Burrus elementary parents drop federal lawsuit

A lawsuit alleging the staff of Dr. William Burrus Elementary didn’t do enough to protect a student from abuse by another student has been dismissed.

A federal lawsuit alleging a nine-year-old student at Dr. William Burrus Elementary School was sexually assaulted by a classmate and the Sumner County Board of Education didn’t do enough to protect her has been dismissed.

The complaint was filed in U. S. District Court on Dec. 30, 2019 by the parents and guardians of “Jane Doe.”

In the complaint, “Doe’s” parents said they reported to the school’s principal, vice principal, teacher and counselor in January of 2019 that a female classmate had sexually assaulted their daughter on more than one occasion in the school restroom, on the school playground, and outside of school.

They were told that a safety plan would be put in place but no such plan was put in writing or given to the parents, they alleged.

They also said that their attempts to have their daughter transferred to another Sumner County school were unsuccessful.

The school district violated the student’s rights under the 14th amendment of the U. S. Constitution; Title IX; section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act; and the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to the complaint.

The parents requested a jury trial and sought unspecified damages for “the severe mental stress and anguish suffered” as well as payment for the girl’s homeschooling and psychological services.

They also sought injunctive relief to include changes in policies, training, supervision and observance of the federal statutes the lawsuit accused the school district of violating.

According to a Joint Stipulation of Dismissal filed April 28, 2021, “the parties stipulate and agree that each and every claim by plaintiff against defendant shall be dismissed with prejudice.”

Dismissed with prejudice means a case is permanently closed, and can’t be brought back up by the defendant. Chief Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr., subsequently ordered the file closed and that each party pay their own attorneys’ fees and all other expenses, costs and fees.

Sumner County Board of Education attorney Todd Presnell did not return a request for comment.

However, when contacted shortly after the lawsuit was filed, Presnell said the school district categorically denied the allegations, and was prepared to defend the case in court.

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