In 2010, the assistant principal and a teacher’s aide at Sparkman Middle School in Huntsville, Alabama hatched a scheme to catch a sexually violent special needs student, 16-years-old. Their plan was to use another special needs student, a girl of 14, as “bait” to lure the first student.
The plan went horribly wrong, and that girl was raped in the school’s bathroom. The Justice Department accused the school officials of “deliberate indifference.”
None of the administrators and teachers involved in planning the botched plan were disciplined or fired, and the assistant principal, Jeanne Dunaway, who masterminded the whole thing received a promotion last week. Only the teacher’s aide, June Simpson, was placed on leave, and later resigned.
The case against the administrators, filed by the victim’s father, was thrown out by the Northern District of Alabama Court, but the Justice Department is now claiming, in a brief filed with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, that it was the wrong decision.
The Justice Department brief describes the incident:
Simpson and [the girl] … went to Vice-Principal Dunaway’s office, where Simpson told Dunaway about her plan to use [the girl] as bait to catch [the boy]. 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 school’s principal, Ronnie Blaire who unsuccessfully ran for superintendent, insisted that the sexually violent student needed to be “caught in the act,” apparently convincing the others involved that the plan was just and necessary.
Dunaway, who now works as a principal at another school in the same district, testified that the girl “was responsible for herself once she entered the bathroom.”
The 11th Circuit Court will soon determine if the case against the administrators will move forward. The school board has made no comment, other than saying that their attorneys are confident the court “will rule in favor of the board and the administrators.”