Lawsuit against Charleston Co. School, district officials alleges abusive student behavior

Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 6:17 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 4, 2021 at 7:56 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A new lawsuit filed in federal court claims the Charleston County School District and two district officials allowed a hostile work environment to be created, where staff were exposed to abusive behavior from students.

The lawsuit filed today joins at least two others that have been filed against the Charleston County School District and two officials: Dana Rodgers, the former principal of Daniel Jenkins Academy, and Jennifer Coker, the district’s Executive Director of Alternative Programs.

The 21-page suit alleges the plaintiff, Zakariya-Shaith Musallam, was harassed and intimidated by students while he was a science teacher at Daniel Jenkins from 2017 to 2019. This alternative high school deals with students with discipline problems, as well as special needs students.

According to the new lawsuit and the two previous ones, Musallam and other employees were frequently called racial and sexual slurs that were “humiliating” and “degrading.”

The suit also states that former principal Rodgers knew of the alleged verbal abuse and had a conscious indifference, and because the administration didn’t process disciplinary referrals properly, students felt “empowered” by a lack of consequences.

According to the lawsuit, Rodgers was removed as principal in 2019 for not adequately addressing student misconduct and creating an unsafe work environment, months after she allegedly wrote to her supervisor saying, “I rarely manage conflict and crisis situations in an effective and timely manner.”

The lawsuit says the work environment Musallam had to endure impacted his ability to perform his job, negatively affected his mental and physical health.

Musallam was also let go in 2019.

We reached out to Charleston County Schools for comment. A spokesman says the district has not yet been served with this new lawsuit.

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