How does a man with a long history of drug and alcohol charges land a job as a special education teacher for Henrico County Schools? It is just one of the questions at the center of a $20 million lawsuit.
"Not only are they not properly educating these children, but you have some of them who are abusing and neglecting these children while they are in their care," said attorney Charlotte Hodges.
School activist Kandise Lucas is also speaking out on confidential Henrico school documents from 2009. They show a Richmond man, who we are choosing not to identify because of ongoing litigation, tested positive for cocaine and was labeled a habitual DUI offender by the DMV. He somehow landed a job with Henrico Public Schools.
"If a parent had done what this teacher had done, they would have been incarcerated for child neglect at a felony level," said Lucas.
The confidential documents claim the teacher smelled of alcohol in class, had slurred speech, and when confronted, "abandoned the class."
"Why would they not make sure that he wouldn't do that to any other child?" questioned Lucas.
The documents reveal the school reached a settlement with the teacher to "avoid the expense and inconvenience of litigation." The school board agreed to "not do anything to have his license non-renewed, suspended, or revoked."
"That's not acceptable to me as a parent, as a taxpayer, and as an advocate," said Lucas. "That's not acceptable."
That teacher is now one of several teachers and administrators mentioned in a $20 million lawsuit being brought by as many as 20 families. Henrico School leaders revealed the teacher abandoned his class in a letter with school letterhead.
"And this is their own documented information," said Hodges. "So when I have a child and a parent who comes to me and says this teacher verbally abused my daughter, made her sit in the classroom by herself, left her alone...what do you think based on the information you have seen?"
Hodges has amended the lawsuit to include more administrators in Chesterfield and Henrico.
"We're not going to rest until something is done," said Lucas. "Follow the law. It's that simple. Stop violating the civil rights of these children, and you will never hear from me again."
The schools now have 21 days to respond to the suit.
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