mid-May.
Dixon had been hired as a language arts teacher at Broadview on September 13, 2022, under a contract that was originally scheduled to run through June 14 of this year; she was subsequently terminated, effective June 10, based on the semi-monthly personnel reports approved by the school board.
The plaintiffs, Claggett and the minor child K.H., contend that Dixon had been working with an expired teacher’s license and that ABSS had failed to properly investigate the status of her licensure prior to hiring her last fall to teach at Broadview Middle School.
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, this caused K.H. to strike Dixon in her arm, the complaint states.
Dixon allegedly grabbed the child and “pulled her inside the classroom while closing the door” and grabbed K.H. by her hair “and slammed the minor plaintiff into the door with enough force to break a broom that was located between [the child] and the wall and door area,” the complaint stated, citing as evidence one of six still photos taken from video recorded during the incident.
“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 alleged. The court file gave no indication of any circumstances that may have preceded the incident.
“The attack,” as the lawsuit characterized the incident, resulted in K.H.’s hair being pulled out, bruises, and ongoing emotional distress. The student also was initially suspended for 10 days “until video of the altercation was made available to local news outlets,” prompting the school system’s administration to reverse the suspension and transfer K.H. to Ray Street Academy, which is the alternative school for ABSS. The suit asserts that K.H. was not allowed to continue her education at Broadview and was forced to change schools “because of being a victim of a violent battery” by an ABSS employee.
The plaintiffs are being represented by attorney Jeff McMillion of McMillion Law in Graham.
The school board was represented by the Tharrington Smith law firm in Raleigh.
Dixon still has yet to file a response to the original lawsuit that Clagett filed earlier this year on behalf of her granddaughter, K.H.