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Independence teacher sues school district for sexual harassment

Cassell Park Elementary
Posted at 10:41 AM, May 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-17 11:41:09-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — A teacher working for the Independence School District filed a lawsuit Monday alleging that she experienced sexual harassment as well as retaliation for her complaints about the conduct.

According to court documents, the claims relate to a female teacher who has worked at Cassell Park Elementary School since July 2019. Her claims center around treatment by a male colleague, Richard Neal Johnson.

The suit states that Johnson made derogatory comments about women and frequently commented on the physical appearance of female staff.

In one specific instance mentioned in the suit, Johnson allegedly told a female teacher "she has a 'beautiful heart, a beautiful mind, and a beautiful body.'”

He also allegedly "has continuously stated that women are hard to live/be with and that men should maintain control over their women."

The lawsuit also alleges that the district knew about the discriminatory behavior and did nothing to stop it.

"In February 2021, a school-wide investigation commenced, and allegations were brought forth by nine teachers against (Johnson). Many faculty and staff were interviewed by Greg Gilliam, the school’s Title IX Coordinator," court documents say. "Everyone who had brought allegations against (Johnson) received a letter from Greg Gilliam saying all the allegations were found to be somehow 'unsubstantiated.”'

The lawsuit then states that Johnson retaliated against the teachers who brought allegations against him.

"If a teacher had an issue/problem with a student, (Johnson) continuously withheld assistance," the lawsuit states.

Johnson was then promoted from his position at the school to an administrative position at Truman High School, the suit states.

The lawsuit brings six total counts against the district and Johnson that relate to emotional distress, retaliation, a hostile work environment and sex/gender based discrimination.

The Independence School District responded to KSHB 41's request for comment Tuesday morning.

"The Independence School District feels these lawsuits have no merit, and we intend to vigorously defend against the allegations," a district spokesperson said.