Henrico's Steward School hit with $475,000 lawsuit - CBS 5 - KPHO

Henrico's Steward School hit with $475,000 lawsuit

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HENRICO, VA (WWBT) -

A prestigious Henrico private school is now facing a huge legal battle. The Steward School has been hit with a $475,000 lawsuit. It was filed by a parent who is also the school's former office manager. 

The 19 page complaint alleges her daughter was bullied and verbally abused. The documents allege a fellow student repeatedly called the girl names like fat and ugly.

"Bullying is real," said Dr. Bill Bosher with the Commonwealth Educational Policy Institute. "But bullying and abuse are typically two different issues."

The former school manager claims she was wrongfully terminated for her, "refusal to participate in the commission of a criminal act: that is, misdemeanor child endangerment, abuse or neglect."

"But Being called names is not a criminal offense," said Dr. Bill Bosher. "It's a behavioral problem. It's about discipline."

The mother claims the issued extended beyond name calling. She claims in the court documents that the alleged bully met her daughter in the bathroom and repeatedly kicked the stall door so hard a nearby stall door allegedly hit her daughter in the face. The parent is now demanding 475,000 in damages.

"I also know that going to court and seeking a half million dollars doesn't bring restitution to that issue," said Dr. Bosher.

The Steward School is slamming the "unfounded legal complaint" filed by, what they call, a "disgruntled former employee" in an email correspondence to parents. School leaders also noted employees serve at will.

"If it's at will," said Dr. Bosher. "People can determine for their own reasons that they don't need you anymore. It doesn't mean that you ever give up your job as a parent because that one lasts forever." 

The parent admits the school did eventually make sure the students did not have classes together. Both sides declined on cameras interviews because of the pending litigation. 

We got the following statement from the school:

The Steward School adheres to our value system in our daily operations.  It states, "We expect our students to care for and respect one another, to accept personal responsibility, and to behave honorably."  We do not have any tolerance for actions contrary to these values and have policies and procedures in place to appropriately address any allegations of misconduct. 

The Steward School maintains similar standards of professional conduct for administration, staff and teachers. Employees serve at-will and decisions related to employee terminations are confidential. 

The Steward School does not comment publicly on threatened or pending litigation. We are confident our personnel decisions are well founded and fully defensible in court. 

Dan Frank
Interim Head of School
The Steward School

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