Lawsuit filed against security guard, principal at Breckinridge Metro HS
A former student at Breckinridge Metro High School has filed a lawsuit against the school's principal and security guard.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A former student at Breckinridge Metro High School has filed a lawsuit against the school's principal and security guard.
The suit was filed on behalf of Johnathan Murphy on Monday.
The lawsuit stems from alleged events that took place on May 13, 2015 at 11 a.m. at Riverview, a school within Breckinridge Metro High School at 1128 East Broadway. According to the lawsuit, Murphy, a who has been diagnosed with emotional-behavioral disabilities, threw a pencil at his teacher, and was punished by being sent to a "cool down room."
While on his way to the cool down room, Murphy was accosted by Kevin Watson, a school security monitor, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges that Watson told the boy that he had been waiting for him, before throwing him to the ground, "into a supine position, face-up on the floor," using a "low-swing 'Akido' maneuver."
As a result of the maneuver, the lawsuit says the boy's left shoulder was fractured. Despite this, Watson "ignored [Murphy's] pleas and report of a serious physical injury."
When the school resource officer arrived, Murphy was allegedly crying, nauseated and in obvious pain. According to the lawsuit, the boy was taken to the school office and given an ice pack. His parents were then contacted and told that he was suspended.
The lawsuit alleges that Watson committed battery against Murphy. Furthermore, the lawsuit accuses both Watson and the school's principal, Stuart Cripe, of being negligent in their care of Murphy. The lawsuit demands financial awards for Murphy's perceived damages.
WDRB News has reached out to JCPS for comment.
It is the latest chapter in an ongoing controversy at JCPS. Watson was among at least 10 current Jefferson County Public Schools employees who were suspended with pay on Sept. 14, then reassigned to non-instructional duties while the district investigated "patterns of poor professional judgment and unsafe behaviors with students."
According to a letter from Superintendent Donna Hargens to Watson on Oct. 13, Watson was reassigned to his job at Breckinridge Metro last month, but was told his conduct "failed to meet the standards of the district" and warned that should he "violate any board policy or state law and such violation is substantiated, you will be terminated."
Watson was involved in a September 2015 incident in which a student suffered a head injury after being slammed onto a table, according to a copy of an investigative report in his personnel file,obtained by WDRB in an open records request.
District investigators substantiated that Watson approached the female student from behind, grabbed her left arm and slammed her head into a table.
The report states it was also substantiated that "when the student attempted to get up, Watson pressed the student's head against the table and stated, 'How do you like that?' Multiple witnesses confirmed (student) was bleeding and that there was a puddle of blood on the floor as a result."
The student's injury, which required stitches, allegedly occurred as Watson was attempting Aikido Control Training, a method taught to some JCPS staff members as a way to safely restrain out-of-control students.
Watson received a written reprimand by the district in February for the September 2015 incident, according to his file.
"As you have already received discipline for your conduct, the district has no choice but to close this review," Hargens wrote in the Oct. 13 letter.
She added that "Jefferson County Public Schools is committed to ensuring and protecting the safety and security of our campuses, our buses, our schools and most importantly, the people in them."
"No matter what school, no matter what circumstance, nothing justifies violence or assault," she said.
Hargens wrote a nearly identical letter to Breckinridge Metro High principal Butch Cripe, reminding him that "as a principal in this district, it is your responsibility to ensure compliance and report accordingly."
"We trust that you will successfully fulfill your duties and obligations to all -- our students, our staff and our community," Hargens wrote in the Oct. 14 letter.
Watson's personnel file shows he was involved in another incident in May 2015 in which a different student's collarbone was fractured after a physical alteration with him -- also the result of an Aikido-style restraint. However, a district investigation found it was "inconclusive that (student's) injury was broken (or injured) as a result of a physical altercation" with Watson.
The report states the student's medical records show the student incurred a fractured left clavicle which "could have occurred as a result of the physical altercation/intervention demonstrated by Kevin Watson."
Because the investigation was inconclusive, Watson was not reprimanded.
In August, Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt ordered schools to immediately stop using aikido martial art as a form of restraining students.
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