More students and school officials report retaliation in Desoto County
This comes after gay student sued high school
ARCADIA - More Desoto County High School students and administrators coming forward, accusing the district of intimidation and retaliation. The issue came to light when a gay teen filed a lawsuit against the school district. Four in your Corner's Mike Mason continues our coverage at tonight's board meeting.
The Superintendent discussed the lawsuit from Amber Hatcher but board members also brought up allegations of retaliation and that's when the meeting took a turn.
Several Desoto County school board members say the district has been plagued with claims of retaliation against students....something the Superintendent also admits.
Dr. Karyn Gary: "I have had a number of emails myself that have expressed the fear of retaliation from folks over at the high school."
One board member also blaming the Superintendent for not releasing any details surrounding Hatcher's lawsuit.
Ronny Allen: "We know absolutely nothing which is very frustrating. We have 3 top administrators from the high school being removed and we know nothing about it, it's very frustrating."
Openly gay student, Amber Hatcher recently sued her school - Desoto County High - on behalf of all students who are lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender. Last April, Hatcher says administrators refused to let her participate in the 'National Day of Silence', a silent protest in honor of students who are bullied for being different. When Hatcher went to school, she planned to speak in class only if she was called on by teachers. Instead she was called to the office.
Amber Hatcher: "I was put in in-school suspension for the duration of the day."
According to the lawsuit, the school's principal and Superintendent both refused to allow Hatcher to participate in the day of silence - her attorney says that's a violation of her civil rights. So Hatcher then filed a federal lawsuit against her school. Soon after, the district launched its own investigation and recently elected Superintendent Karyn Gary then reassigned the school's principal and 2 assistant principals.
Mike Mason: "Is somebody going to be disciplined or maybe even fired because of the investigation?”
Dr. Karyn Gary: "The investigation, there, it may be."
A graduate of Desoto High attended Tuesday's meeting and feels the district has a history of mistreating students.
Nicole Bird: "It hurts me and it makes me really sad that the students, friends of mine who haven't graduated yet, my friend's little sisters and little brothers who get bullied say they get bullied more by the administration than they do by their peers."
The Superintendent expects the investigation to be released to board members next Tuesday when they are scheduled to meet again.