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Teacher sues Camdenton School District over administration’s response to janitor’s sexual misconduct allegations

Published: Aug. 27, 2020 at 4:07 PM CDT
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CAMDENTON, Mo. (KY3) - A Camdenton Middle School teacher has filed a lawsuit against the school district for its response to a now former janitor’s sexual misconduct allegations.

Jesse Devore was fired from his job as a janitor with the Camdenton School District in March 2019. He was arrested and charged on accusations that he had exposed himself to a child in the Oak Ridge Intermediate School bathroom.

Kirk Richey, a speech and communications teacher at the Camdenton Middle School claimed in a lawsuit the district knew of other instances with Devore before March 2019, but didn’t do enough about it.

”There’s no explanation, and there’s no excuse,” said Jay Kirksey, Richey’s attorney.

Richey’s lawsuit claims Camdenton’s administration was told about an incident where Devore exposed himself to a student in September 2018.

In December 2018, a parent reported a similar incident involving Devore to Richey during a basketball practice at the middle school. Richey reported it to administration.

Devore wasn’t fired. Kirksey and Richey believe he should have been.

Instead, the lawsuit alleges Devore was moved to the Oak Ridge Intermediate School, where he was again accused of exposing himself to a student in a bathroom.

”How could Dr. [Ryan] Neal and Dr. [Tim] Hadfield, if they were aware of it, continue to risk the exposure of predatory or repetitive conduct toward another student,” Kirksey asked.

Devore was arrested in March 2019 and charged with four counts of sexual misconduct with a child younger than 15.

Kirksey says the district retaliated against his client, Richey. He said Richey was written up and stripped of the opportunity for administrative duties.

Kirksey said it’s against the law, and the school board’s policy, to retaliate against his client for reporting the sexual misconduct allegations.

”That’s wrong,” Kirksey said. “His conduct should be encouraged, not retaliated against.”

Hadfield, the district superintendent, declined an interview, but sent KY3/KSPR’s Andrew Havranek a statement saying, “The Camdenton R-III School District takes allegations of workplace retaliation seriously, and is aware of Mr. Richey’s recently-filed lawsuit.  Since this involves confidential personnel information and pending litigation, I cannot comment on the specifics of the lawsuit except to say the District disputes Mr. Richey’s claims and intends to vigorously defend this lawsuit in court.”

Kirksey said the school board needs to investigate.

”There is no excuse, no justification,” Kirksey said.

After a change in venue, Devore has a hearing in Laclede County in October.

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