All of the Alabama school administrators recently accused by the U.S. Department of Justice of “deliberate indifference” for their failure to prevent the rape of a 14-year-old girl at Sparkman Middle School still have their jobs. One assistant principal connected to the case has even been promoted since the 2010 incident.
AL.com reported Thursday Ronnie Blair is still principal of the middle school where the attack occurred. Teresa Terrell is still assistant principal and former assistant principal, Jeanne Dunaway, has since been promoted to principal of nearby Madison County Elementary School.
The only school employee who appears to have suffered any consequences for her role in the case is teacher’s aide June Simpson who was placed on leave after the incident and later resigned.
The girl’s father filed a federal case in 2010, alleging that the school was negligent in its decision to use his daughter as bait to catch a sexually-aggressive male student at the school.
Judge T. Michael Putnam of U.S. District Court in Alabama blocked the federal case from going forward, according to the Christian Science Monitor. The judge, however, did say the state claims for negligence and wantonness could proceed.
AL.com reported Wednesday the Justice Department had filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in the state case arguing that the school was indifferent in the handling of the incident.
“A school board cannot avoid summary judgment as a matter of law when a school administrator willfully ignores a plan to use a 14-year-old special needs student as bait to catch a student with a known history of sexual and violent misconduct, and as a result, the student is sodomized,” the brief claims.
The girl’s father and his attorneys allege Simpson went to school administrators claiming the 14-year-old had complained of being sexually harassed by a 16-year-old, male, special needs student. The boy was allegedly asking the girl to meet him in a school bathroom to have sex.
When Simpson reported the problem to Blair, the Justice Department brief says he told the teacher’s aide, “that (the boy) could not be punished because he had not been 'caught in the act,' short-hand for the school's policy that students could not be disciplined without substantiation of student-on-student misconduct.”
Simpson then allegedly told the girl to follow the boy to the bathroom next time he asked, so she could catch him harassing her.
“Simpson and (the girl) then went to Vice-Principal Dunaway's office, where Simpson told Dunaway about her plan to use (the girl) as bait to catch (the boy),” the Justice Department brief states. “Dunaway did not respond with any advice or directive.”
“(The girl) left Dunaway's office, found (the boy) in the hallway, and agreed to meet him for sex. (The boy) told (the girl) to go to the sixth grade boys' bathroom and she complied. No teachers were in the bathroom to intervene, and (the boy) sodomized (the girl),” the brief adds.
The Justice Department also claims that school administrators minimized previous incidents in which the male student was involved and recorded them in his file simply as “inappropriate touching.”
School board member Mary Louise Stowe declined to comment other than to say, “To tell you the truth, we're kind of taken by surprise by this. We thought this was pretty much put to rest already.”
The school district released a statement Thursday saying its attorneys had recommended school officials not comment on the pending legislation.
“The attorneys for the Board of Education and school officials are confident that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals will rule in favor of the board and the administrators,” the statement said.
Blair complied with the advice of school attorneys and declined to comment.
“As you are aware, I cannot comment now, but look forward to an opportunity in the future,” he said.