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Pastor accuses Metro Schools of unlawful retaliation for reporting harassment

Posted: 10:51 AM, Apr 03, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-03 11:51:36-04
Howard Jones MNPS.jpg

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A new lawsuit accuses Metro Nashville Public Schools of unlawful retaliation against a veteran assistant principal who reported egregious sexual harassment by his boss.

The latest lawsuit, the seventh involving a scandal first uncovered by NewsChannel 5 Investigates, was filed on behalf of Howard Jones, who was assistant principal at John F. Kennedy Middle School under executive principal Sam Braden. Jones is also pastor of a local church.

"Pastor Jones has suffered great embarrassment and distress," the lawsuit says. "He behaved honorably and was humiliated and forced from his job. He has sought medical treatment for stress-induced problems."

The lawsuit, filed by Nashville attorney Gary Blackburn, asks for $300,000 in damages.

In an exclusive interview, Jones told NewsChannel 5 Investigates that he had personally warned Metro Schools Director Dr. Shawn Joseph that Braden was trouble.

But nothing was done, the assistant principal said.

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What did Dr. Shawn Joseph know, and when did he know it?

As NewsChannel 5 previously reported, an employee at John F. Kennedy Middle School went to Jones in December 2017 with allegations that Braden was trying to coerce him into performing sex acts.

Jones immediately reported those allegations to MNPS Human Resources.

"Braden was given a copy of Plaintiff's statement to HR regarding his behavior," the lawsuit says. "He told others that he was going to 'get rid of Howard Jones.'"

The assistant principal later received a letter stating that he was being terminated.

Metro Schools' number two HR official, Sharon Pertiller, and Jones' supervisor, Dr. Barbara Maultsby Springer, responded that JFK Middle was Braden's building "and he could fire whom he pleased," the lawsuit says.

Jones filed a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

"His termination was rescinded without explanation," the lawsuit adds. "He was assigned to different locations, finally Stratford High School, rather than return to JFK Middle," according to the complaint.

MNPS has already paid out $350,000 to settle claims by three of Braden's victims.

An assistant principal from another school, who claims he suffered several nervous breakdowns as a result of Braden's harassment, filed a $400,000 lawsuit last week against the district.

Former HR manager Scott Lindsey has sued MNPS, claiming he was forced out for insisting that sexual harassment complaints be properly investigated.

In addition, former MNPS administrator Vanessa Garcia has filed a $1.2 million lawsuit that includes allegations that Joseph himself personally ignored warnings that one of his friends, Mo Carrasco, was engaged in sexual harassment.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates has reached out to MNPS for comment on the latest lawsuit.

NC5 Investigates: Metro Schools