A Texas school district will pay $77K to settle a lawsuit brought by a student whose coaches outed her to her mother.
According to the lawsuit, on March 2, 2009, an unscheduled, off-campus softball practice was called. When Skye Wyatt, then 16, arrived at the field, then-Kilgore ISD softball coaches Rhonda Fletcher and Cassandra Newell dismissed the rest of the team. The coaches called Wyatt into an empty locker room, locked the door and accused her of having a sexual relationship with another girl and of being a lesbian, according to the lawsuit. At the time of the confrontation, Wyatt and the other girl were dating, the lawsuit states. Wyatt denied the accusations, and the coaches threatened to sue her for slander, told her she could not play in the softball game and said they were going to tell her mother she was involved with another girl, according to the lawsuit. The coaches called Barbara Wyatt and asked her to meet them at the field, which she did 40 minutes later, and was told her daughter was homosexual, according to the lawsuit.
In addition to the settlement, the school district has agreed to train all employees about the privacy rights of students. However the district did release this statement:
“The Kilgore ISD board believes that the actions of its employees were in all things lawful. The Kilgore ISD board believes that the pre-existing policies of the district were much more than adequate, and the board policies in existence at the time will continue to remain in full force and effect. No policies are going to be withdrawn, changed or modified. No new policies are going to be adopted. The plaintiff’s counsel in this case attempted to bully the board into changing its policies by threatening long, expensive and protracted litigation. The Kilgore ISD Board refused,” the statement said. “The Kilgore ISD Board of Trustees has no power to oppose the payment of settlement funds in this case, that matter being solely within the discretion of the insurance carrier. It is a business decision of the insurance company, and the settlement is much less expensive than what the insurance carrier would spend in this case in attorney fees and costs through trial, appeal by the plaintiff to the Fifth Circuit and appeal by the Plaintiff to the United States Supreme Court,” the district said.
No policy changes, except that one about student privacy. (Tipped by JMG reader Bill)