For Immediate Release: Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Students slap $10 million lawsuit On Blount County school officials

Complaint alleges teacher, principal harassed female student in retaliation for last week’s suit over Confederate flag ban

KNOXVILLE, TN – A lawsuit filed today in U.S. District Court seeks $10 million in damages from Blount County education officials for harassment of a female high school student.

Both the lawsuit and a request for a temporary restraining order filed simultaneously allege that William Blount High School Principal Steve Lafon threatened the minor student and “took close up pictures of

[her] thighs,” with no other students or school employees present, in a pair of jeans her teacher, Mark Williams, claimed violated the school’s dress code. Williams has been named as a co-defendant in the suit, together with the entire Blount County School Board.

The incident occurred on March 3, only hours after Lafon had been served with a lawsuit stemming from the school’s ban on images of the Confederate flag. The female student whom Lafon allegedly forcibly photographed is the girl friend of one of the student plaintiffs in that case, and today’s suit claims that Lafon’s actions against her were in retaliation for the first suit. Williamson had sent several other students to the office for reported violations of the dress code, but only the girl friend was subjected to being photographed, the suit states.

Knoxville Attorney Van Irion filed both complaints and represents plaintiffs in both actions. The Southern Legal Resource Center of Black Mountain, North Carolina, is acting as co-counsel. The SLRC is a nonprofit legal organization that specializes in cases involving Southern heritage and culture.

The motion for temporary restraining order requests that the female plaintiff be transferred out of Williamson’s class at once, and that neither Williamson nor Lafon be allowed within fifty feet of her.

# # # # #

For additional information, contact:
Roger McCredie
The Southern Legal Resource Center
(828) 669-5189
exec@slrc-csa.org