NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Two former Charleston County School District employees who had previously filed complaints with the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission have now filed federal lawsuits against the district.
Lynsey Harper and Michelle Zager both filed the suits earlier this month, which also name Liberty Hill Academy principal Christopher Haynes, who the pair worked under during their time at the school.
Zager claims that she frequently complained to Haynes about the alleged sexual and racial slurs she was subjected to by the students, but Haynes provided “no effective, adequate or prompt response.” The suit also details one alleged incident in which a Liberty Hill student threatened to kill her and Haynes’ response was that Zager should accept it as part of teaching at Liberty Hill and that student was back in class the next day.
The suit states that 1,721 disciplinary referrals made by teachers during the 2017-18 school year were not processed, and Zager claims her experience led to additional stress, illness, and anxiety. She claims she needed medical care and later applied for employment elsewhere with lesser pay and benefits.
Zager is claiming her civil rights were violated under Title VII, stating Haynes discriminated against her and interfered with her right to employment contract on the basis of race and sex by subjecting her to a racially and sexually hostile work environment. She is seeking punitive and compensatory damages.
Harper’s lawsuit also states there were 340 incidents of “major discipline” during the 2017-2018 school year when there were 100 students attending the school. and that from Nov. 9, 2017 through the end of June 2018 more than 1,000 discipline referrals went unprocessed at Liberty Hill. She claims she was jubject to similar racial and sexually derogatory remarks while employed at the school.
Her lawsuit also details at least one alleged incident in which a student asked a school resource officer to shoot her, but the student was also back in the classroom the next day.
She claims her 14th amendment rights have been violated in violation of her right to equal protection. The lawsuit states Haynes had “conscious indifference” to and tolerated the sexual and racial harassment which took place at the school. Harper says in the lawsuit she has been ill and had nightmares about what allegedly happened to her at Liberty Hill Academy.
Harper has also asked for punitive and compensatory damages.
Previously released documents show 26 incidents of staff members who were injured on school grounds. In a recent investigation, Live 5 News uncovered more than 4,000 student disciplinary incidents were filed at the school in 2017, yet nearly half were never processed.