Lawsuits to allege bullying in Dickson Middle football team - WSMV News 4

Lawsuits to allege bullying in Dickson Middle football team

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A Hendersonville attorney is preparing a pair of lawsuits against the Dickson County school system for a series of alleged bullying incidents on a middle school football team.

"This is up there in terms of the degree and pervasiveness of the bullying, not only with this set of facts but within this school district," said attorney Roland Mumford.

Last week, five families and a former volunteer asst. coach contacted Channel 4 with accusations of bullying in the Dickson Middle football team.

"It's not fair for these young kids to go through this and tolerate this," said parent Kenya Northington. "It's not fair at all. Not fair at all. It hurts my son to go through this, this racial experience."

Mumford said one lawsuit to be filed in circuit court represents former volunteer asst. coach Shane Dunning. The lawsuit claims Dunning alerted school officials of bullying and the concern was not properly addressed. The lawsuit also says much of the bullying was done by a family member on the team of Coach Scott Roberts.

Dunning said he was let go as a volunteer asst. coach for bringing up the concerns.

"The school boards across this state try to avoid reporting a high number of bullying cases for the state of Tennessee, which they're required to by law," said Mumford.

Mumford said the second lawsuit will be filed in federal court on behalf of Northington and at least four more families. The lawsuit claims team members have been using racial slurs and threatening players with rape in addition to hazing and inappropriate touching in the locker room.

In addition to the two lawsuits regarding the Dickson Middle football team, Mumford said he's representing two more families alleging bullying in Dickson County Schools. Mumford said one case already in litigation involves Oakmont Elementary while another case yet to be filed involves a student at New Directions Academy.

In 2012, a family filed a lawsuit against Dickson County Schools and Coach Roberts when they claimed their son was bullied sexually on the Dickson Middle football team. The former lawyer in charge of that case said it was eventually dismissed for procedural reasons. 

"There is a culture of deliberate indifference on the part of schools director Danny Weeks and Steve Sorrells, and it permeates through the administration," said Mumford.

Steve Sorrells of Dickson County Schools told Channel 4 last week they were contacted by two parents regarding the Dickson Middle football team allegations. He said the claims were unfounded and highly questionable. Sorrells said Dunning was let go for differences in coaching philosophy While the claims of racial slurs and rape threats were reported and investigated, Sorrells said no parents reported hazing and inappropriate touching to the school district. Northington, however, argues she did tell school officials about the hazing and inappropriate touching. Parents told Channel 4 a message was sent to them by the school system late last week saying a thorough investigation into the matter was completed, and they did not find any proof of the claims.

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