LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Spencer County Board of Education wants a teacher's sexual harassment lawsuit dismissed because it believes allegations she brought against Superintendent Chuck Adams are not severe enough to create a hostile work environment, court records show.
Attorneys for the school board filed a motion to dismiss the teacher's lawsuit Thursday, saying interactions between the teacher and Adams as described in her lawsuit against the board were "mainly comprised of innocuous conversations and a mere handful of texts and ignored phone calls over the course of nearly three school years" and did not create a hostile work environment.
"The two alleged incidents of touching or comments like Adams' alleged statement about the plaintiff's 'contagious smile' are infrequent and cannot objectively be framed to be either severe or pervasive," Bowling Green attorneys Regina Jackson and Michael Owsley said in a memorandum supporting their motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
"The allegations made by the plaintiff cannot rise to the legal standard for 'severe or pervasive' as to create a hostile work environment," the lawyers said in the filing.
While the woman is named in court records since suing the school board April 21, WDRB News does not identify alleged victims of sexual harassment. The board placed Adams on paid administrative leave during its April 26 meeting and voted to extend his absence until at least its May 24 meeting.
The teacher, represented by Louisville attorney Thomas Clay, claimed that she received unwanted attention from Adams starting shortly after she was hired by the school district in October 2018. Adams, she said in her lawsuit, often visited her classroom and rarely discussed work issues with her.
The woman also accused Adams of sending her unsolicited phone calls and text messages, such as reaching out to her while she took personal leave and when she did not attend a school board meeting, and seeking her out at school sporting events.
In two instances included in the lawsuit, the woman says Adams grabbed her foot while walking by her on the bleachers at a basketball game and reached into a box of candy she was holding and touched her hand while at another basketball game.
The teacher claims the school board knew of the situation in April and "failed to implement prompt and appropriate corrective action and, in fact, compounded Plaintiff's damages by not taking steps to remove Superintendent Adams from her work area," according to the lawsuit.
The school board, however, argues that the teacher never suggested that her interactions with Adams veered into sexual or inappropriate territory and that she never suffered a "negative tangible employment action" during her time with Spencer County Public Schools.
"The plaintiff does not ever allege that Adams touched her in a way that was flirtatious or sexual in nature," the board's attorneys wrote in the court filing. "She does not allege that Adams tried to corner her, speak with her alone at any point, or make an attempted sexual advance toward her.
"Aside from the attempted few isolated phone calls and text messages, it does not appear from the Complaint that Adams ever tried to speak with the plaintiff without others present."
The teacher's lawsuit seeks compensatory damages, attorney's fees, injunctive relief, and either judgment against the school board or a jury trial.
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