Parents are suing Alcoa City Schools over their son’s suspension for sharing video over Snapchat of students’ sexual behavior in a high school classroom.

The lawsuit filed in Blount County Chancery Court last week against the Alcoa Board of Education and Director Becky Stone argues that the teen’s yearlong suspension is excessive.

The suit said the teen recorded three to five seconds and shared it with the male participant over Snapchat. The parents’ lawsuit said their son “incredibly received the same punishment as the two students engaged in the sex act during class with a teacher present.”

The Daily Times is not naming the parents to maintain the privacy of the minor child.

The school district’s attorney, John Owings, said the board would be glad to discuss the situation but “Tennessee law requires confidentiality in student matters.”

When the school board files its response to the lawsuit, he said, “It will shed more light on the circumstances.”

“The court really frowns on parties talking about their lawsuit outside of the courtroom,” Owings added.

In response to a question about the presence of a teacher, he also said, “Employee matters are somewhat confidential.”

The lawsuit said the same two students engaged in a sexual act in the same classroom days before the April 5 incident, during which the boy whose parents filed suit recorded the classmates’ “oral sex.”

The lawsuit cites the cellphone policy in Alcoa High School’s 2020-21 student handbook, which prohibits “sending, sharing, viewing, or possessing pictures, text messages, emails, or social media posts of a sexual nature in electronic or any other form on a cellphone or other electronic device while on school property, at school events or activities, or through the use of school technology.”

The handbook lists the consequence of a first offense as two days of isolated lunch and says social media posts may result in severe consequences, including suspension, expulsion and/or criminal charges.

The lawsuit notes the boy didn’t post the video on social media and argues the punishment is “arbitrary and capricious.”

The district’s Suspension/Expulsion/Remand policy allows discipline for a wide variety of reasons, including immoral or disreputable conduct, as well as “Any other conduct prejudicial to good order or discipline in any school.”

Alcoa’s Disciplinary Hearing Authority, which includes three administrators, upheld the suspension. The parents appealed, and the school board also upheld the suspension decision in May.

During the suspension, the student was assigned to the district’s alternative program. The lawsuit cites the district’s policy that those placements “shall be reserved for students who significantly disrupt the educational process.”

“There is not a material factual basis to support (the boy) being place in an alternative education setting for impulsively make a three to four second video and forwarding it to one of the participants of the sexual act,” the lawsuit states. “Apparently the classroom teacher was unaware of (him) making the video which undermines the notion that there was the required significant classroom disruption.”

It goes on to say, “Students with far more serious infractions and even criminal conduct have been disciplined significantly less or not at all.”

The lawsuit also states an assistant principal and school resource officer interviewed the boy without notifying his parents or advising him of his rights.

Education Reporter

Amy Beth earned her degree from West Virginia. She joined The Daily Times in 2016 on the education beat covering Alcoa, Maryville and Blount County school systems.

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(2) comments

Cleveristic

How does a teacher miss two students engaged in "oral sex" while another is engaged in recording it? And how does that even work lol, like logistically? "How was school, today, for you, son? What did you learn?" ..."Oh, you'd be proud, dad. I figured out how to go downtown on my girlfriend in class without being seen while my friend recorded the entire...scene! It's on TikTok and I've got so many friggin' hits, I'm going to have stock to rival Khloe Kardashian! Mogul Town, here I come, baby!"

Hm, and is the punishment too steep? Who can say really. In 1984, at William Blount, my brother chose to be the "match guy" in Operation Toilet Blow. Yes, you read that right and I spelled it correctly. These three high school seniors including my brother blew up a toilet with an M-80 in the commons area bathroom. One guy brought the firework, one guy was the lookout, and one guy - my brother - brought the lighter. And used it.

Well, the school board had zero remorse. My brother finished that year at Everett School For Wayward Bombardiers. Was that punishment too stiff?

It sounds like the authorities wanted to make an example out of all three, so, that's what they did.

crimedawg

Things sure have changed since I was in school.

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