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Parents file lawsuit saying school did not protect daughter

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Posted at 9:18 PM, Apr 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-13 22:44:04-04

WOODBURY, Tenn. (WTVF) — The parents of a Cannon County student filed a federal lawsuit against the county Board of Education, claiming the school did not do enough to protect their daughter and other students for Title IX violations in regards to a sexual harassment complaint of a school custodian.

Christopher L. Wilkes was terminated from his job as a custodian at Woodbury Grammar School May 9 of 2019 violating the District Technology Policy, improper conduct, and insubordination.

The parents filed the suit Friday saying school officials allowed a "hostile environment to female students" and "failed to failed to promptly and appropriately respond to a complaint regarding Wilkes.

The lawsuit recounts an instance in which their daughter, who was in sixth grade in April of 2019, walked into a restroom at Woodbury Grammar School and saw Wilkes in the open area of the restroom and his cleaning cart in the back stall. According to the lawsuit, Wilkes told her to use the back stall, where his cart was located, as it had already been cleaned.

The student reported seeing a cell phone on top of the cart that was recording, "and had been for approximately 20 minutes and 50 seconds."

The lawsuit states the student told school authorities but was told to return to class, and that Wilkes continued to work throughout the day when the recording accusation had been reported. It also states that the then school principal did not inform parents of an ongoing investigation of Wilkes for attempting to record a 12-year-old female child while she partially disrobed and used the restroom.

The lawsuit claims the student is now "a depressed an unhappy seventh grader who has been forced to stay at the school where she was criminally recorded in a private act and then retaliated against."

The plaintiffs are asking for $2 million in damages among other relief.