Wyoming County Board of Education involved in two civil lawsuits

Published: May. 4, 2023 at 6:22 PM EDT
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WYOMING COUNTY, W.Va. (WVVA) - In March of 2021 the Wyoming County Board of Education was named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by a parent on behalf of a minor only addressed as P.H. in the suit. The suit filed says that P.H has autism and has been diagnosed with mental health conditions as a result of being bullied and teased by other students.

The lawsuit’s hearing began in front of a jury this week and concluded on Thursday. Scott Kaminski, the lawyer representing P.H. and the parent says the jury returned a verdict in favor of P.H. finding that the Wyoming County Board of Education was negligent for failing to investigate, report and take action on instances of bullying. Kaminski says “We are pleased with the result.”

The suit says that P.H. was a student at Westside High School in Sept. of 2019 when she was falsely accused by students, teachers and the principal of threatening other students. The suit goes on to say the incident happened when P.H. was accused of playing with a clip pretending that it was a gun during a drama club meeting after school.

The suit claims that P.H’s mother went to the school once she was notified and found P.H. being questioned by school staff and a police officer without her parents present and without legal representation. The suit says P.H. denied that she meant harm and she was misinterpreted by other students. Adding that before the incident, P.H. was not allowed to participate in theater class and had been given a broom and was told to sweep the floor during class.

The suit adds that students would refer to P.H. as “retarded” and spread false rumors that she was going to “shoot up the school.” The suit claims that P.H. was expelled after the incident but later returned to school but her individualized education program was not followed. The suit says P.H. was bullied and harassed by students and faculty when she returned.

The suit says the BOE failed to follow her IEP and acted negligently when it came to taking action against the bullying against P.H. Two counts were listed in the suit, one being negligence and the other being disability discrimination.

Less than a month ago a second unrelated lawsuit was filed against the Wyoming County Board of Education. This time the suit added a second defendant, a teacher at Baileysville Elementary and Middle School.

The suit alleges that last year, a girl referenced as Jane Doe was sexually assaulted by the teacher, Christopher Sizemore multiple times in a classroom, both while other students were present in the room and not present. The lawyer representing the girl and her mother “Kim Doe” says there is belief that others may be victims.

Adding that the board of education had removed Sizemore from other schools for the same type of behavior. The suit outlines eight counts of allegations including sexual abuse and negligence.

“If the claims are substantiated that this teacher has been doing these actions at other schools. The teaching certificate needs to be revoked and we need to make sure that this person is not in schools teaching children again in any situation,” said Attorney Travis Griffith.

Griffith says to his knowledge, no charges have been filed against Sizemore. We reached out to the Wyoming County Prosecutor’s Office but we were unable to verify if charges have or have not been filed.

We have reached out to the Wyoming County Board of Education for a statement on both of the lawsuits in this article but at this time we have not heard back. We also reached out to the attorney representing Sizemore, Jerad Horne and he said they will not be offering a statement regarding the lawsuit.

If we receive statements from either party we will bring you that information.